If you’re into amazing scenery and fun outdoor activities, you can save bundles on your Kauai vacation, while having the time of your life. Here are some of my favorite places to see and things to do on Kauai, and they are all free!
Napali Coast – Hike the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail. This is a moderate hike, popular with families. This first section of the Na Pali Coast State Park’s trail takes you up about 700 feet (the vistas of the ocean and Ke’e reef is amazing) and then down to a secluded, white sand beach cove. The beach is beautiful but the currents and surf can be treacherous. Instead of taking a dip in the ocean here, stop at the stream just before the trail descends to the cove. There’s a nice little pool with small, rushing waterfalls. Cost: Free.
See the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Mark Twain’s name for Kauai’s Waimea Canyon has stuck for over 100 years. You’ll understand if you go. The rocky canyon is rugged, 2,700 feet deep and is the color of a desert artist’s palette. This is a state park and free to hike, or you can just stop at the viewing point and enjoy from there. It’s usually hot and dry, and there’s a stream and waterfalls to refresh you. Cost: Free.
Stroll through the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Beautiful, well landscaped and maintained gardens with both native and introduced tropical species. Besides enjoying these national treasures, you can learn about Hawaiian history and culture, environmental stewardship and horticulture practices. There are three garden sites: two on Kauai’s sunny South Shore and one on the green and lush North Shore. Cost: Free. Donations accepted.
Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. If you love lighthouses, you have lots of company. This is one of the most visited sites on Kauai, with more than half a million visitors flocking here each year to view the historical lighthouse, as well as the sea birds flying around the cliffs and in Hawaii’s winter (December through April), the whales below. Cost: Free.
Relax and play on beautiful Kauai’ beaches. Kauai has some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, and is encircled by an almost complete lei of white and golden sands. A popular family beach on the sunny South Shore is Poipu with its gentle surf (in front of the Sheraton). And a popular snorkeling beach on the North Shore, especially with beginning snorkelers, is Anini. (If you want to snorkel but don’t have gear, the Hawaii chain, Snorkel Bob’s, rents fins and mask for $9 per week.) Beach cost: Free. All Kauai beaches are free to the public and wherever property blocks access, there is a public trail a few feet away. You can also enter, for free, through the hotel grounds (and enjoy the resorts’ landscaping and art while you’re at it!).