There’s quite nothing like Kauai. Being known as Hawaii’s Garden Isle, driving around the island will give you once in a lifetime views of lush green mountains, waters that reflect the blue skies and golden sun, and majestic waterfalls.
A staycation in a gorgeous paradise is always a good idea, but if you’re quite the adventurer, we suggest renting a car and going on a long road trip to make the most of your time in Kauai. With so many places to go, you will want to have the freedom of spending as much time exploring as you like.
A trip from the north to the south of Kauai spans 119 miles, which should entail about 4 hours of driving. Preparing a clear itinerary will save you time and energy, so we’ve rounded up 10 beautiful spots you can pass on your road trip. If you’ve got the time, there’s no stopping you from visiting them all!
1. Ke’e Beach
The Na Pali coast begins at Haena State Park, where you can find the very special Ke’e Beach. Known for its calm and clear waters, it makes for a great spot for snorkeling and swimming. Parking near the beach can be difficult especially during the summer, but there should be a dirt parking lot near the end of the road. Avoid swimming during high surfs and prepare for zero cell reception.
2. Queen’s Bath
Driving down to Princeville, you’ll find Queen’s Bath, a tide pool that was once used as a bathing spot for Hawaiian royalty. This unique rock formation encloses a clear, turquoise pool and faces a huge sea. Like any spot near the shoreline, be extra careful when dipping into the bath during high surf.
3. Oepaka’a Falls
On Kuamoo Road between Lihue and Kapaa is one of Kauai’s most famous waterfalls, the Oepaka’a Falls. This beauty can be spotted from the road, and is about 20 steps away from the parking area. There are restrooms at the parking area and crossing the road will give you a great view of Kauai’s Wailua River.
4. Alekoko Fishpond
Upon reaching Lihue, make sure to find the Alekoko Fishpond, also known as Menehune Fishpond. It is Kauai’s historic fishpond that is listed on Hawaii’s National Register of Historic Places. Legends say the fishpond is one of the aqua pools the early settlers of the island built with their impressive engineering and construction skills.
5. Maluhia Road
Another gorgeous sight you can spot right inside your car is Maluhia Road, which is a lush stretch of road covered in eucalyptus trees. The road is wide enough for you to make a stop at the side if you wish to take in the beauty that this natural canopy has.
6. Makauwahi Cave
Home to Kauai’s largest limestone areas is the Makauwahi Cave, a spot that was formed after a sand dune collapsed. Walk to the end and you’ll find a breathtaking open ground, much like the end of the cave in the animated film, Spirited Away.
7. Allerton Garden
One of the five gardens that make up Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Gardens is Allerton Garden, which has been home to a few film productions because of its picturesque setting. This 80-acre garden was created and curated by Robert Allerton and is situated by Lawa’i Bay.
8. Glass Beach
Located in the middle of an industrial area near Port Allen Harbor is Glass Beach, an incredible beach covered with millions of sea glass pebbles. A few years ago, broken bottles and auto glass were dumped into these waters. About 30 years later, this resulted into smoothened glass or sea glass that now colors the shore in brown, aqua, clear and blue.
9. Waimea Canyon Lookout
At the south of the island is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon Lookout. Being surrounded by various plants and trees, it provides a dynamic landscape and an immensely beautiful scene. If you plan to add the canyon to your itinerary, consider going up the Koke’e State Park nearby to get uninterrupted views of this wonder.
10. Polihale Beach
Finally, at the end of Kuamuali’l Highway is Polihale Beach, which is home to the largest stretch of sand in Hawaii. The place is perfect for those who love to frolic in shallow waters or take walks on the beach, but is often overlooked because of its remoteness compared to other Kauai beaches. Considering adding this as your last stop if you wish to spend some quiet time by the beach.
Kauai indeed has much to offer to curious wanderers. Aside from picking spots to visit, don’t forget to check the weather, plan your rests, and gear up properly. Good luck and bon voyage!