We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Maui, Hawaii in March 2013. We loved Hawaii so much that we decided to return, but this time to Kauai. Kauai is more laid back and less built-up than Maui.
We went to Kauai over Valentine’s Day week, which made for a very romantic getaway. Using our miles and points made it even better!
Winter Getaway to Kauai – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Using Miles and Points to Get to Kauai
- Part 2 – Only $10 for 2 One-Way United Flights From Austin to Kauai
- Part 3 – Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Part 4 – Grand Hyatt Garden Suite for 87% Off
- Part 5 – 3 Free Nights & a Partial Ocean View Upgrade at the Grand Hyatt Kauai
- Part 6 – Activities in Kauai
- Part 7 – Adopting a Little Girl
- Part 8 – The Many Pools of the Grand Hyatt Kauai and more…
- Part 9 – Southside Eats
- Part 10 – More South Kauai Eats!
- Part 11 – Shave Ice Bigger Than Your Face and More Yummy Meals!
- Part 12 – Flight From Kauai to Austin
- Part 13 – Conclusion and Blog Giveaway
Activities in Kauai
Because it was rainy in Kauai, we used our guidebook to find some sights we could visit in the shelter of our car.
There was also a flood warning, and we noticed a couple of roads were closed due to flooding.
Kauai is divided into 4 regions: east, west, north, and south. Each day, we visited a different part of the island.
East Kauai Sights
We went to see 2 waterfalls on the East Side. Our 1st stop was Opaekaa Falls. These waterfalls drop ~150 feet.
Everywhere you looked, there was natural beauty.
You can see the waterfall from the road. You can’t hike to the top or bottom because they closed the trails after a hiking accident in 2006.
If you visit in the morning, sometimes you can see a rainbow. But it was too overcast this day!
West Kauai Sights
Polihale State Park has 17 miles of sandy coastline, sand dunes that reach over 100 feet high, and tall cliffs. There are also restrooms, showers, and drinking water. However, to get to the park, you have to drive 4 to 5 miles on a bumpy dirt road.
The road can get really muddy and had some huge potholes.
Warning signs were posted in front of the road.
Daraius ignored the warning signs and drove down the road anyway.
It was a very pretty drive, but also very bumpy!
We had to drive through some pretty big mud puddles.
After maneuvering through lots of mud puddles, we finally reached the state park.
It was very scenic with lots of trails.
We got out of our car to walk around.
We only saw 5 other people on our excursion.
Daraius really liked how private the state park was. I didn’t like the wind!
The surrounding countryside was all so green and lush.
There were lots of wild areas and interesting landscapes.
We saw a few campsites, but it was otherwise deserted.
Here’s what our car looked like after it rained!
We went to the Kekaha Beach at around 4:00 pm. It wasn’t too crowded, but the water was cold and the sun was barely out.
The parking lot was nearly empty!
Daraius and I spread out our beach towels and relaxed.
The sand was clean and clear, but the water was too cold for me!
The only restroom facilities were porta-potties.
We drove up to Waimea Canyon, which is located on the west side of the island. It takes ~90 minutes to drive up and back down the canyon, but I would budget about ~3 hours for a leisurely visit. Plan on spending longer if you want to go on the hikes.
Mark Twain referred to Waimea Canyon as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and ~3,600 feet deep.
To get there, take Waimea Canyon Drive from Waimea. Don’t follow the signs. This road is less traveled and has better views.
We stopped several times along the way to take some pictures, and went for a quick 15 minute walk. We read that this route has some of the best hiking in Kauai.
We loved seeing the vibrant green valleys.
Every stop seemed to have a better view!
Seeing the river below made we want to go kayaking or rafting in it.
You can kayak, hike, and raft in the canyon.
A little into our drive, we decided to stop for a walk at the Iliau Nature Loop. We knew where it was because of the cars parked on the side of the road.
There were signs warning folks to stay on marked trails.
Daraius loves going for walks.
We opted for the shorter trail since we wanted to get to the canyon before dark.
Because of the rain, it was cloudy and misty, making it difficult to see the views.
It was still lovely, and we took a lot of pictures.
It was fun to explore the area.
We imagine this spot would have had some great views, but that gives us another reason to return to Kauai!
Our next stop was the Waimea Canyon Lookout.
The canyon was gorgeous, with deep reds, greens, and browns.
It really did remind us of the Grand Canyon!
In some ways, it was even more spectacular. I think the rich colors really made it look full of life.
There was a small river flowing through the canyon.
We could see Waipoo Falls in the distance.
Up next we saw another canyon viewpoint.
It was almost a sensory overload.
The chickens were thinking of going home with us.
We stopped and picked up some local snacks.
This area is known as 1 of the wettest spots on Earth, and I can see why!
I sat in the car and Daraius went exploring. A little rain couldn’t stop him.
Kauai can be very wet and rainy, but there are still lots of things to do. We saw amazing waterfalls, valleys, and canyons.
Visiting Waimea Canyon is a must. It truly is like the Grand Canyon of the Pacific!
Daraius enjoyed the adventure of driving rough roads to Polihale State Park. If we had to do it again, we’d rent a car with 4-wheel drive!
All that driving around and hiking really worked up our appetites. Stay tuned for some food reviews!