1. Catch the sunset at Lumahai Beach on the North Shore.
The North Shore’s Lumahai Beach is the perfect example of a gorgeous Hawaii beach that will make you the envy of anyone who knows you’re there. Luscious white sands, clear waters, and a great view of the sunset makes it a must visit, no matter what you’re doing on Kauai. It truly is paradise.
Pro tip: Lumahai’s currents can get pretty strong, so make sure that you are aware of the water conditions before jumping in, and be advised of the many rocks throughout the beach.
2. Familiarize yourself with an amazing plate lunch at Da Imu Hut Cafe in Eleele.
Must try: Teri fried chicken, hamburger steak
3. Hike among the tallest of trees at Sugi Grove near Kokee.
Pro tip: It’s heavily recommended you follow these directions and get a 4 wheel-drive vehicle before coming up here. Even better, befriend a knowledgeable local person to find the not so obvious path to Sugi Grove.
4. Go through a magical, easy snorkel at Tunnels Beach on the North Shore.
Pro tip: Park at one of the many open spots at Ha’ena State Park and enjoy the 10 minute walk, which is full of Hawaii’s many native trees and flowers.
5. Try the best poke at Ishihara Market in Waimea.
Must try: Spicy ahi poke, king crab poke
6. Feel like you’re truly away from the world at Polihale State Park on the West Side.
Pro tip: Really, really be careful when you’re swimming. The water is usually a great temperature, but there’s no reef blocking Polihale from the open ocean.
7. Push your limits on a hike to see the best of Kauai’s nature at Hanakapi’ai Falls.
Pro tip: Take your best gear and get in shape before you do the hike. The trail is tough even on a day with completely clear skies, and you’re simply going to want all of your essential gear before doing something so epic.
8. Get away from the crowds while still enjoying the best of Hanalei Bay at Waioli/Pine Trees Beach.
Pro tip: If you need some activity after your swim, there’s a few volleyball courts on the north end of the beach that always have people playing. Go make some friends!
9. Find great sights of the mountains, turtles, and monk seals on the easy Mahaulepuhike.
Pro tip: The hike is mostly regular elevation, which means that it’s totally okay for everyone to come along. More amazing pictures for everybody!
10. Experience a wide variety of amazing food trucks at Hanapepe Art Night.
Must try: Kickshaw’s 100% Awesome Burger (80% fresh ground chuck steak, 20% ground bacon, pineapple-black-pepper-onion marmalade, cheddar, arugula, tomato), Porky’s Kalua Pork hot dogs, Paradise Grinds’ fried ice cream
11. Enjoy the clearest, most unique tidepools at Makapu’u.
Pro tip: Be careful of the occasional large wave that comes into the tidepool, as it can sweep you away to sea if you have your back turned. Also, the rocks slightly above the tidepool are a great place for your valuables before your swim.
12. Hike through World War II history to see Oahu from the top at Lanikai Pillboxes.
Pro tip: You can find the hike’s entrance by searching for its sign, which is near the Mid-Pacific Country Club. Make sure to also keep quiet and pick up your trash around the area – there is a thriving neighborhood around the hike.
13. Taste the best Hawaiian food at Helena’s in Kalihi.
Must try: Combo C – Kalua Pig, Lomi Salmon and Pipikaula Short Ribs
14. Get lost in cool waters and clear sunsets at Haleiwa Beach Park on the North Shore.
Pro tip: It actually is pretty common to see turtles on the shoreline, and they are usually active in the day. However, make sure you observe them from a distance and give them their space – they are an especially protected species in Hawaii.
15. Get a view of the other islands by hiking to the top of Koko Head.
Pro tip: If you need to stock up on goods before your hike, check out the nearby Koko Marina Shopping Center. Also, beware of the steps and be careful, as the concrete can get a bit slippery after rain.
Must try: Curry udon, teriyaki chicken rice bowl
17. Catch great views of legendary waves by hiking to Ka’ena Point State Park.
Pro tip: Wear sunscreen, bring water, and wear comfortable shoes – both trails offer little shade, especially during hot days.
18. See a beautifully clear blue sea at Waimanalo Beach Park on the Windward side.
Pro tip: Just as you would with many public beach bathrooms, make sure you bring someone with you when you have to go. Make sure to also beware of any Portuguese man o’ war jelly fish in the winter.
19. Have a tasty, colorful shave ice at Waiola Shave Ice in Moiliili.
Must try: Rainbow shave ice with snow cap
20. Swim, snorkel, kayak, or relax at Makaha Beach Park on the west side.
Pro tip: The current can vary, so make sure that you’re always aware of any signs before you head into the water. Also, park close to the beach, and not in the lot across the street – it’ll be easier to keep an eye on your car.
21. Have all the space you want at Big Beach on the southside.
Pro tip: There aren’t really any places to eat around the area except for the occasional food truck here and there, so make sure you bring something ready to eat. Tables for a picnic are also located close to the parking lot.
22. Drive through lush greenery on the Road To Hana.
Pro tip: Standard driving safety rules apply, but please – do not be the type that slows down traffic considerably just to take a picture. There will be many opportunities to do so, and it’s important to stay aware despite the beauty.
23. Find out how dry noodles can be so tasty at Sam Sato’s in Wailuku.
Must try: Dry noodles, manju
24. Swim with exotic fish and enjoy rich reef life at Kapalua Beach.
Pro tip: If you’re going to snorkel, do it at the north end of the beach near the reef – the water is at its clearest here and you’ll get a great look at the reef.
25. Find the calmest pair of waterfalls around at Twin Falls past mile 2 on the Hana Highway.
Pro tip: There’s a concession stand at the beginning of the trail, so feel free to double down on some fresh fruits from the rainforest before you begin your journey. The trail itself can get pretty slippery and watery, so remember to wear good shoes.
26. Feast on fresh fish at Mama’s Fish House in Paia.
Must try: Grilled ahi in ti leaf with papaya, chili pepper and coconut rice, Hana banana macadamia nut crisp
27. Revel in the uninterrupted glory of Hamoa Beach in Hana.
Pro tip: Make sure you fully understand what the current is like before heading in, as the waves can easily throw someone and create the opportunity for potential injuries. There is no designated parking on the beach, so make sure to find somewhere by the dirt lot.
28. Go up into the clouds and look down on Maui by hiking Waihe’e Ridge Trail in Wailuku.
Pro tip: Rain makes the trail frequently slippery, so make sure to bring some great shoes for traction. Be aware of any edges that may lead to danger.
Must try: Fried spam musubi, Da Kitchen burger
30. Surf dream waves at Launiupoko Beach in Lahaina.
Pro tip: If you go on Saturday, go across the street to find the Farmer’s Market, as there are a ton of vendors selling delicious local fruits including papayas, mangos, oranges, and more.
31. Walk on green sand at Papakolea in Kau.
Pro tip: There are often reports of locals charging visitors $10 per person one way to drive them to Green Sand Beach. Truth is, finding the beach isn’t that hard during your hike, and you’re better off saving your money.
32. Adventure through Hawaiian history on a hike through Polulu Valley in the Kohala Mountain.
Pro tip: There are some private homes among the trail, so please be respectful. If you’re going to the beach, remember to be careful of the sometimes slippery surface and bring water to counter the heat.
33. Get your local food fix at Da Poke Shack in Kailua-Kona.
Must try: Pele’s Kiss Poke (spicy), Poke Bowl Poke Plate
34. Travel through gorgeous white sands and clear waters at Hapuna Beach.
Pro tip: There is a $5 parking fee for the beach, so make sure you have some cash on hand. Currents can get pretty rough especially around the winter, so make sure not to go too far out.
35. Stroll through an ancient lava flow point at the Thurston Lava Tube at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Pro tip: You may want to bring a head lamp if you have kids or if you’re bothered by the lack of light. The tunnel is a pretty quick however, so maybe you can conquer your fears just this once.
36. Enjoy delightful Japanese cuisine at Teshima’s in Kealakekua.
Must try: No.2 Teishoko (Miso Soup, Sashimi, Sukiyaki, Fried Fish, Sunomono, Tsukemono, Rice), Kona Up-Country Chop Steak
37. Lay on soft sand and watch smooth waves hit the shore at Kua Bay in Kailua-Kona.
Pro tip: There is no shade provided by trees or the elements here, so make sure to bring an umbrella. Parking is also usually limited, so get there early to avoid the hassle of guessing where your car is.
38. Watch two beautiful giant waterfalls on the hike to Akaka Falls in Honomu.
Pro tip: Walking in from the road will cost $1 per person, but it’s recommended you park close and pay the $5 total. After all, you wouldn’t want to strain yourself coming back from such a beautiful encounter.
39. Have great pizza with a local twist at Longboard Legends in Kailua-Kona.
Must try: Mr. Pipeline’s Combo (Tomato basil sauce, Mozzarella, Provolone, Hawaiian Ham, Pepperoni, Bell Pepper, Onion, Black Olive and Mushroom), Big Island Hawaiian (Tomato Basil Sauce, Hawaiian Ham, Mozzarella, Provolone, Fresh Pineapple and Fresh Tomato)
40. Spend some time enjoying the calm scenery at Wailea/Beach 69 in Waimea.
Pro tip: There are rocks scattered throughout the beach, so think about going elsewhere if you want to do some serious snorkeling. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for the many exotic fish that swim through the waters.