Discover the Charms of Lihue, Kauai: A Captivating Paradise Awaits

(updated 2023)

Lihue, the regional capital in Kauai always seems to be just a launching point from the island either from the airport or the harbor are for cruises coming into port. Being the government and commercial center of the island and is where most of the locals working directly in the city, most visitors think that there’s just a few things to do around Lihue.

But you’ll be surprised to learn that there are so many cool and fun things to do in Lihue, Hawaii and the surrounding area outside of the city. 

Even though the natural beauty and lush nature of the island is lacking from the city center, there is still beach areas, outdoor activities and recreation available in town and the surrounding area.

You can enjoy the outdoors and good life around Lihue and here are some of the best things to do in Lihue and areas close to town.

Why visit Lihue, Kauai?

Lihue, Kauai is the regional capital city of the island and is a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Nestled on the lush island of Kauai, it serves as a gateway to stunning attractions like Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. The allure of Lihue lies in its accessibility and central location, making it an ideal starting point for exploring the Garden Isle’s wonders.

Kauai’s temperate climate and breathtaking landscapes are on full display in Lihue. Whether you seek adventure through hiking, kayaking, or exploring pristine beaches, or prefer to soak in the serene beauty of botanical gardens and waterfalls, Lihue offers it all within easy reach.

Additionally, Lihue boasts cultural gems like the Kauai Museum and historic sites that shed light on the island’s rich heritage. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor local cuisine and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the island’s residents.

The city is low key and feels like it hasn’t change in so many decades and preserves that authentic and small town feel on the island.

Top 10 best things to do in Kauai

Things to do in Lihue
You’ll be surprised with all the cool things to do in Lihue, Hawaii

Where is Lihue, Kauai located?

Located in the southeast region of Kauai, Lihue is only a six minute drive from the main airport down Ahukini Road to the downtown area.

From Princeville area, Lihue is about 29.2 miles, the next large population center at Poipu to Lihue is about 13 miles to downtown.

Where is Lihue located?
Visit Lihue and scene from above

Lihue’s history

The island was mostly a plantation town to the sugar cane industry which ruled the commerce of Kauai with the formation of the Lihue Sugar Plantation in 1849.

The sugar industry continued but with intense competition started a slow decline in business. Many of the abandoned sugar mills have been converted into living museums for visitors to explore and see Kauai’s historic past.

Weather and best time to visit Lihue

The weather in Lihue, Kauai is warm and tropical throughout the year, making it an inviting destination for visitors. The best time to visit Lihue is during the months of April to September when the weather is generally sunny and dry. During this period, temperatures range from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 24-29 degrees Celsius), creating pleasant conditions for outdoor activities and exploration.

While Lihue experiences consistent rainfall throughout the year, the rainy season typically occurs from November to March. During these months, showers may be more frequent, but they are often brief and followed by sunny skies. The lush greenery and blooming flowers after a rain shower add to the beauty of the landscape.

It’s important to note that even during the rainy season, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy Lihue and its surroundings. The rainforests and waterfalls thrive during this time, creating picturesque scenes that are worth experiencing. Additionally, visiting during the shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October can offer a good balance of favorable weather and fewer crowds.

Ultimately, Lihue’s tropical climate makes it a pleasant destination year-round, but the months of April to September provide the best weather for outdoor activities and beach adventures. Remember to check the local weather forecast and be prepared for occasional rain showers regardless of the time of year you visit.

Best things to see in Lihue

10 Best things to see in Lihue, Kauai

There’s so much history, culture and fun things to do at Lihue and the surrounding areas to keep you busy. But if you are looking for more relax, find some easy hiking trails, some nice beaches and the best luau’s in Kauai or some places to eat, we have you covered below.

Visit the Kauai Museum

1. Visit the Kauai Museum

When you visit Lihue’s historic downtown district, check out the Kauai Museum. Located in town on Rice street, the Kauai Museum explores the islands indigenous past, Captain Cook’s visit to the island, missionary culture and assimilation into modern day Kauai.

The museum also offers revolving shows and featuring local artists from the island and also Niihau at their galleries and special shows.

Here’s a visit to the Kauai Museum below

Koloa Rum Company tasting room

2. Koloa Rum Company

One of the cool places to visit in Lihue is the Koloa Rum Company has a fantastic tasting room in the company store. Less than an eight minute drive south from Lihue on Hwy 56 to Hwy 50 and follow directions to the distillery.

There are tastings done every 30 minutes to enjoy rum spirits made from Hawaiian sugar cane distilled from large copper pots to impart a smooth flavor of rum.

Here’s a quick look at the Koloa Rum tasting rooms below

Relax at Kalapaki Beach

3. Kalapaki Beach

Located about a 10 minute drive south from Lihue on Hwy 56 and left turn on Rice street, Kalapaki Beach is a popular local beach which is good for swimming, body surfing, SUP, surfing and walking along the nice expansive beach.

Family friendly with relatively calm seas. Located at Kalapaki is the Marriott Resort and Beach Club along with a golf course in the area.

visit the Akeko Fish pond

4. Akeko Fish pond

A 1,000 year old aquaculture fish pond created and on the national register of historic places. Akeko Fish Pond was built as an aquaculture fish pond from the indigenous early Hawaiian people the fishpond has a mythical element that menehune (small ancient people) by legend hide from humans and created this pond in just one night.

The fishpond can be seen from above at an overlook spot on Hulemalu Road.

Here’s a quick look at the fish ponds below

Visit Kilohana Plantation

5. Visit Kilohana Plantation

A historic plantation home built in the 1930’s in the tudor style, Kilohana Plantation now host’s the island’s iconic Luau called Kalamaku, a tour of the home and a small plantation village you can visit and even tour on a small plantation railway train around the grounds and working farm.

Here’s a history tour of the Kilohana Plantation below

6. Grove Farm Homestead

An old sugar cane plantation that gives a nice insight to Kauai’s plantation past with a 100 acre estate where you can tour the property including the old Wilcox home, the Grove Farm Plantation housekeepers home, tropical gardens, orchards and other places of interest around the plantation.

Here’s a visit to the historic Grove Farm plantation museum

Visit Wailua Falls

7. Visit Wailua Falls

One of the iconic things to do in Lihue is to visit Wailua Falls. The double tiered falls drops down 80 feet from the top to pool area. Easy to access by visitors, Wailua Falls is about a 13 minutes drive north of Lihue on Hwy 583. You can easily see Wailua Falls from the road and if you visit in the morning, you might see some rainbows around the mist over the falls area.

Where to eat at Lihue

8. Local food to eat at Lihue

The Fish Express – 3-3343 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue

Local food, sandwiches, fusion style dishes and seafood lunches

Marks Place – 1610 Haleukana St Ste A Puhi, Lihue

Local style Hawaiian and Polynesian fare and plate lunches to go

Konohiki – 3-4301 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue

Local style, poke bowls, Pupus and Hawaiian desserts

Kauai Beer Company – 4265 Rice St, Lihue

A fantastic brew pub that serves American bistro style, appetizers and yummy sandwiches

Smiley’s Local Grindz – 4100 Rice St., Lihue

Seafood, Hawaiian style foods, loco moco and other popular local comfort food

Here’s a video of some local favorite spots to eat in Lihue below

Where to stay in Lihue

9. Places to stay in Lihue

There’s a full range of condominium rentals, hotels to resorts around Lihue and nearby locations, check out these top rated places below.

The Kauai Inn – A popular inn that is family friendly with fantastic customer service and Hawaiian hospitality. Great value, good location, clean and generous continental breakfast

Marriott Kauai Beach club – Beach front property in a fantastic area with ocean and mountain view rooms in a bubble resort with friendly service.

Kauai Shores Hotel – A value rated hotel that is beach front with clean modern rooms, free bikes and morning yoga, pool and other beautiful public grounds and gardens.

Check out these other top rated hotel reviews on TripAdvisor here for more details, availability and current prices.

10. Attend a local festival in Kauai

Kauai, also known as the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii, hosts various local festivals throughout the year, celebrating its rich cultural heritage, traditions, and natural beauty. Here are some of the local festivals you might find on Kauai:

Kauai Mokihana Festival: This annual festival celebrates Hawaiian culture, arts, and music. It typically takes place in September and features hula performances, music competitions, workshops, and craft fairs. The festival honors the mokihana, a green berry found only on Kauai and a symbol of the island’s unique identity.

Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival: Held in October, this festival showcases the island’s flourishing coffee and cacao industry. Visitors can taste a wide range of locally grown coffees and chocolates, participate in workshops, and learn about the coffee and chocolate-making process.

Prince Kuhio Celebration: In March, Kauai pays tribute to Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, a beloved Hawaiian leader and statesman. The celebration includes parades, music, hula performances, and various cultural activities, highlighting the island’s deep connection to its royal heritage.

Koloa Plantation Days: Celebrated in July, this festival commemorates Kauai’s sugar plantation era. The week-long event features historical tours, craft fairs, traditional Hawaiian games, live music, and delicious local food.

Eo E Emalani i Alakai Festival: This festival takes place in October and honors Queen Emma, the wife of King Kamehameha IV. The event includes a reenactment of Queen Emma’s journey to Alakai Swamp and features hula performances, chants, and ceremonies.

Kauai Polynesian Festival: This festival brings together the diverse Polynesian cultures, including Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, and Samoan. It features cultural performances, traditional arts and crafts, and interactive activities for all ages.

Waimea Town Celebration: Held in February, this festival is one of the oldest and largest on Kauai. It celebrates the heritage of Waimea town and includes a rodeo, cultural demonstrations, a floral parade, food booths, and entertainment.

Please note that the dates and details of these festivals may vary from year to year, and new events may have emerged since my last update. If you plan to attend any of these festivals, it’s a good idea to check for the latest information and schedules closer to your travel date. The festivals offer a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in Kauai’s vibrant culture, traditions, and community spirit.

More inside to visiting around Lihue

Explore Wailua Falls: Just a short drive from Lihue, Wailua Falls is a must-visit attraction. Marvel at the majestic 80-foot waterfall as it cascades into a picturesque pool below. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of this iconic Kauai landmark.

Visit Kalapaki Beach: Located in Lihue, Kalapaki Beach offers a beautiful crescent-shaped bay with golden sands and clear turquoise waters. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, or even trying your hand at water sports like paddleboarding or kayaking. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a stunning sunset from this scenic beach.

Discover Kilohana Plantation: Immerse yourself in the island’s history and culture at Kilohana Plantation. Take a train ride through the plantation grounds, explore the historic mansion, and indulge in a delicious meal at one of the on-site restaurants. The plantation also hosts various events and activities, such as craft fairs and live entertainment.

Try Local Cuisine: Lihue offers a diverse range of dining options where you can savor the flavors of Hawaiian cuisine. Sample local specialties like poke bowls, plate lunches, and fresh seafood. Don’t forget to try the famous shave ice for a refreshing treat on a hot day.

Visit the Kauai Museum: Learn about the rich heritage and history of Kauai at the Kauai Museum in Lihue. Discover exhibits that showcase the island’s cultural artifacts, artwork, and historical artifacts. It’s a great place to gain a deeper understanding of Kauai’s traditions and the people who have shaped its identity.

Explore the Grove Farm Homestead: Take a guided tour of the Grove Farm Homestead, a historic sugar plantation that provides a glimpse into Kauai’s past. Learn about the plantation era, visit the plantation owner’s house, and stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens. The tour offers fascinating insights into the island’s agricultural heritage.

Shop at Kukui Grove Center: If you’re in the mood for some shopping, head to Kukui Grove Center. This open-air shopping mall features a variety of stores, boutiques, and local vendors. Browse for souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, and unique gifts to bring back home.

Take a Hike in Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant) Trail: Lace up your hiking boots and tackle the Sleeping Giant trail. This moderate hiking trail offers panoramic views of Lihue, the coast, and the surrounding lush landscape. It’s a rewarding hike that provides a great workout and stunning vistas.

Relax at Lydgate Beach Park: For a family-friendly day at the beach, visit Lydgate Beach Park. This park offers protected swimming areas, picnic facilities, and even a playground for children. It’s an ideal spot to relax, swim, snorkel, or enjoy a beachside picnic.

Attend the Kauai Mokihana Festival: If you happen to be in Lihue during the annual Kauai Mokihana Festival, don’t miss the chance to experience this vibrant celebration of Hawaiian culture. Enjoy traditional music, hula performances, craft fairs, and cultural workshops that showcase the island’s rich heritage.

Remember to respect the natural environment, follow any posted rules or regulations, and practice responsible tourism while visiting Lihue. Enjoy your time exploring this beautiful destination and embrace the aloha spirit that permeates the island.

Check out these other posts to visiting Kauai

Beautiful Hanalei town

Fantastic hikes of Kauai

Visit Wailua Falls

Explore the beaches of Kauai

Did we miss anything?

Hope that this post showed you all the fun things to do around Lihue, but did we miss anything? Please share your tips or experiences in the comments below

Kalapaki Beach close to Lihue

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Would you stay in Lihue, Hawaii?

After reading the post would you stay or visit any of these attractions around Lihue? Please share on the comments below.

Conclusion to visiting Lihue, Hawaii

In conclusion, a visit to Lihue offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and enjoyable activities. From stunning beaches and waterfalls to historical sites and delicious cuisine, there is something for everyone in this charming town. Explore the wonders of Lihue, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create unforgettable memories on the picturesque island of Kauai.

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  1. Denise Stacey Arakawa

    Kauai island is beautiful !
    I love the Island 🏝 will be there again soon!

    • emorata

      Awesome, hope you get back to Kauai and Lihue again soon



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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.