1) Go surfing. This may seem obvious but surfing is Kauai is TOPNOTCH. Prior to visiting Kauai, I had never surfed in such clear and warm water. Mexico pales in comparison to Kauai. You can find all sorts of surf breaks around the entire island that will suit any level of surfer. Newbies will love Hanalei Bay and the local favorite Anini Beach or Keālia Beach (Andy Irons’ favorite surf spot) while more advanced surfers will love Poipu Beach and Tunnels. The summer is great if you’re looking for chill waves with not a lot of force. That said, the current can get quite strong around the island, so it’s always better to go in the water with a buddy or somewhere where there’s a lifeguard. Since I was new to the island, it also took me a little bit of time to get familiarized with the swell and different breaks. There are lots of sharp corals in the water so little boots or water shoes can be helpful.
2) Fly over the island with Blue Hawaiian. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but flying over Kauai is a must if you can swing it. It is one the pricer excursions you can do while in Kauai but well worth the money. It’s really the best way to see the island inside and out, as a lot of the island is wild and only accessible via boat or helicopter. Not only is the scenery unreal but you will learn a tremendous amount about the island’s history, evolution, etc. The 80-minute tour left me speechless. We got the chance to fly over the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, Mana Waiapuna also known as the “Jurassic Park Falls’, got up close and personal with the Na Pali Coast and the Bali Hai Cliffs, which made me pinch myself a couple of times, what a sight! We also got a full tour of the different little towns and regions of the island. The Blue Hawaiian team were excellent tour guides and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Flying over the island just makes you appreciate nature that much more and makes you want to do anything in your power to conserve such beauty.
3) Get food at Java Kai. Located on the east side of Kauai, in the historic Kapaa town, this local hotspot is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day snack. All of their food is homemade from scratch. Their menu is filled with local specialties, healthy and vegetarian treats and colorful bites. There’s also a great community vibe at the shop making you want to come back again and again. I’m secretly hoping they’ll open up other locations in the US or Canada in the near future.
4) Go horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch. One of the best ways to explore the garden island is by horse. The Silver Falls Ranch offers unique horseback riding excursions that allow you to explore the pristine scenery of the island. Led by informative and professional guides, these half-day excursions allow you to fully explore local nature, wildlife while also making a stop at a beautiful waterfall for a swim and a Hawaiian lunch. The groups are small and the horses are all exceptionally well trained. My horse “Ohia”, named after a beautiful local tree was such a joy to ride with. It’s a great way to venture off into areas of the island you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
5) Visit the Koloa Rum Company. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary while in Kauai, head over to the Koloa Rum Company in Lihue. The rum company is located on the former Kilohana Plantation. In addition to being able to visit the plantation via train and by foot, you can also go for complimentary tastings that are offered every half-hour starting at 10 am daily. Koloa Rum produces single-batch Hawaiian rum with locally sourced ingredients at their distillery located near the town of Kalaheo. The rum is distilled twice using their vintage 1,210-gallon copper-pot still with a copper column and condenser. Their goal is to produce quality products while using sustainable practices and while also preserving the open agricultural space of the island. They first started producing rum in 2009 and have since won many international competitions and awards for the delicious rum they produce. From coffee to coconut, pineapple and sugar, the different flavoured rums are sure to please everyone.