10 Things to Do in Kauai Your First Time

Kauai – Things to do in Kauai in December – 10 Best Things to do in Kauai

A few weeks ago, Brandon and I went to Kauai for the first time. Though our primary reason for visiting was for a friend’s wedding, we spent 7 days with our friends exploring the island. If you’re looking to visit Kauai for the first time, here are 10 things you can do in Kauai!

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1. Hike the Na Pali Coast on the Kalalau Trail

Honestly, the Na Pali Coast was easily one of the highlights of my entire trip. Our party of 10 first hiked the 2 miles out to Hanakai’ai Beach. And then we split up into a group of 5 and the rest of us hiked 2 more miles to the Hanakapi’ai waterfall. The Kalalau Trail is 22 miles roundtrip – so your group can definitely keep going if you plan on doing so!

As someone who’s done 3-11 mile long hikes in both the Northwest and Orange County/LA area, I’d say the Na Pali Coast hike is pretty difficult. If you don’t hike often, I’d recommend just hiking to the beach and back for a 4 mile round trip hike. But if you’ve had other hiking experience, hike all the way to the waterfall! We were battling through mud (it’s pretty rainy in Kauai especially in December), crossing rivers, and carefully hiking up rock beds.

The views of the entire hike were incredible. From the beach to the coastline to the waterfall, each stop of the hike was picture perfect. We barely dipped in the waterfall pool because the water was so cold. But I put my feet in for a photo!

Recommendation: If you plan on doing the 8 mile hike, pack two water bottles and some snacks. I would also be parked in the first or second main parking lot before 8am. If you don’t get there early, you might end up walking a mile just to get to the hiking trail.

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2. Get an acai bowl at the Aloha Juice Bar in Hanalei

After we went on the Na Pali Coast hike, we stopped by in Hanalei to find something to eat. We stopped by the cutest smoothie/acai bowl shack!

Recommendation: Pick up an acai bowl and take it to the beach!

3. Lay out on Hanalei Beach (North Shore)

After we grabbed snacks and acai bowls in the Hanalei Shopping center, we headed off to the beach. Our group absolutely loved this crescent shaped beach! We were surprised how shallow the water was and how far we could go into the bay before the water reached our waist/shoulders. Our group had so much fun playing Spike Ball, boogie boarding, and laying out in the fun!

Recommendation: If the parking lots fill up along the beach, I’d recommend just finding street parking and walking.

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4. Grab breakfast at Le Petite (Princeville)

On our first morning in Kauai, the guys went off to golf in Lihue and the girls went to get breakfast before a hike. We decided to stop by the Princeville Center to get breakfast at Le Petit. I grabbed an eggs benedict and a caramel latte. One of my friends got a side of papaya with her breakfast and it was so good!

Recommendation: If you need to grab breakfast in Princeville, Le Petit was a great spot! I wish I had gone back to try their acai bowls.

5. Get shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice Truck (Kapa’a)

On the second to last day, our group was shopping for souvenirs in Kapa’a. After shopping we walked down to the Wailua Shave Ice Truck. Brandon and I both got the Lilikoi Cream and it was refreshing! We grabbed a table in the outdoor courtyard and sat down to eat our desserts.

Recommendation: If you go with a friend, I recommend you two order different things so you can try more flavors! I wish I tried the Lava Flow or the Guava Goodness.

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6. Grab a juice at Kauai Juice Co (Kapa’a)

For refreshing cold press juice, I recommend stopping by Kauai Juice Co. The juices are little pricy ($11/juice) but you do get a big bottle. They also have the cutest pineapple mural on the side of the store!

Recommendation: Pick up a juice and walk to the beach!

7. Get fresh (and the best) Poke Bowls at Fish Express on Kauai (Lihue)

I’m not kidding guys. This was probably the best poke bowl I’ve had in my life. Brandon and I both got 3 scoops of poke – and we got to choose the different types of poke we wanted. We also got to add our own toppings! I added avocado and edamame to my bowl. I also picked up some premade meals for the airplane for Brandon and me.

My photographer Mallory who is a local in Kauai recommended this place to me. And I’m so glad Brandon and I stopped by the airport before we left!

Recommendation: If you’re in Lihue, go to Fish Express! There isn’t any tables inside so you’ll have to take your food to go.

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8. Get brunch at Kountry Style Kitchen Restaurant (Kapa’a)

If you’re looking for a fun breakfast place in rooster/chicken décor, the Kountry Style Kitchen Restaurant is the spot. They served large portions and accommodated our party of 11. I had the loco motion (which was massive) and Brandon had the Kauai benedict. We had to wait about 30-40 min to be seated. But we didn’t mind because they have a coffee shop right next door. A few of us picked up our coffees and walked to the beach.

Recommendation: You may have to wait especially if it’s the weekend and you have a large party. So just grab a coffee next door and hangout until your party is called to be seated.

9. See Kauai on an ATVon a Kipu Ranch Adventure Tour (Lihue)

If you want to learn more about Kauai’s history and drive one of the UTV/4x4s, go on one of the Kipu Ranch Adventures tours! I already wrote and shared a video about our experience. You can read about my review here.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a family or friend activity, I recommend signing up for one of their tours. Our group signed up for the Ultimate Tour from 1:30-5:00pm and we had so much fun!

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10. Experience a Luau in Kauai (Lihue)

I’ve been to Hawaii probably once a year these last 7 years and I’ve never been to a luau. Our group went to Luau Kalamaku in Lihue. I was surprised and relieved to find that the entire venue was covered. We were wandering around the small crafts market before dinner started and it started pouring. We just headed back inside and grabbed a drink at the bar.

The dinner and dessert were pretty good. I was hoping for fresh poke but the chicken and Kailua pork was delicious. The highlight of the entire evening was the performance of course. I loved how the dancers educated through dance about how the early Polynesians sailed on boats to get to Hawaii. I was blown away by the fire dancers! Overall the dancing by both the men and women were incredible.

Recommendation: If you’ve never been to a luau before, I recommend going to one at least once in your life and your visit to Hawaii!

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What do you recommend doing or seeing in Kauai for your first time?

Thank you to Shop Morning Lavender for this beautiful tie satin top! Shop my exact top here: Adaline Champagne Top !

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Thank you for reading!

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Love,

Emma

Photos: Mallory Francks

6 Comments

  1. January 16, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    I was there at the same time! Loved the Kauai Juice Co & Kipu Ranch!

  2. January 16, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    I might be going to Kauai this year so this post was perfect! Love your outfit, super cute!

  3. September 1, 2018 / 1:54 am

    Your blog is just awesome and your self too..Amazing journey was to Kauai….Beautiful places are here…never visit actually…Thanks for sharing!

  4. D
    December 5, 2018 / 11:13 am

    What to do on an island designed for outdoor adventure? Get lunch here! Take selfies, get shaved ice! Take a selfie. Get a polk bowl (eat it quick to have more time for selfies) 😉

  5. January 28, 2019 / 7:52 am

    I’m so happy I found this piece, reminds me of my 2017 honeymoon in Kauai! I love this beautiful Hawaiian island so much, with its people, landscapes, food and waters. My husband even got me diving, we explored together Coral Grotto among other brilliant dive spots.
    Can’t wait to be back there, going to use your article to discover what I missed last time!

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