Top adveture activities and recreation in Kauai for your bucket list adventure

Kauai is the island in Hawaii that inspires us to be outdoors, explore and have a real adventure on the island. There’s so much to see and do on the island for recreation and adventure seekers or anyone that just loves to explore the islands. Whether you are looking for a once in a lifetime hiking experience, snorkel amazing tropical marine life or cruising the lush landscape in an open-door helicopter, you’ll want to do all of these fun things to do in Kauai and more below.

Best time to visit Kauai

Best time to visit Kauai

Kauai is a year-round destination and the most popular times to typically visit the island is during the summer season and winter season when mainland visitors have time off from school and work to enjoy the islands. The best times to actually come here is during the shoulder season before summer and right after summer when the weather is more pleasant and dry throughout the island.

How to get around Kauai

Kauai is a relatively small island but still spread out, if you intend on just staying around the resort and taxi/uber short distances then that is workable. But if you are looking to explore outdoors and do some fun recreation, then renting a car is crucial for you to get around and visit many of these attractions and activities to do. You can find some good deals using this rental car search site here for the islands to get the best deals on your timeframe visiting. Or if you do some of these adventure experiences, some of these outfitters do also arrange for pick up from your hotel or condo

Top things to do and see around Kauai now for adventure and recreation fun

Top things to do and see around Kauai now for adventure and recreation fun

Things to do on the North Shore region of Kauai

TUnnels beach

1. Snorkel Tunnels in the North Shore

One of the most popular beach and snorkel areas on the island, Tunnels beach on the North Shore is amazing. Also known as Makuna Beach, Tunnels has golden sand beaches and fantastic coral and tropical fish to explore. Green sea turtles or honu along with other marine life love to frequent the area so you might get to see some wonderful marine life in the area. If you are visiting the North Shore of Kauai, this is the beach to go for amazing snorkeling in the area.

To get to Tunnels beach you drive down Highway 580 until you hit mile marker 8 and access is further down at .4 miles and .6 miles past the mile marker.

Hike the Kalalau trail

2. Hike the Kalalau trail

One of the most iconic and beautiful areas of the island to explore is the Kalalau trail in the Na Pali coastline. This is one of the most spectacular areas with vistas to explore and reservations are required to access the area so there is crowd control and measurements in place to manage this extremely sensitive and fragile area and trails. You can check out this website here to make a reservation for touring the area and Kalalau trail, there is a strict limit of only 60 people allowed on the trail at any time.

Reservations are 90 days out and priced at $35 per person per day. Camping is also allowed with limited availability. Check out the camping requirements and reservations here for more details.

Take a snorkel cruise around the Na Pali coastline

3. Take a snorkel cruise around the Na Pali coastline

One of the most stunning coastlines in all of the Hawaiian chain, the Napali coast is dramatic with its huge and sheer cliffs that drop into the ocean averaging 3000 feet. The best way to enjoy the Na Pali cliffs and coastline is through a snorkeling/sailing experience in the region that showcases the natural beauty of the coast along with a fun adventure experience. A nice buffet lunch and snorkel experience is included along this spectacular sailing cruise to the Na Pali coastline.

You can check for price and availability on this fantastic cruise and snorkel outfitter here for more details and current prices.

4. Mountain Tubing Experience

Riding down inner tubes through scenic plantation areas of the islands through the old irrigation systems of the Lihue Plantation covers remote area is a fun experience. This popular tour takes you through the ancient irrigation systems past tunnels and flumes, adding to the cool and adventure part of this journey. The tubing experience is open to all age groups and family friendly in the only tubing experience available on Kauai Island.

You can check for price and availability on this Mountain Tubing experience here for more details and calendar.

 Helicopter ride along the Napali coast, canyons or waterfalls tours

5. Helicopter ride along the Napali coast, canyons or waterfalls tours

Do an amazing Helicopter ride along the stunning Napali coastline, waterfalls and lush mountains of Waimea Canyon. One of the once in a lifetime experience to do in Kauai is a helicopter ride through the Napali coastline. Their 5-star helicopter ride experience from Lihue airport to the Coastlines of the Napali coast, hidden beaches and waterfalls flowing into the oceans and then a spectacular ride to the Grand Canyon of the Pacific at Waimea Canyon is truly the highlight of this amazing ride experience from above and with one of the most trusted outfitters on the island. There are a variety of Helicoper exceptional programs you can participate in depending on tour / price combinations.

You can check for price and availability on a variety of Helicopter experiences here for more details and a breakdown of the various flights and places to visit.

Hike to a light house on the northeastern tip of Kauai

6. Hike to a light house on the northeastern tip of Kauai

Located in the North eastern point of Kauai and in a natural wildlife preserve, the Kilauea lighthouse was in operation since 1912 where it was used to aid ships traveling through the area. Now the lighthouse is a tourist attraction along with the wildlife preserve that hosts many of the endemic native birds from Hawaii.

Do a snorkel a cruise to the Forbidden Isle at Ni’ihau

7. Do a snorkel a cruise to the Forbidden Isle at Ni’ihau

This fun snorkel experience to Ni’ihau to the northwest of Kauai is fun and a great way to explore the waters off Ni’ihau which only allows native Hawaiians to live on this island. The snorkel cruise experience starts with a cruise along the Napali coastline and crosses the channel into Ni’ihau where you get to snorkel around the stunning Lehua Crater which has one of the best snorkeling areas of the entire island chain. This seven-hour tour includes equipment, instruction and both breakfast and lunch service on this all-day tour of both islands.

You can check for price and availability on snorkel and cruise experience to Ni’ihau here for more details.

HIke to the Queen's bath in the North Shore

8. HIke to the Queen’s bath in the North Shore

Even though the Queen’s bath gets a lot of slack to visiting and swimming the waters here, timing is everything with summer visits relatively calm and winter visits extremely hazardous, wet and dangerous conditions. Check out some highlights to visiting here for hiking to the Queen’s bath on the North Shore area.

. Hanalei Bay Kayak and Snorkel Tour

9. Hanalei Bay Kayak and Snorkel Tour

This fun half day kayak tour in Hanalei starts off at the Hanalei river where you kayak all the way to the bay area and spend the rest of the time on a snorkel experience around the bay. This fun combo tour also includes snacks and lunch along with use of kayaks, dry bags and snorkel equipment.

Check out the complete tour details here for more information and current prices to booking this tour experience.

Explore the eastern side of Kauai

The middle eastern or windward side of Kauai contains the main city of Lihue, Kapaa and the river banks area of Wailua. You’ll find lots of nature to explore, waterfalls to hike or kayak to and the grand Wailua river to enjoy via kayaking experience.

Wailua river

10. Kayaking the Wailua River area to secret falls

One of the most relaxing and easy rivers to explore in Kauai, the Wailua River is the largest river on the island. You cruise inland up the Wailua towards secret falls better known in Hawaiian as Uluwehi Falls. The hike is about 45 minutes to the waterfall from the kayak landing and you follow your guide who will share some of the native plants, birds and other cultural and historic details to visiting this lush and fertile area of Kauai.

You can check for price and availability on kayak and hike to a waterfall experience through this outfitter here for more details.

Check out the stunning waterfalls in the Eastern side of Kauai

11. Check out the stunning waterfalls in the Eastern side of Kauai

There are some gorgeous waterfalls on the east side of the island that you can visit, the most popular being Wailua Falls a short drive from Lihue area. Other popular waterfalls to visit and capture in photographs include: Wailua Complex of Heiau and ‘Opaeka‘a Falls at Wailua River State park, hike to Uluwehi Falls off the Wailua River,

You can go on a guided ATV adventure tour and waterfall visit here for more details and current prices. Combining an ATV adventure, waterfall and beach visit, you’ll really enjoy this outdoor activity when you visit the island.

ATV adventure, waterfall and beach visit,

Easy cruise down the Wailua River to Fern Grotto

12. Easy cruise down the Wailua River to Fern Grotto

For a more relaxed water based tour on the Wailua River, you will enjoy this easy cruise down to the famous fern grotto and also enjoy some local live music and dance on this fun journey. You’ll travel part way through the 20 mile river with gorgeous views on each side flowing directly from Mount Waialeale in the center of the island passing through historic heaiu, waterfalls and lush forested areas along the shoreline.

Check out this guided tour here for a look at the tour highlights, costs and timeframes for each cruise visit.

Explore the Southern side of Kauai for adventure fun

Explore the Southern side of Kauai for adventure fun

The sunny south side of Kauai is where you’ll get more sunshine on this side with gorgeous beaches, surfing and water sports activities to keep you busy and enjoying the outdoors on the south side of the island.

Learn to surf in Kauai

13. Learn to surf in Kauai

Located in Koloa, you can hone in your surfing skills with this small group learning experience to get the basics with a professional surfing instructor. The group learning is with 5 people or less for specialized instructions and also includes your board, rash guard and water shoes to protect your feet. Lesson equipment and instruction is included on this 1 ½ surfing experience.

You can check for price and availability on this surfing lesson experience through this outfitter here for more details.

Koloa zipline experience

14. Koloa zipline experience

Enjoy Kauai’s native forests and lush landscape from above on this zipline experience in Koloa located on the south shore. With over eight zipline tracks to experience along with one of the longest zipline rides in all of Hawaii, the thrill of the ride zipping from above is a fun way to enjoy the landscape and speed at the same time. You cruise over the Waita reservoir, lush canyons and landscape and can even ride upside down as part of this adventure experience not to be missed.

You can check for price and availability zipline ride experience through these various outfitters here for experiencing zipline in Kauai with current tours more details.

Hit the beach in Poipu

15. Hit the beach in Poipu

The southern part of the island is where the sunnier beach activity centers and spending a fun beach day here is key. Explore the popular beach areas here like Poipu beach park, Baby Beach and Shipwreck beach all in the same area with flat and easy wave action. If you are looking to hike a little bit, check out the dramatic cliffs at the Makawehi Lithfield Cliffs for nice views on this hike to the beach area. You can enjoy a variety of water sports in the area to include surfing, boogey boarding, snorkeling or just swimming in the different beach areas of Poipu.

Check out this post on the most popular beaches to explore in Kauai here for inspiration and visiting these fun beaches now.

 Explore the Na Pali coast on a sunset tour

16. Explore the Na Pali coast on a sunset tour

The Na Pali coast on sunset is spectacular. Leaving from Port Allen on the south side, you cruise up north along the spectacular Na Pali coastline, a scenic 15 mile stretch of natural cliffs and beautiful scenery. A fantastic buffet dinner is served during the cruise and you get a wonderful sunset experience along this gorgeous coastline with views of the amazing Na Pali coast.

Check out the details to this sunset cruise on the Na Pali Coast here for more details and current prices.

Things to do on the west side of Kauai

15. Explore Koke'e State Park in Waimea Canyon

17. Explore Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

One of the natural wonderlands on the island, Koke’e State Park, is the most grandiose canon dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. This stunning state park is worth exploring in more detail for adventure seekers looking to enjoy the amazing vistas, hike inspiring trails and challenge yourself to adventure experiences in the park.

If you are looking to doing some fantastic hikes in the state park and challenge yourself to visiting some of the most scenic spots around this area, check out the All Trails Koke’e State park link here for updated hikes and conditions around the park area.

Waimea canyon

18. Guided Tour of Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

Tour with an expert guide and hike through scenic parts of the canyon, a waterfall swim and a fantastic guided tour of the canyon and even a stop at a delicious local Shave Ice stand. Having a guided tour with cultural and historic background to how this park developed and insight to Hawaiian cultural practises and beliefs adds to the actual experience when you come here with an experienced guide that will share some stories about the area.

Check out this full day parks tour of Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park here for more details and current price of reserving the tour.

Guided Tour of Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park

Where to stay in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

The entire island is relatively small so you can easily base yourself in three main areas to get around. This would be Lihue area closer to the main city, Poipu in the southern part of the island and the Northshore with Hanalei and Princeville area.

Check out these fantastic Lihue accommodations with the top reviewed sites here

Check out these fantastic Poipu accommodations with the top reviewed sites here

Check out these fantastic Princeville accommodations with the top reviewed sites here

Check out these fantastic Hanalei accommodations with the top reviewed sites here

If you are looking for the top places with the best ratings are on Kauai, check out these accommodations here for inspiration, availability and current prices.

Related topics on Kauai travel

Related topics on Kauai travel

Top things to do in Lihue

A visit to iconic Wailua Falls

Explore the beaches of Kauai

Best hikes of Kauai

Explore Hanalei town

Conclusion on amazing adventure experiences in Kauai

Conclusion on amazing adventure experiences in Kauai

You can’t go wrong exploring around Kauai and trying out any of these fantastic adventure experiences around the island and really see the best of the island.

Book mark this post when you want to plan and do any or all of these fantastic recreation and outdoor experiences around the island and you’ll love visiting Kauai!

Disclosure – some of the links above are to affiliate sites that are either reviews or recommendations if you book helps to keep our site running. We appreciate your supporting our website meanwhile

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  1. Maria Veloso

    When I think of Hawaii, what conjures in my mind is paradise. It’s probably because of the biodiversity of the country. I always hear of the Maui island, but Kauai seems to offer a wonderful side of the country, too. Among the list of activities you shared, I’m drawn to hiking, hitting the beach, and waiting for the sunset.

    • emorata

      THere’s so many fantastic outdoor and adventure activities here to do in Kauai

  2. Umiko

    No wonder my friend kept telling me about Kauai even though she hasn’t done or visited 80% of these amazing activities or places. The views from Kalalau Trail is so beautiful. I would like to do that when I go to Kauai. The coastline looks amazing and I would like to zip across the Kauai’s forests.

    • emorata

      Yes there’s so much to see and adventure experiences on Kauai

  3. Clarice

    Wow! Did not realize that there is so much to see and do in Kauai. Love the idea of taking a snorkel cruise. Happy to know that it comes with a nice buffet. Bookmarking this post for future reference.

    • emorata

      Kauai is adventure filled and so many outdoor experiences to have around the island.

  4. Carol Colborn

    Loved Kauai: Poipu, Hanalei, Waimea. But it was the helicopter tide that mesmerized us. The Napali Coast is spectacula@

    • emorata

      Yes the helicopter rides are really worth the splurge in Kauai

  5. Sherianne

    I live on the west coast and wish I was able to spend more time in Hawaii, Kauai’s Na Pali coastline is gorgeous. I have done the helicopter tour and it was amazing. I would love to return and tube through the old irrigation systems and ATV to waterfalls

    • emorata

      Those are great options, it is fun to always return to Kauai to do more of these adventure tours

  6. Linda (LD Holland)

    We really did not have Kauai on our plans for a visit to Hawaii. But I now know this has the kind of outdoor adventures we would love. We would definitely head out in the beautiful waters for snorkelling or scuba diving. And tubing at the Lihue Plantation sounds like so much fun. But a helicopter ride would be the perfect way to get an amazing view of the island. It looks like we would need more than one visit to see all the different sides of this island. I can definitely see that we can’t go wrong with a visit to Kauai.

    • emorata

      There really is no shortage of adventure and recreation experiences you can do in Kauai, it is an amazing destination.

  7. Clare

    I loved Kauai when I visited, I did lots of hiking and did a boat trip along the Na Pali coastline. There is so much more though that I didn’t do. I never kayaked or surfed there and I would love to go back and do the Kalalau trail. Hopefully I will get to go back one day and do some of these things that I missed.

    • emorata

      There’s so many Kauai adventures to do it really is an adventure lovers paradise

  8. Indrani

    I like holidaying in such small islands where it is easy to explore. I would prefer to drive around there. Snorkel tunnels sound exciting, the helicopter ride too. There is no dearth of activity it seems. I would like to get to Kauai at the first opportunity I get.

    • emorata

      Yes there’s definitely a lot of places and adventure activities here in Kauai

  9. Joanna

    It looks like there are so amazing adventure things to do in Kauai. I love snorkelling so I am happy to read that there are so many different spots to go and observe the underwater world. A helicopter tour over the Nepali coast would be incredible as well.

    • emorata

      Yes snorkeling is popular and the helicopter tour around Kauai is totally amazing to experience



  1. The Napali coast - This Hawaii Life - […] are a lot of wonderful outdoor tours and adventure experiences that you can enjoy visiting the Napali coast and…

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.