I’ve been to Kauai so many times for elopements and couples portraits, but I hardly ever get the chance to slow down and enjoy the island. So my fav travel buddy Efrain and I made a pretttyyyy epic island hop vacay over the summer! We got to relax and enjoy The Garden Isle and of course I couldn’t help but bring my camera along. I got to revisit some of my favorite places and go to some new spots, and I got the closest I’ve ever been to the forbidden island of Niihau!
This blog is a mix of photos from this trip, and some of my fav recommendations in general of things to do in Kauai. Let’s go!
Things to do in Kauai
Napali Coast Boat Tour
The boat tour was at the top of my list of things to do on our trip. It was also the highlight! There are so many ways to see the Napali Coast, it’s hard to choose just one. This time we went with the Niihau + Napali Super Tour with Holo Holo Charters. Niihau is the only inhabited island that I’ve never been to… because I’m not allowed there! It’s called the forbidden island because it’s closed to outsiders, and you need to be invited to visit. There are a few (difficult) ways to get around that, but I haven’t had the opportunity. When I saw the super tour goes off the coast of Niihau, I literally stuttered and couldn’t contain my excitement!! So this was an easy choice for us. It’s a pretty long day with 7 hours on the water. But there wasn’t a dull moment. The views were the most stunning that I’ve ever seen. We also got to see dolphins, waterfalls, caves, and snorkel in the pristin water off Niihau. If you are prone to motion sickness like me, taking Bonine will do the trick!
Alakai Swamp Trail
The hike to “the wettest place on earth” is quite a doozy. We hiked somewhere around 8-9 miles total, and I was on the struggle bus on the way back. This was one of those “the journey is the destination” hikes for me. We hardly saw anyone through the jungle on the way out and it was really peaceful. But when we got to the lookout we couldn’t see anything through the cloud cover. Nonetheless, it was the most unique hike I’ve been on in Hawaii, and I earned my Mai Tai’s for the day. On the way in, you can view the Napali Coast from the mountain side, which is epic to say the least!
This is an all time favorite for me. The weather was a little dreary which I was initially disappointed about, until I turned around and saw all the waterfalls in the mountain backdrop. STUNNING. We had to toss the drone up for a few shots of that. The town of Hanalei is also super cute. I like to grab a smoothie at The Aloha Juice Bar and walk around all the shops.
This. Is. A. Must. Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It is by far the most unique thing I’ve seen on any of the Hawaiian islands and one of my favorite things to do in Kauai! There are a lot of designated hiking trails, and random stop offs that you can make to see the waterfall. I photographed an amazing Waimea Canyon elopement earlier this year, so I was stoked to take Efrain to this spot!
Kamokila Hawaiian Village
This is kind of a two for one stop. Park at Opaeka‘a Falls to check out the view of the waterfall there, and then cross the street to the lookout over the river. It’s really beautiful! Then drive down toward the signs for the village, you will see them at the lookout. You can rent a kayak to go out to Secret Falls and walk the grounds of a traditional Hawaiian village. We were trying to relax more on this trip, so we skipped the kayak but got our nerd on at the village. It’s well worth the stop if you’re looking for some culture!
Tiki Tacos in Kapaa
Island Taco in Waimea
Makai Sushi in Koloa
Lava Lava Beach Club in Kapaa
Lotus Garden Chinese + Thai in Princeville
The cookie dough ice cream sandwich at Papalani Gelato in Koloa
I have monthly and sometimes weekly island hops, so be sure to follow me on Insta as I post about my travels on my stories!