Kauai Things To Do

The most popular question people ask about Kauai is, “What is there to do in Kauai?“. There are so many things to do on Kauai that you could easily fill up a month or two.  Read on to find out the top 21 things to do on Kauai.

Kauai is one of the top places to visit in the world

Page Content

  • Top 21 Things to Do on Kauai
  • Budget Travel – Kauai for $40 a Day
  • Answers to the Top Questions People Ask
  • Cheap flight, car rental and accommodation bookings
  • Tour bookings
  • Resources
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Our Budget for 30 Days on Kauai

1. Why Go to Kauai?

Kauai is the most tropical and lush island on the chain of the Hawaiian Islands. It is an island paradise with towering mountains, dramatic cliffs and valleys, spectacular views, deeply embedded arts, food and culture, over 60 beaches and an unlimited number of outdoor recreational activities. The weather is perfect and the temperature only varies about 15 degrees with a water temperature of 75F.

Kauai is the oldest and the most northern island of the chain. Polynesian explorers discovered the most remote chain of islands in the world between 300 and 700 A.D. and populated the 8 main islands, living in a virtual paradise. Europeans discovered the island in the late 1700s. Industrial plantations developed after 1835 bringing workers from China, Japan, Philippines and Portugal. Tourism on Kauai began in the 1960s.

When you land at the airport in Lihue and walk through the open terminal the air is fragrant with the smell of tropical flowers. That tactile fragrance is your first experience to the Garden Isle. Kauai is my favourite Hawaiian Island. We have been to Kauai twice, the first time for a week and the second time for a month. I would live there if I could. It is a beautiful spot in the world. I love the lifestyle of the Hawaiian people. I appreciate the friendliness and welcoming nature that every Hawaiian has given us over the years.

The welcoming nature of Hawaiians is Ho’oikpa. Welcoming strangers with the spirit of Aloha is an important part of the Hawaiians’ makeup. The Island of Kauai has a universal laid back feeling. Kauai is an unique place and one of the top 10 places to visit in the world. 

Ship Wrecks Beach, Kauai: budgetslowtravel.com
Shipwreck (Keoneloa Bay) Beach, Poipu

2. What is There to Do on Kauai?

A lot of what there is to do in Kauai involves being outside in nature. We stayed on the East Coast or the Coconut Coast.  When we went exploring we could turn left and drive to the North Shore or turn right and go to Lihue, the South Shore, and the West Side. I have put the things to do in order from the West Side around to the North Shore. 

West Side

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is one of the top things to do in Kauai
When Mark Twain visited Waimea Canyon he called it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. At the far end of the West Side, the 14 mile Waimea Canyon has views as spectacular as the Grand Canyon. Driving up to the top is one of the most popular things to do in Kauai. From the main city of Lihue the drive is 45 miles and takes about 1.5 hours. It is 18 miles up the mountain on Hwy 550 from the town of Waimea.

Staying in Waimea

Loie and I stayed in Waimea for a week the first time we went to Kauai. We rented a cottage at the Waimea Plantation Cottages. The cottages have been moved from sugar cane plantations to the site. The stay was lovely and we even had our own house cat that visited daily. There are two pull off spots to view the canyon. Stop on the way up at the Waipo’o Falls lookout. There is a terrific view of the falls and the green covered rocks. There is a parking lot across the road. Be careful crossing the road as it is busy at times. At the top of the canyon is Pu’u Hinahina Lookout.

Kalalau Lookout

Kalalau Lookout​: budgetslowtravel.com
Continuing another 5 miles will take you to Kalalau Lookout. The road ends here with breathtaking views of the Na Pali coast. There is a good grassy picnic area here with restrooms. After a short hike along the trail we stopped for lunch here.

South Shore


Hanapepe sign :budgetslowtravel.com
Hanapepe Bridge : budgetslowtravel.com

Hanapēpē, Hawaiian for ‘Crushed Bay’, is the art capital of Kauai. It is a great spot to stop and wander around on your way up to or back from Waimea Canyon.  I like to stop on the way back and have an ice cream cone at one of the sidewalk tables. Loie loves to browse through the shops looking for that perfect something.

The authentic historic plantation era buildings are often used as a backdrop for Hollywood movies. The supply and feed stores have been taken over by boutique shops and galleries. There are a number of art galleries and on Fridays from 5-9 pm the artists have an open house where they meet the public and there is an excitement in the air. Behind the main street is the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge,  popular spot for picture taking.

Kauai Coffee Plantation

Kauai Coffee Company Sign:budgetslowtravel.com

If you like coffee, you will want to stop at the Kauai Coffee Company located between Hanapēpē and Old Koloa Town. The coffee company began as the McBride’s Sugar Plantation in the 1800s. In 1987 the company moved from sugar cane to coffee plants.

The Kauai Coffee Company now has 4.5 million coffee plants under cultivation on 3100 acres and is the largest coffee grower in the United States. 

Coffee plants require a lot of water, up to 10 gallons per plant per day. That is 450 million gallons per day! The water comes from Mount Wai’ale’ale which means “overflowing water”. One of the most rainiest places on Earth, it is covered by a constant rain cloud and receives over 385 inches of rain per year. Five times more than any other mountain in Kauai.

The plantation has free tours, a small museum with an educational video and free coffee for tasting. You can easily spend a couple of hours here.

Old Koloa Town

There are two roads into Old Koloa Town. The old road is Hwy 530 and the first mile or so goes through a beautiful eucalyptus tree tunnel planted in 1911.

Koloa’s development began when the first sugar mill opened in 1835. The original plantation buildings in Old Koloa Town now house boutique shops and restaurants. It is a good stop for browsing around the picturesque town. 

Stop into the History Center to view pictures and read about the history of the area. The Old Koloa Town website has good historical write ups of twelve heritage buildings. You can also find out what events are being planned for when you are in the area. 

I recommend following the Koloa Heritage Trail that will take you an hour or two. It is a ten mile trail with fourteen stops. The trail takes you through the Koloa District as you explore a variety of important cultural, heritage and geological sites. You can print out a PDF of the stops.

Travel Gear You May Need For Your Trip To Kauai

When you buy things at tourist shops you pay double or triple what you would elsewhere. Small things like sunscreen, sun hats, water bottles, and phone cables.

Click on any of these items and you will be taken to Amazon where you can browse and order the little important things that make your trip so much better. We get a small commission and you get great prices and free shipping. It is so convenient. Thank you for supporting our website.


looking over the beach at Poipu

Located on the dry side of Kauai, Poipu was the logical place for resorts to develop the land. Here you will find all the large resorts such as the Grand Hyatt and the Sheraton along with many condo developments. The area has the feel of a resort development with manicured lawns, golf courses, restaurants and shops. 

Poipu Beach has been rated as the #1 beach in the United States. It is a great beach for families and young children. Other popular beaches along this stretch of coastline are Kiahuna Beach for snorkeling, Brenneke’s Beach for boogey boarding, and Keoneloa Beach also called Shipwreck Beach for surfing.

Above Shipwreck Beach is the Grand Hyatt and you can go to their beach lounge for a drink and snack. You can also access the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail here for a great walk along the ocean

Puhi - Spouting Horn

the spouting horn at Poipu is a popular thing to see on Kauai

Puhi means ‘to blow’ in Hawaiian. Along the ocean are hollow lava tubes formed when the superheated lava hits the cold ocean. Over time, the tube bottoms get eroded away by the waves. The waves slam into the open tube at the bottom and shoot out the top with a roar. In rough water the puhi shoots to heights of 60 feet. 

In Hawaiian legend a giant mo’o (lizard) named Kaikapū lived on the coast. She devoured all who came close. One day a brave young fisherman named Liko, who wanted to fish and harvest the seaweed along the coast, tricked Kaikaū into chasing him into a lava tube. With the mo’o roaring close behind Liko jumped out through the opening at the top of the tube and the mo’o got wedged and stuck behind him. The hiss and roar you hear today is the trapped mo’o roaring in anger. 

Drive along Poipu Road. When you come to the roundabout take Lawai Road until you reach Spouting Horn Park. There are public restrooms here and picnic tables. We have had lunch here a few times. It is a very pleasant spot.


Lihue is the commercial and government center of Kauai. The airport is at Lihue along with beaches, museums and shopping in local stores and they have a Costco and the Kukui Shopping Center. Loie’s favourite fabric store, Kapaia Stitchery, is here. The fabric they carry is unbelievable. It really is something to see and I don’t even sew or quilt. Downtown Lihue also has a number of Hawaiian clothing stores where you can buy your Aloha shirt or dress. 

We love live music and were able to go to a Kauai Voices concert held at a local church. The concert was very well setup. There was a great selection of food stands. One of them was a pie stand and the slices of pies were unbelievable. Tender crusts, lots of filling and just delicious. The choir and the selections they sang were wonderful and kept us entertained for over an hour.

Wailua Falls

Next to Kapaia Stitchery is Hwy 583 that takes you four miles to Wailua Falls. This spectacular double falls was used in the opening of the TV show, Fantasy Island

The best thing is that you can drive right to the falls. It is one of the few waterfalls in Hawaii that you can drive to. The others all require a hike or a helicopter. As usual, go early as the parking pulloff gets full especially on weekends. There are usually snack trucks on site. 

You can hike down to the pool but be careful as it is extremely steep and muddy. You can get seriously hurt if you slip and fall. Plus the water is cold and the rocks are slippery. Are you getting the hint not to climb down to the pool.


Koloa rum distillery tasting host shaking a bottle in Lihue, Kauai

Kilohana is a tropical plantation on the west side of Lihue open to the public. At the center of the plantation is the historic 1935 mansion built for sugar baron Gaylord Wilcox who lived in it until his death in 1970.

The 16,000 square foot plantation house has a bar lounge, Gaylord’s Restaurant and gift shop. I have been here three times and have had a great experience each time. Gaylord’s is one of the top restaurants on Kauai. The public is encouraged to explore this grand example of Hawaiian plantation architecture.

The Kōloa Rum Company tasting room is next to the Company Store. They have free tastings on the hour.  The groups for each tasting is limited to 10 people. Our host was hilarious. Within a few minutes she knew everybody’s name and where they were from. It was an amazing feat of memory. Her delivery of the tasting dialogue was like a standup comic and the group howled with laughter. 

There is a train ride that you can take. We took it with our mom and cousin. The trip is around the plantation with stops along the way for the guide to give  information. The highlight is stopping and feeding the wild boars that the plantation raises.

Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki beach is a top thing to do in Kauai

Located right in Lihue in front of the Marriott Resort, Kalapaki Beach is a beautiful beach for sunning and playing in the water. The beach is in a bay so it does not get the crashing waves of the open ocean beaches. 

We have been here a number of times and it is alway quiet. The other great thing is that the Marriott Resort is right there for food and beverages if you did not pack your own. There are also lots of rental accommodations in this area.

We have spent the late morning here and had lunch at the resort and we have spent the afternoon here and had dinner at Duke’s. If you have read my Oahu page you will know that Duke’s in Waikiki is one of our favourite places. It was our mom’s birthday so we took her here. She insisted on paying so dinner was free.

East Coast - Royal Coconut Coast

Royal Coconut Coast : budgetslowtravel.com

Lydgate Beach Park

Lydgate Beach Park : budgetslowtravel.com

This is a great beach for families with children and those who do not like rough water. The beach has a lava rock breakwater that creates two protected lagoons. Small tropical fish enter the lagoon through the porous lava rock.

There is plenty of parking, lifeguards, a large children’s playground, lots of picnic area, showers and restrooms. For walkers there is a 2.5 mile coastal pathway to walk.

The park is located beside the Wailua River just before Kapa’a when coming from Lihue.

Wailua River State Park

cruising on Wailua River, Kauai

Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawaii. This lush river valley was the home of Hawaiian Kings back in the day. In this state park you will find beautiful waterfalls, the amazing Fern Grotto, and a replica of a traditional Hawaiian village.

You can rent kayaks and paddle boards to paddle up the river or you can take a guided tour on the Smith’s Fern Grotto Tour. The cost is $30 for the boat ride up the Wailua River with guided narration along the way, hula dancing, and a walk about the Fern Grotto where the Smith family has Hawaiian musicians playing Hawaiian music.

If you rent a kayak (it is a bit of a distance on a paddle board) you can stop in at the Kamokila Village to see how the ancient Hawaiians lived. You can also drive to it down a narrow steep driveway.

Opaeka'a Falls

Opaeka'a Falls: budgetslowtravel.com

As soon as you cross the Wailua River coming from Lihue, you take a left onto Kuamo’o Road which is Hwy 580. A few minutes up the road will take you to the pull out for Opaeka’a Falls. You will see the falls in the distance. 

Further up the road as you drive through the Wailua homesteads is another small falls, Kaholalele Falls close to the Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. The monastery is set in a lush setting and is open to the public with restricted hours. It took us a couple of visits before we hit a time that it was open.

On the way down you will be able to get a good look at the Wailua River valley.

Keahua Arboretum

Continuing a few more miles on Hwy 580 you will climb up to the Keahua Arboretum. This is a popular place for locals up in the cool mountains. You will see families cooking at one of the the many picnic areas throughout the arboretum. Cool off by swimming in one of the several  stream pools that is fed by Mount Wai’ale’ale. Further up past the first picnic area there is a fun rope swing into a stream pool.

When you park there is a grove of rainbow eucalyptus trees planted by the University of Hawaii. These trees shed their bark revealing bright splashes of green, orange and purple underneath.

The road continues farther into the high valley crossing flowing streams that may be swollen if it is raining up on the top of the mountains. We were able to carefully drive our rental car through the streams.There are a number of trails like the 1.5 mile Kuilau Ridge Trail that you can hike while you are up here.

Ke Ala Hele Makalee Path

Ke Ala Hele Makalee Path

Ke Ala Hele Makalee means , “the path along the coast”. This great multi-use path begins in Kapa’a and extends for 4.5 miles along the ocean coastline. Along the way there are beautiful vistas and flowering plants. There are secluded beaches where I have seen monk seals sunning themselves on the beach. 

There are a number of covered picnic areas along the path that are wonderful places for artists, musicians, and writers to spend the day in semi-isolation overlooking the spectacular coastline. What a place to get your creative juices flowing.

We biked or walked the path almost everyday. There are several bike rentals in Kapa’a along the path.

North Shore

North Shore View: budgetslowtravel.com

You take Highway 56 from the Lihue Airport to the North Shore. The highway ends at Hā’ena State Park about 38 miles from the airport. It takes an hour to drive straight there. There are a number of places to explore along the way including a number of secluded beaches like Secret Beach, that are a bit of a hike to get to.

Along the way you will see wonderful vistas and lush mountains. This is the rainy side of the island. One weekend in April 2018 Kauai received over 24 inches of rain washing out many parts of the highway. A two mile stretch of highway before Hā’ena State Park at the end of the road was closed for 14 months before it reopened.

The road down the hill into Hanalei goes over the one lane Hanalei Bridge, the first of seven one-lane bridges before coming to the end of the road. This bridge was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 2003. 

At busy times there could be 50 vehicles in line waiting to go across the bridge. The one-lane bridges are alternating traffic. Each direction takes turns crossing the bridge. About 5-7 vehicles will cross from one direction and then the flow changes to the other direction. This could add up to an hour to your trip. 

The North Shore is a popular tourist area with a variety of people and visitors. There are very high end properties here along with hostels for backpackers.

Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Kilauea Point Lighthouse: budgetslowtravel.com

Established in 1986 to protect the nesting seabirds and other endangered species. It is a popular stop attracting over 500,000 visitors a year.

The area has the largest colony of nesting seabirds on the Hawaiian Islands. You will see many different species of birds soaring above the ocean. There are thousands of red footed Boobies nesting on the cliffs. In the water you may see spinner dolphins, green sea turtles,  and monk seals. 

There is limited parking that is managed by volunteers who will direct you when you enter the parking area. There are also volunteers by the viewing fence that will gladly give you information on the wildlife that you are viewing.

If you want to visit the lighthouse you must reserve ahead of time and pay a $10 entry fee online here.


Christ Memorial Episcopal Church

A small town with an original stone church and a small commercial area. If you drive around this area on the back roads, you will see some beautiful vistas.

Kalihiwai Beach

Kalihiwai Beach on the North shore of Kauai

This is one of my favourite beaches on the North Shore. Take the Kalihiwai Road on the right just past Kilauea Town. Follow the road as it winds and turns down to the parking area. You have to wade through water from the Puukumu Stream entering the ocean to get to the beach. You can also wade up the stream which is fun. 

Hanalei Valley Lookout

Hanalei Valley lookout over the distant taro fields
Descending down the hill to Hanalei is the lookout. The view is spectacular and is one of the most photographed spots on the island.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay on the North shore of Kauai

Hanalei (Crescent in Hawaiian) Bay has the Hanalei River and the  Waioli Stream draining into it. In ancient time this was an ongoing thriving Hawaiian community. The fertile valley had the ability to grow an abundant amount of food. There was a lot of fishing in the bay and the people built a fish pond to have a steady supply of fish. This allowed the valley to support a large population. 

The area between the rivers and the wetlands were heavily planted in kalo (taro) until the 1800s when the primary crop changed to rice. Rice became the second largest export of Hawaii. The cement pier was built in 1912 to allow ships to dock and load rice to take to market.

Kē'ē Beach at Hā'ena State Park

Kē'ē Beach at Hā'ena State Park

This is the end of the road. Hā’ena State Park is very popular. Kē’ē Beach is the last beach that you can easily access. In the winter the surf can get to 40 feet. This is the beginning of the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. It is the beginning of the trailhead for the famous 11 mile Kalalau Trail that follows the Napali Coast.

You must make reservations here to access the park. You can book up to 14 days in advance or a minimum of 24 hours before visiting. Make sure that you book as early as possible as the spots fill up quickly. 

It is $5 per person for non-Hawaiians to access the park. There are only 100 parking stalls available. Parking is $10 per time slot. There are morning, afternoon and sunset time slots. If you want to spend the entire day it will cost you $30 plus $5 per person access fee.

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

Napali Coast Wilderness Park on Kauai

The Napali Coast Wilderness Park is accessible only through the Hā’ena State Park. There is a lot of information you need to read if you are planning on hiking the difficult Kalalau Trail. You will find all the information you will need to get a camping permit at the State Parks website. There are also two good videos about the Napali Coast to watch.

3. How To Have a Cheap Vacation on Kauai


All you need to do is a little planning to have a cheap vacation in Kauai. We were able to get a six hour direct flight to Lihue International Airport from Vancouver on Westjet. We looked for the cheapest flights in our time period and used our Westjet Dollars and our Companion Fare to get two return flights for $400.

House Rental

I was able to find and rent a beautiful house owned by people from San Diego. They rented the house to us for $1500 for the month. We had some friends join us for a week and our mom and cousin joined us for another ten days. Each party paid their share of the house for those days which dropped our cost to $1100 for the month. With the increase of VRBO listings on the island there are a lot more properties to rent. It can take a while to find that perfect place. Cheap rents are getting more difficult in Kauai although economic crashes make a difference in rental prices. We saw a big drop in rental prices after the 2008 housing market crash that lasted for about 7 years.

Car Rental

We rented a car for the month and split the cost for the seventeen days we had guests.  It is always good to have a car the first week to explore the island and stock up on supplies. Lihue has a Costco just a few minutes from the airport and we stocked up on the essentials for the month filling our car. (If you are a bread eater you will want to load up here as a loaf of bread in the small supermarkets can cost $7.)  We did not really need the car for the entire month. Kauai has good public bus service with a month pass costing $35. There is also Uber for short jaunts.

Free and Low Cost Activities

Most days we spent the morning at the beach and walking on Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path then we would go exploring. Later in the afternoon when you have had enough of touring and you need to sit and relax, there are some great Happy Hours at the resorts that we took advantage a few times. The drink and food prices are half priced and they have live entertainment. We went to several free and low cost local activities including the Kauai Voices concert, a slack guitar concert, numerous hula dances, and local Farmer Markets.

Our biggest activity after going to the beach is sightseeing. Kauai has several distinct areas; the West side, South Shore, Lihue, East Shore and the North Shore. Every area has a number of things to explore. You can easily spend a week touring the island and just seeing the sights. Most of the sightseeing activities we did were free.

Alekoko Menehune Fishpond Lookout just outside of Līhu'e
Alekoko Menehune Fishpond Lookout just outside of Līhu'e

4. When Is The Best Time To Go To Kauai?

The best time to go to Kauai is May, June and September to November. The weather throughout the year is very similar so weather is not a big factor. The day time temperatures range from 68F to 82F. Not too hot and not too cold. The factor that changes are the number of people travelling to the islands. The more people visiting, the more the cost of flights, accommodations, and car rentals. 

Most people from North America and Japan (Hawaii’s two largest tourist groups) like to go to Hawaii when the weather is not great at home and during holiday periods. December to April is busy with people escaping winter back home. Japan has three major holidays in the last two weeks of April so a lot of Japanese come in that time period. The summer months of July and August are the busiest months because school is out and mainlanders travel to Hawaii and the Hawaiian people travel to other islands to visit family and friends. Inter-Island flights on the weekend are expensive and usually full.

This trip we went from mid-January to mid-February and it seemed to be a slower time. I find that is generally the case for most places we travel to in that time period. There is an overall lull in travel immediately after the New Year. People take a break from the December holiday season when they probably travelled. Money is tight during this time after the money spending during the holiday period. Some of the best travel deals are found in the first week after New Years. 

I would go to Kauai anytime of the year that you can get a good deal on flights, accommodations and car rentals. 

going down the wailua river on Kauai is a fun thing to do

5. Is It Safe In Kauai?

Kauai crime rates are over 50% lower than the US average. Violent crimes are over 70% less than the US average. There is very little crime on Kauai. But, like any tourist area, there are crimes of convenience that take place. Do not leave valuables in rental cars or on the beach.

There are sixty beaches on Kauai. Ten of the them have lifeguards. Here is a ocean safety video showing the location of those beaches and important ocean safety information. Respect the ocean, many people have died from turning their back to the ocean and a rogue wave carried them out. Ask the locals if it is safe to swim at any beach. There are strong riptides and currents to watch out for. Ask the lifeguards what hazards you should watch out for on that beach.

There is only one road around about 70% of the island. The top speed limit is 50 mph but much of it is 35 mph. Obey speed limits. No one is in a rush here. Never, ever honk your horn. Do not pull a U turn on the highway. Keep going, there will be a safe place to pull over and turn around. Many people die every year from being struck while making a U turn. Pay attention to your driving. There are always people stopped on the 2 lane highway turning left or there might be a line of cars stopped around a blind corner. You can’t be gawking around or looking at a map or texting. Driving is serious business on narrow windy roads.

Make sure your sun block is reef safe. Make sure you have a sun hat. Do not spend too much time in the direct sun. Especially when you first get to Kauai. Stay hydrated and wear good shoes when hiking and walking on rocks.

Most important – have a safe and meaningful travel experience. Aloha. 

Accommodations in Kauai​

We rented a house in Kapa’a, a small town about 20 minutes East of the Lihue airport up on a green hillside surrounded by lush foliage. Our favourite thing to do was to walk on the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path located at the bottom of our hill. It is a 4.5 mile paved path that follows the ocean along the rugged coast line. We walked it everyday. After our walk I would swim laps in the free public pool in the park by the ocean to cool down. 

The pool is at the edge of a well manicured park and beach right in town. I never saw the park busy the month we were there and it is nice just to throw down a blanket and read a book or have a picnic in the shade of the palm trees. There are several small older resort hotels and a hostel  on the edge of the park overlooking it and the ocean. They look like nice places to stay. This stretch of the coastline is called the Coconut Coast. Thousands of palm trees were planted back in the 1800s. It was the place of the Hawaiian royalty.

Where We Stayed​

green 2 storey house on Kauai

The house we rented was perfect. It was 3 bedrooms, 3 baths on two levels. The upper level had a large house length balcony. The kitchen and sitting room were on one half of the house and the other half of the house was the Master bedroom. Half of that was an open bathroom with soaking tub and large walk-in shower.

The kitchen had a restaurant 6-burner stove and double oven with a massive granite preparation island. The owners are restaurateurs so all the pots, pans, storage containers, cooking utensils and knifes were restaurant quality. It was an awesome place to cook meals.A well laid out kitchen with a big wash up sink and an open view of the ocean. What more could you ask for?

The front wall was two glass garage doors that opened up completely during the day. It is a brilliant design feature. The entire front wall disappears when the doors are automatically retracted. The land past the yard sloped to the Pacific Ocean about a half mile away so we had a wide open view of the ocean. It was a beautiful sight to behold.


Our house was about half a mile up the hill from the ocean. We overlooked Kapa’a Stream where it enters the ocean at Keālia Beach. Next to us was the Chinese cemetery with Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant) in the background. Behind us was Mount Wai’ale’ale, that once was the rainiest spot in the world but has since been surpassed but it is in the top five depending on the year. Wai’ale’ale actually means overflowing. There is so much rain, the mountain overflows with water. Millions of gallons a day overflows the mountain. This created the spectacular Waimea Canyon. 

Kapa’a is a small town of 11,000 with a couple of resorts. The town has two supermarkets, restaurants and a number of boutique shops. There is a weekly Farmers’ Market where you can buy beautiful flowers to brighten up your place and fill the air with their fragrant scent.

Chinese Cemetery Kapa'a : budgetslowtravel.com
Chinese cemetery next to our rental house


We arrived in Lihue at 11 pm and by the time we got our car, it was 12:30 am. We drove the ten miles to the house. Traveling after midnight in the dark is always strange to me. There are no visual landmarks that you can make out. All you see is the highway as you drive into the unknown. We had the address and finding the street was no problem. Finding the house number was a problem. 


The houses on the road are separated by vacant land covered in bushes. The mailboxes do not have the house number on them, the house numbers are not consecutive and the houses are set back off the road with no visible numbers showing. It took us over an hour of driving up and down the road. We were tired and frustrated. 

Made it

Finally I went up to the one house that we had looked at a number of times. We didn’t think it was the house because there was a white Ford F150 pickup in the yard. It was the house and we found out that the truck belonged to the owners that they used when they came to Kauai. We were so relieved. We had arrived at 2:30 am and had been up for over 24 hours. ‘

Kauai house: budgetslowtravel.com

How We Got Our House

We love Hawaii and so we are always up to travelling there. I found the house on Home Exchange but the people, like many, do not do cold so they were not interested in exchanging with us up in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. I asked them if they would consider renting and they agreed. 

We are members  of HomeExchange.com (Check out our place if you would like to do a home exchange to beautiful Fernie in the heart of the Canadian Rockies with one of the best ski hills in the world, a couple of hundred miles of trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing, a world class fishing river right out the door, and much more.) and I am always looking for accommodations in places we love to visit.

We were flexible on the time period. They had a month period from mid-January to mid-February that the house was not being used by their family or friends. The owner was very accommodating and actually dropped the rental price which was so nice of her.

Things Always Change

They had just built the house a few years before and did not rent it out a lot as it was heavily used by their kids and their families. The rent was very reasonable but that has changed. When I checked last year, she had put up the price. We paid $50 a day for the house on a month rental. It is now $250 a day which is still reasonable for Hawaii but now a month is $7500 and that is way out of our budget.

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Kauai is composed of 5 distinct areas with most visitors going to Poipu Beach and Princeville. There are also nice resorts and accommodations to be found in Lihue, Waimea and Kapa’a. The Poipu area is the driest area of the island and you will find the most resort accommodations here.  

If you are planning on travelling to Kauai try Hotwire for your accommodations. We have used them for years and have saved thousands of dollars. They are hotel room aggregators and get the rock bottom prices. But, it is a leap of faith, as you don’t know the name of the property until you book and pay. You select the star rating; 1-5 and the area that you want to stay. Hotwire gives you examples of what you may get but it is a spin of the wheel. We have always been more than happy with every place we stayed that we booked through Hotwire and we have booked dozens of hotel rooms through them. You can also book flights and car rentals through Hotwire. 

If you can not find suitable accommodations through Hotwire then try Hotellook which searches all the online hotel booking sites for the best rates. If you love Booking.com like we do, you can also book a place through the same map.

Hotwire Will Find Your Perfect Accommodation

Hotellook Searches All Booking Sites For The Best Rates

VRBO Places on Kauai

Cheap Flights to Kauai​

Click on the month that you would like to search for cheap flights to Kauai. You can adjust the length of time you are going to visit Kauai. The tool makes it fun to look up flight prices.

Travel Insurance​

World Nomad Insurance 

We never leave home without travel insurance. We want travel insurance from a company that is experienced with local and world travel and gives us the best rates possible. For budget travellers it is important to get the best rates possible and we have found World Nomad Insurance the best in the industry. Click on the blue heading. 

Car Rental​

Auto Europe​

For over 60 years, Auto Europe has been a leader in worldwide car rental services and helped over 10 million travelers find the best options when traveling abroad. Through our long-term relationships with top suppliers like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, National, Budget, Dollar, Buchbinder and Peugeot we offer travelers the best rates at 20,000 pickup locations in over 180 countries worldwide.

The Auto Europe Advantage:

  •     Compare Rental Companies for the Best Rates
  •     Free Cancellation Up to 48 Hours Before Pickup
  •     Best Rate Guarantee
  •     24/7 Service Hotline from Pickup to Dropoff

Personal Tours​

Tours by Locals 

For those of you who prefer personal tours with your own guide, we highly recommend Tours by Locals. There are 5 personal guides offering over 20 different personal tours of Oahu. Click on the link to see the variety of tours and choose the one that best fits your needs or design your own tour.

Resources Sourced for Your Planning

1. Travel Books on Kauai

2. Kauai Information Channel – hours of video and detailed information about Kauai

3. Video of East Coast - The Royal Coconut Coast

4. Flying Over Kauai - stream to your big screen and relax

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