With our beautiful beaches, serene sunsets, great surf, and laid-back lifestyle its no wonder people from all over the world flock to explore Kauai year-round. While there’s a wealth of information out there on the top tourist activities on the island, we wanted to give you a few of our favorite ‘insider tips’ for enjoying our beautiful island like a local.
If there happens to be a large ocean swell during your visit, Anini Beach is the place to go. No matter when you visit, this beautiful blue lagoon feels more like a lake year round due to a large coral wall that keeps out the waves. There is no lifeguard however it is pretty shallow making it perfect for those looking for a less intimidating ocean experience. Even here make sure you use discretion while swimming!
Hike up the Sleeping Giant Trail in Kapaa
With its breathtaking views and wonderful hiking, The Sleeping Giant is no secret to tourists visiting Kauai each year. While there are many trails to reach the peak there is one that is a favorite that begins at the end of Lokiloni Road. This hike is in what we call the "Goldilocks Zone" - not too short and not too long. Drive up to the end of Lokiloni Road and you will see a very small parking area with some additional parking along a rock wall. (Note, it is a neighborhood so please drive slowly and respectively.) Once hiking, you will think you've reached the top, as you'll arrive to a flat area with a couple picnic tables. There is a sweet view there worth taking a look, however, if you still have it in you to go just a little bit further, keep walking back and you'll see the path continues. It does end at the top of some rocks so as always only go to that point if you feel comfortable and even still be very mindful. The 360-degree view of Kapaa overlooking the ocean and mountains is remarkable and worth the journey.
Stargazing & Camping: Polihale State Park
Compared to most populated places in the world, really anywhere on Kauai is great for stargazing. However, Polihale's 16-mile stretch of beach on the far west side of Kauai is a whole other level of stargazing not to be missed!
Depending on where you're staying on the island it is a bit of a drive with a long gravel road but well worth the trip. It is the furthest away from the lights of the nearby towns so you get a fully immersive (almost planetarium style) display of the stars. If the moon is up when you are there... do not despair! While there will be less stars visible, seeing the moon at Polihale beach with its endless stretch of sand and cliffs is its own magic and equally as beautiful. Tip: Parts of the road towards the end have some sand so keep in mind not to drive through if it looks too deep for your vehicle. And don't drive on the beach as you will get stuck, even in a jeep.
Happy Hour with local brews or a "Healthy Happy Hour" Take your pick ☺
Whether you prefer a sundowner cocktail or a fresh juice there are plenty of great options where you can join locals to unwind after a day of work or a day in the surf. If you're looking for the former, check out Street Burger in Kapaa. While they may not have an actual "happy hour" they do have over 20 beers on tap - many brewed right in Hawaii. If you're looking for the latter then Kauai Juice Co. is the spot with fresh made juices and kombucha and they just happen to be located right next to Java Kai, on the backside.
"Secret" Quick Coffee
That leads us into The Kai Bar. Which is a "secret" part of Java Kai. So lets say you had an early breakfast at Java Kai in the morning ;) or maybe you're fasting and just want to grab a coffee but you want to avoid the line at our main cafe... If you're facing Java Kai, you'll see a little alleyway to the left just on the other side of Shipwrecked boutique. Walk through there and around to the back and you'll see "Kai Bar" next to Kauai Juice Co. This is our "express coffee" spot only open until 11am to help coffee drinkers get their fix.
Explore and Eat at a Farmers Market
No matter where in the world you go there is always one thing you should do: enjoy the local, fresh produce and food. Kauai has an abundance of farmers markets (over 20 on a weekly basis!) featuring the best produce, baked goods, snacks and more. If you happen to be staying at an accommodation with a kitchen we highly recommend grabbing some food from a farmers market and taking a stab at cooking some local cuisine!
Staying at a hotel? Still be sure to visit the farmers market to mix and mingle with locals, taste the flavors of the island and grab a snack to go!
Check Out Some Live Music Scenes
There’s nothing that puts us in a relaxed vacation mood quite like sipping a cocktail and listening to some great live music. Kauai’s laid-back vibe attracts lots of great musicians as well as a local audience that loves to support their neighbors. If you are in the Hanalei side of the island you’ll see the most nightlife options and should definitely check out a favorite live music joint among the locals - Tahiti Nui. Another local hang out over on the south side in Poipu is Keoki's Paradise , a favorite spot offering live music on the weekends.