10 Kauai Roadside Stops

Wailua River Lookout

Wailua River Lookout

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Visiting Kauai is all about enjoying nature on the garden island.  While your days will most likely be filled with hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures that can take up the majority of a day, it is also enjoyable to take little road trips around the island making lots of stops along the way to view waterfalls, rivers, beaches, and more.  Here are 10 of our favorite things to see in Kauai when driving around the island.  Each stop is listed in order from the farthest point on the north shore to the farthest point on the west side of Kauai.

 

Ke’e Beach

On the north shore, Ke’e Beach is the farthest point on the island you can reach by car.  On calm days, especially during the summer, Ke’e Beach is perfect for snorkeling.  The water is clear and the coral reef is full of fish.  But be sure to get to Ke’e Beach either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon as it is a very popular beach and the small parking lot fills early with both visitors to the beach and hikers of the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast.

Related: Two Epic Hikes Along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

Lumaha’i Beach

If you’re a fan of old movies, especially musicals, you’ll want to make a stop at the long sandy Lumaha’i Beach, located between Ha’ena and Hanalei Bay.  This is where Mitzi Gaynor sang I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair in South Pacific.  The waters are rough and Lumahai’i Beach is not a good swimming beach, but it is a good strolling beach.

Hanalei Lookout

The Hanalei Lookout on the side of the highway in Princeville provides gorgeous views of the valley of Hanalei.  The valley is a grid of fields of taro, growing to make poi for your luau.

Kilauea Lighthouse

In the town of Kilauea is the Kilauea Lighthouse.  Kilauea Lighthouse is on Kilauea Point, the northernmost point of the Hawaiian Islands.  The lighthouse was completed in 1913.  The lighthouse is surrounded by the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which provides a preserve for seabird nesting colonies.

Ho’opi’i Falls

Visiting the Ho’opi’i Falls requires a little hiking.  There are actually two waterfalls, but we only visited the first one, which makes for a shorter and easier hike.  Ho’op’i Falls is north of Kapa’a off of Kawaihau Road.  The trailhead starts on an old dirt road leading off of Kapahi Road.

Opaeka’a Falls, Wailua River Lookout, and Poli’ahu Heiau

South of Kapa’a up Kuamo’o Road is ‘Opaeka’a Falls.  These falls are easy to get to, as there is a big parking lot just a few yards down the road from the lookout.  Across the street from the ‘Opaeka’a Falls lookout is the Wailua River Lookout, which provides a beautiful view of the Wailua River winding through the hills out towards the ocean.  Also at the Wailua River Lookout is the Poli’ahu Heiau, one of seven heiau running along the Wailua River from the base to the top of Mount Wai’ale’ale.  A heiau is an ancient Hawaiian temple built with stones.  Within the heiau the kahuna conducted religious ceremonies.

Wailua Falls

Up Ma’alo Road, leading away from Lihu’e is Wailua Falls, another one of Kauai’s easy to reach waterfalls.

Spouting Horn Beach Park

West of Po’ipu is Spouting Horn Beach Park.  Spouting horn is a blowhole in a lava shelf which spews ocean water when waves crash against the rock.  There is an additional hole that blows air and makes a moaning sound.  There are also little shopping stalls selling Hawaiian jewelry and souvenirs at the park if you want to get a little gift shopping done as well.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, one mile wide, and over 3,600 feet deep.  Waimea Canyon is reached by driving up Waimea Canyon Drive from the town of Waimea.  There are a number of lookouts along this 19 mile road, including the also not to be missed Pu’u o Kila Lookout, which provides a gorgeous view of the Na Pali Coast from above and is also the beginning of the Pihea Trail.

Polihale State Park

The best way to end a vacation in Kauai is to watch the sunset at the farthest west point of the island.  This is the most beautiful sunset you will find on the island of Kauai.  The beach of Polihale State Park goes for miles and miles.  We watched the sunset between Nohili Point and Queen’s Pond, an area only accessible by dirt road.

Related: Hotel Review: Living in the Lap of Luxury at Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons

 
Obviously there are many more things to see and do while driving around Kauai, but these are some of our favorite roadside stops that show off many different sides of Kauai’s natural beauty.

We planned our travels to Kauai using The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook Kauai Revealed from my favorite series of guidebooks by Andrew Doughty.  As the author lives in Hawaii the guidebook always contains up-to-date information as well as very detailed maps which are useful while driving around and finding trails. 


What are your favorite things to do in Kauai?

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.

 

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