As the fourth-largest island in Hawaii, Kauai offers gorgeous landscapes that range from ocean vistas to impressive canyons. Families, young adults, tourists, vacationers, and couples will all find magical locations to explore when adventuring on Kauai. Natural attractions in Kauai are truly unparalleled.
The island’s natural beauty is so stunning that Kauai has been dubbed the “Garden Island.” It’s the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and lives up to its big sibling status by offering cascading waterfalls, tropical rainforests, and plenty of mountaintops to explore.
Whether you’re looking for a Kauai snorkeling adventure or hiking trails, the natural attractions in Kauai stand ready to deliver. Add some of these natural wonders to your itinerary.
5 Must Explore Natural Attractions in Kauai
Opaekaa Falls is one of many Kauai waterfalls you can visit to take adventurous selfies and enjoy the sights and sounds of water cascading over rock. This particular waterfall is reached via a 2-mile hike on well-trod, well-marked trails. You’ll pass picnic areas and restrooms on the way to the falls for plenty of modern conveniences.
The falls are 151 feet tall and 40 feet wide, creating an impressive viewing experience whether you’ve never seen a waterfall before or you’re an experienced waterfall seeker.
- Location: Wailua, 2 miles up Route 580 after turning off Highway 56; you can find the falls easily by following signage to this popular natural wonder.
- Accessibility + Visiting Hours: Visit during daylight hours; you can see the falls from a distant overlook if hiking the trail is not possible.
Waimea Canyon State Park
Want to see Hawaii’s version of the Grand Canyon? Waimea Canyon State Park overlooks the Waimea Canyon, a lush gash in the island’s landscape. Here, you’ll find numerous hiking trails, a scenic drive, and options for trout fishing during trout season.
Residents of Hawaii can enter for free, while nonresidents pay $5 per person. Children 3 and under are free, and there are additional rates for parking. Families, individuals, and couples interested in camping in the park may find cabins available.
- Location: The state park is located on Highway 550, south of Puu Ka Pele Forest Reserve and north of Waimea.
- Accessibility + Visiting Hours: The park has ADA-accessible facilities and offers activities for many ages and mobility levels. Check the park website before traveling to ensure weather or other factors haven’t caused closings.
Na Pali Coast State Park
One of the best natural attractions on Kauai is the fantasy island coast of Na Pali Coast State Park. Your imagination will turn to Jurassic Park as you survey the rugged cliffs of the Napali coast. The park also offers views of waterfalls and streams and the remains of historic walled terraces.
Nature lovers can choose how they want to view these spectacular sights. Hike your way to adventure or see if you can get a helicopter tour of the amazing area.
- Location: The park is on the island’s northwest side, near Kalalau Beach. Access it and Koke’e State Park via Highway 550.
- Accessibility + Visiting Hours: Visit from 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Entrance and shuttle fees are required, and camping fees range from $25 to $35 per night.
Tourists and families that want the experience of a tropical paradise without the adventure of a state park might opt for a tour at Allerton Botanical Garden. You’ll see many of the trees and plants you’d expect to find at other Kauai attractions, but this guided tour is easily accessible.
Take a short walk through an artistic landscape that includes sculpted gardens and water features. Kids and others may recognize the gardens from their appearance in numerous movies, including Jurassic Park.
- Location: Allerton Garden is on the south shore of the island at 4425 Lawa’i Road, Koloa.
- Accessibility + Visiting Hours: Tours are by appointment online; you can book online, and costs range from $30 to $100+ depending on age and tour type.
Limahuli Garden and Preserve
For those interested in seeing Hawaiian birds, the Limahuli Garden and Preserve may be a great choice. You’ll have a chance to see birds and plants you wouldn’t see anywhere else, and the 0.75-mile trail offers a shorter escape into the tropical paradise of the island than some other adventures offer.
Visitors to Limahuli Gardens can opt for self-guided or guided tours. Walking the area with a docent takes about 2.5 hours, while the average time to walk the gardens yourself is around 1.5 hours.
- Location: This attraction is located on the north shore at 5-8291 Kuhio Highway in Hanalei.
- Accessibility + Visiting Hours: The garden is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The trail has many steps and an elevation gain of 200 feet.
Koloa Landing Resort: Your Gateway to Kauai’s Natural Wonders
One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Kauai is to start your Kauai vacation at Koloa Landing Resort. After a day spent on a Kauai snorkeling tour or exploring Waimea Canyon road, you’ll love returning to the resort’s luxurious amenities.
Hike your way to views of lava rocks and tropical fish, then return to the resort for a scheduled spa treatment or a night of fine dining. Families, couples, and others can relax in rooms that include amenities such as kitchenettes, refrigerators, Wi-Fi, and washers and dryers.