Discover the Hidden Gems of Kauai’s West Side. The West Side of Kauai is a treasure trove of hidden gems that are just waiting to be explored. From the remote and uninhabited Forbidden Island, to the charming Plantation Cottages, to the talented local artists who call this area home, there is something for everyone on Kauai’s West Side.
Forbidden Island is a mysterious and legendary place that has captured the imaginations of people for generations. This uninhabited island is shrouded in mystery and legend, and it is said to have been visited by Hawaiian gods in ancient times. Today, visitors can take a boat tour around the island or even try their hand at snorkeling or diving in its crystal-clear waters.
The Plantation Cottages are another must-see attraction on Kauai’s West Side. These charming cottages were once home to sugar plantation workers, but today they serve as vacation rentals for visitors looking for a unique and authentic Hawaiian experience. Each cottage has its own unique charm and character, with many featuring original details like hardwood floors and vintage furnishings.
For art lovers, the West Side is a haven of creativity and talent. The area is home to many talented local artists who showcase their work in galleries and shops throughout the region. Visitors can browse paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and other handmade items that capture the beauty and spirit of Hawaii.
One of the most appealing aspects of Kauai’s West Side is its small town charm. The towns of Waimea, Hanapepe, and Kekaha offer a glimpse into old Hawaii with their historic buildings and laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can stroll along Main Street in Hanapepe or explore Waimea Canyon State Park for breathtaking views of red dirt cliffs and lush green valleys.
History buffs will appreciate Fort Elizabeth and Russian Fort on Kauai’s West Side. These historic forts provide a glimpse into Kauai’s past and offer stunning views of the surrounding area. Fort Elizabeth was built by Russian explorers in the early 19th century, while Russian Fort was constructed by Hawaiian king Kaumualii to protect his kingdom from foreign invaders.
The West Side of Kauai is also home to some of the island’s most unique natural features, including the Menehune Ditch and the Olokele Swamp. The Menehune Ditch is an ancient irrigation system that was built by Hawaiian menehune (mythical
Where to Stay in West Kauai: A Guide to Waimea Accommodations
Waimea town is a great place to stay for visitors who want to explore the west side of Kauai. With its range of accommodations, from hotels to vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts, Waimea has something for everyone. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best places to stay in Waimea.
Waimea Plantation Cottages
One of the most unique accommodations in Waimea is the Waimea Plantation Cottages. These historic plantation-style homes have been restored and turned into vacation rentals that offer guests a glimpse into Hawaii’s past. Each cottage is decorated with period furnishings and has its own kitchen, living room, and outdoor lanai. The cottages are situated on a lush 27-acre property that overlooks the Waimea River and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Waimea Canyon Lookout
Just a short drive from Waimea town is the Waimea Canyon lookout. Known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this canyon offers some of the most breathtaking views on Kauai. Visitors can hike along one of several trails or simply take in the view from one of several lookout points. Accommodations near Waimea Canyon include hotels and vacation rentals.
For those looking to enjoy outdoor activities like fishing and boating, Waimea Landing is a popular spot. There are several accommodations nearby that cater to visitors who want to spend their days on or near the water. Some options include vacation rentals with private docks or beach access, as well as hotels that offer equipment rental services.
Top 5 Things to Do in West Kauai: Beaches, Hikes, and Sights You Can’t Miss
Visit Polihale State Park for its stunning beach and sunset views.
Polihale State Park is a must-visit destination in West Kauai. This remote park boasts a stunning 17-mile stretch of white sand beach that offers breathtaking views of the ocean and sunsets. It’s the perfect place to relax, soak up some sun, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The park is also home to ancient Hawaiian heiau (temples), which are considered sacred sites by locals. Visitors can explore these cultural landmarks while taking in the park’s natural beauty. Polihale State Park is an excellent spot for camping, with campsites located just steps away from the beach.
Hike the Awaawapuhi Trail for panoramic views of the Na Pali Coast.
For those seeking adventure and stunning vistas, hiking the Awaawapuhi Trail is a must-do activity in West Kauai. The trail is approximately six miles round trip and takes hikers through lush forests before opening up to panoramic views of the Na Pali Coast.
The trail leads to an overlook that provides breathtaking views of Kalalau Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, hikers will encounter unique plant species and may even spot native birds such as nene (Hawaiian geese). It’s important to note that this trail can be challenging due to steep inclines and rocky terrain, so it’s best suited for experienced hikers.
Explore Waimea Canyon State Park, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.
Waimea Canyon State Park is often referred to as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific” due to its striking red rock formations and deep gorges. The canyon stretches over ten miles long and is over 3,000 feet deep at some points. Visitors can take in panoramic views from various lookout points throughout the park or hike one of several trails that lead through the canyon.
The park is also home to a variety of plant and animal species, including native birds such as the apapane and iwi. Visitors can learn about the area’s history at the Kokee Museum, which features exhibits on Hawaiian culture and natural history.
Take a boat tour to see the sea cliffs and waterfalls along the Na Pali Coast.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of West Kauai is by taking a boat tour along the Na Pali Coast. These tours offer breathtaking views of towering sea cliffs, hidden beaches, and cascading waterfalls. Visitors can also spot marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles, and even humpback whales during their excursion.
There are several different tour options available, ranging from catamaran cruises to zodiac raft adventures. Each provides a unique perspective on this stunning coastline. It’s important to note that ocean conditions can be unpredictable, so it’s best to book with an experienced operator who prioritizes safety.
Visit the historic town of Hanapepe for its art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
For those looking for a more laid-back activity in West Kauai, visiting the historic town of Hanapepe is a great option. This charming town boasts art galleries featuring local artists’ work and unique shops selling everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing.
Visitors can also indulge in delicious food at one of Hanapepe’s many restaurants or cafes. The town is known for its farm-to-table cuisine that incorporates fresh local ingredients into every dish. Hanapepe hosts weekly art nights where visitors can meet local artists while enjoying live music and entertainment.
Exploring the Best of Kauai’s West Side: A Comprehensive Travel Guide for Visitors
Kauai’s West Side: A Comprehensive Travel Guide for Visitors
Kauai’s West Side is a gateway to the whole family, offering visitors a chance to explore the region’s natural beauty and rich history. Here are some must-see places and experiences that you should add to your itinerary:
Kauai Visitor Center
Start your journey at the Kauai Visitor Center, where you can get directions and information about the best places to visit in the area. The center offers free maps, brochures, and other helpful resources that will make your trip more enjoyable. The staff members are knowledgeable about the island and can help you plan your itinerary based on your interests.
Captain Cook’s Landing Site
History buffs should not miss Captain Cook’s landing site, which marks the spot where the famous explorer first set foot on Kauai’s shores. The site is located in Waimea Town, which was once a bustling port for whaling ships and sugar plantations. You can take a self-guided tour of the area or join a guided tour to learn more about its history.
Scenic Drive along Kauai’s West Side
Locals recommend taking a scenic drive along Kauai’s West Side to experience breathtaking views of the land and homes that make up this beautiful region. You’ll see stunning vistas of Waimea Canyon, known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” as well as miles of unspoiled coastline with crystal-clear waters. Make sure to stop at lookout points along the way for photo opportunities.
Mark Twain’s Endorsement
Mark Twain once described Kauai’s West Side as “the grandest view of sea and mountains” he had ever seen, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking stunning natural vistas. Whether you’re an avid hiker or prefer leisurely strolls, there are plenty of trails that offer panoramic views of the island’s rugged terrain. You can also take a helicopter tour for a bird’s eye view of the island.
Make the Most of Your Trip to Kauai’s West Side: Insider Tips and Recommendations
Check the Weather Forecast Before Heading to the West Side
Before embarking on your journey to Kauai’s west side, it is important to check the weather forecast. Due to its location, the west side tends to receive more rainfall than other parts of the island. However, with proper planning and preparation, you can still have a pleasant and safe trip.
One popular attraction on the west side is Waimea Canyon, also known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The views from Pu’u Hinahina lookout are simply breathtaking. However, if there has been heavy rainfall in the area, it may be best to postpone your visit until conditions improve. The trails can become muddy and slippery, making them dangerous for hikers.
Explore Port Allen
Port Allen is a bustling harbor town located on Kauai’s west side. It offers various water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunset cruises. If you’re looking for an adventure-packed day on the water, this is definitely a spot worth checking out.
For those interested in snorkeling or scuba diving, there are numerous tour operators that offer trips to nearby locations such as Niihau Island or Lehua Rock. These areas boast some of Hawaii’s most pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life.
If you’re looking for something more relaxing, consider taking a sunset cruise along Kauai’s Na Pali Coastline. As you sail along the coast, you’ll witness stunning views of towering sea cliffs and cascading waterfalls.
Cook Your Own Meals Using Fresh Local Ingredients
One way to experience authentic Hawaiian cuisine is by cooking your own meals using fresh local ingredients. The West Kauai Farmer’s Market is held every Tuesday at Hanapepe Park and every Friday at Waimea Canyon Park. Here you’ll find an abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as freshly caught seafood.
Take advantage of these markets and create your own farm-to-table meal. Not only will you be supporting local farmers and fishermen, but you’ll also be able to taste the true flavors of Kauai.
Watch the Sunset at Polihale Beach
Polihale Beach is one of the most secluded and picturesque beaches on Kauai. Located on the west side, this beach offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is a great spot to watch the sunset.
It’s important to note that getting to Polihale Beach requires driving down a long dirt road. It can be bumpy and rough, so it’s recommended to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. However, once you arrive at the beach, you’ll quickly realize that it was well worth the journey.
Rest and Rejuvenate at One of Many Luxurious Resorts and Spas
If relaxation is what you’re after, then look no further than Kauai’s west side. There are numerous luxurious resorts and spas located in this area that offer top-notch amenities such as infinity pools, oceanfront views, and world-class spa treatments.
For example, The Lodge at Kukui’ula offers guests an exclusive experience with access to a private golf course, farm-to-table dining options, and a full-service spa. Alternatively, The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa boasts multiple swimming pools with waterfalls and slides as well as its own saltwater lagoon for snorkeling.
Use Guidebooks or Local Recommendations
While there are plenty of well-known attractions on Kauai’s west side, there are also many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Use guidebooks or local recommendations to find off-the-beaten-path attractions that suit your interests.
For example, if you’re interested in history or culture, consider visiting Hanapepe Town which has been dubbed “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town.” Here you’ll find art galleries featuring local artists as well as historic buildings dating back to the 1800s.
Beach-Hopping on Kauai’s West Side: Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Spots
Kekaha Beach: A Surfer’s Paradise
If you’re looking for a beach with big waves and plenty of surfers, Kekaha Beach is the place to go. Located on the west side of Kauai, this long stretch of sand is known for its consistent waves and beautiful sunsets. While it may not be the best spot for swimming or snorkeling due to strong currents, it’s perfect for surfing and sunbathing.
The beach has plenty of parking and restrooms, making it a convenient spot to spend the day. If you’re not an experienced surfer, there are several surf schools in the area that offer lessons. You can also rent boards from local shops if you don’t have your own.
Na Pali Coast: Secluded Beaches and Stunning Views
The Na Pali Coast is one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii, and it’s only accessible by boat or hiking. The coastline stretches for 17 miles along Kauai’s north shore, offering breathtaking views of towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters.
There are several secluded beaches along the Na Pali Coast that are worth exploring. Hanakapiai Beach is a popular spot for hikers who make their way along the Kalalau Trail. Kee Beach offers calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
If you want to explore more of the coastline, taking a boat tour is highly recommended. You’ll get up close to sea caves, waterfalls, and even pods of dolphins if you’re lucky!
Polihale Beach: Remote Beauty at Its Finest
Located at the end of a dirt road on Kauai’s west side lies Polihale Beach – a remote paradise with miles of white sand stretching out before you. This beach is not easily accessible by car (a four-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary), but once you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered your own private oasis.
Polihale Beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and stargazing. There are no facilities or lifeguards on duty, so it’s important to come prepared with plenty of water and snacks.
Salt Pond Beach Park: Family-Friendly Fun
If you’re traveling with kids or just want a more family-friendly beach experience, Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe is a great option. The beach has calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling, as well as picnic areas and restrooms.
One unique feature of Salt Pond Beach Park is the salt ponds located nearby. These shallow pools have been used for centuries to harvest salt, and they still produce salt today. You can take a walk around the ponds and learn about their history while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Hiking in West Kauai: Trails and Routes for All Levels of Experience
Kokee State Park: A Hiker’s Paradise
Kokee State Park is a haven for hikers, with its vast network of trails catering to all levels of experience. The Alakai Swamp Trail, in particular, is a must-do hike that leads to stunning views of the Kalalau Valley and Na Pali Coast. This trail is an 8-mile round trip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. It takes you through lush forests and across boardwalks over wetlands before reaching the lookout point at the end. The view from here is simply breathtaking! For those looking for a shorter hike, try the Awaawapuhi Trail which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Nualolo Valley.
The Kokee Lodge located within the park provides maps and information on various trails available in the area. They also have guided hikes available if you prefer to explore with a group or want to learn more about the flora and fauna found in this area.
Polihale State Park: For Adventure Seekers
Polihale State Park boasts one of Hawaii’s longest beaches stretching over 17 miles long. But beyond its beach lies another adventure – hiking to the top of Polihale Canyon. This challenging hike offers stunning views from above and is perfect for those seeking a more strenuous experience.
The trailhead starts at Polihale Beach where you will follow a dirt road leading up towards the canyon. The trail itself is steep with loose rocks making it difficult to navigate at times but once you reach the top, it’s all worth it! You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views overlooking both sides of Kauai Island.
Waimea Canyon: “Grand Canyon Of The Pacific”
Eleele located on Kauai’s west side is home to Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. This geological wonder is over 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and over 3,000 feet deep. The canyon offers breathtaking views and hiking opportunities for all skill levels.
For those looking for an easy hike, try the Waimea Canyon Trail which is a 3.4-mile round trip with an elevation gain of 800 feet. This trail takes you through forests and meadows before reaching a lookout point overlooking the canyon. For more experienced hikers, try the Kukui Trail which is a strenuous 5.5-mile round trip with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet.
Sightseeing in West Kauai: Must-See Destinations and Hidden Gems
Kalalau Lookout: A Must-Visit Spot for Amazing Views of the Na Pali Coast and the Kalalau Valley
If you’re looking for breathtaking views of Kauai’s natural beauty, the Kalalau Lookout is a must-visit destination. Located in Kokee State Park, this lookout offers panoramic views of the Na Pali Coast and the Kalalau Valley. The winding road to get there is an adventure in itself, with stunning scenery around every turn.
Once you arrive at the lookout, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas that are truly awe-inspiring. From here, you can see all the way down to the valley floor below and out to sea beyond. It’s a great spot for taking photos or just soaking up the incredible scenery.
For those who are feeling adventurous, there are hiking trails that lead down into the valley below. These trails offer an up-close look at Kauai’s rugged terrain and provide even more opportunities for stunning photos.
Scenic Vistas: Take a Drive Along Waimea Canyon Drive to Witness Natural Wonders like Waimea Canyon and Pu’u Hinahina Lookout
Waimea Canyon Drive is another must-do activity on Kauai’s west side. This scenic drive takes you through some of the island’s most beautiful landscapes, including Waimea Canyon and Pu’u Hinahina Lookout.
Waimea Canyon is often called “The Grand Canyon of Hawaii” because of its striking red rock formations and deep gorges. The canyon stretches for miles, offering plenty of opportunities for hiking or just enjoying the view from one of several lookout points along the road.
Pu’u Hinahina Lookout is another highlight along Waimea Canyon Drive. From here, you can see sweeping views over Waimea Canyon as well as out to sea beyond. It’s a great spot for watching sunsets or just taking in the stunning scenery.
Art Galleries: Visit the Hanapepe Art Night on Fridays to Explore Local Art Galleries and Enjoy Live Music and Food Trucks
If you’re looking for a more cultural experience, consider visiting Hanapepe Art Night on Fridays. This weekly event takes place in the charming town of Hanapepe and features local art galleries, live music, food trucks, and more.
Hanapepe is known as Kauai’s “biggest little town,” and it’s easy to see why. The town is filled with colorful buildings and has a laid-back vibe that makes it a great place to spend an evening.
During Hanapepe Art Night, you can browse through dozens of art galleries showcasing everything from paintings to jewelry to pottery. You’ll also find plenty of food trucks serving up delicious Hawaiian cuisine, as well as live music performances throughout the night.
Museum: Learn about Kauai’s History and Culture at the Kauai Museum in Lihue
For those who want to learn more about Kauai’s rich history and culture, a visit to the Kauai Museum in Lihue is a must-do activity. This museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Kauai’s past, from its ancient Hawaiian roots to its modern-day culture.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of ancient Hawaiian artifacts, including tools, weapons, clothing, and more. You’ll also find exhibits that explore Kauai’s plantation era, which had a major impact on the island’s economy and way of life.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year that showcase different aspects of Kauai’s history and culture. It’s a great way to gain a deeper understanding of this beautiful island paradise.
Adventure Activities on Kauai’s West Side: From Ziplining to ATV Tours
West Side Adventure: Ziplining and ATV Tours
If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure on Kauai’s west side, look no further than ziplining and ATV tours. These activities are perfect for those who want to experience the island’s natural beauty while getting their adrenaline pumping.
Zipline tours take you high above the trees, giving you a bird’s eye view of the lush forests and valleys below. You’ll soar through the air on cables that stretch hundreds of feet, feeling the wind rush past your face as you take in some of Kauai’s most stunning scenery.
ATV tours allow you to explore the island’s rugged terrain in style. You’ll ride through dirt paths and rocky trails, navigating challenging obstacles along the way. With experienced guides leading the way, you can rest assured that your safety is always a top priority.
Take a Boat Tour to Explore Kauai’s Stunning Coastline
For a more relaxed adventure on Kauai’s west side, consider taking a boat tour to explore its stunning coastline. From sea caves to hidden beaches, there is so much to see and discover along this picturesque stretch of shoreline.
During your boat tour, keep an eye out for marine life such as dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. You may even be lucky enough to spot some humpback whales during their annual migration from Alaska.
Tours of Historic Kauai Coffee Plantation
If you’re interested in learning about Kauai’s rich agricultural history, be sure to check out tours of the historic Kauai Coffee Plantation. This working coffee farm has been producing some of Hawaii’s best coffee since 1987.
During your tour, you’ll learn about how coffee is grown and harvested before being roasted into delicious blends that are sold all over Hawaii and beyond. Of course, no visit would be complete without sampling some of their signature brews!
Explore Hanapepe: Scenic Road and Swinging Bridge
One of the most scenic drives on Kauai’s west side is the road to Hanapepe. This charming town is home to art galleries, shops, and restaurants that are perfect for a day of exploring.
Be sure to cross the iconic swinging bridge that spans the Hanapepe River. This pedestrian-only bridge is a local landmark that has been featured in several films and TV shows.
Fun Events and Art Shops in Hanapepe
In addition to its scenic beauty, Hanapepe also hosts several fun events throughout the year. From Friday Night Art Walks to its annual Storybook Festival, there is always something happening in this vibrant town.
Art lovers will appreciate the many galleries and shops that line Hanapepe’s main street. You’ll find everything from paintings and sculptures to jewelry and pottery, all created by talented local artists.
Why Kauai’s West Side Should Be Your Next Vacation Destination
Stunning Natural Landscapes: Waimea Canyon
Kauai’s west side is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes on the island, including Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” This impressive canyon spans over 14 miles long and one mile wide, with depths reaching up to 3,600 feet. Visitors can take in panoramic views of the canyon from several lookout points along Highway 550. For those looking for a more adventurous experience, hiking trails are available throughout the canyon.
Laid-Back and Authentic Experience
If you’re looking for a more laid-back and authentic vacation experience compared to the tourist-heavy areas on Kauai’s east side, then look no further than the west side. Here you’ll find charming towns like Hanapepe and Waimea that offer a glimpse into Hawaii’s rich history and culture. Take a stroll through Hanapepe’s historic district, where you’ll find art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants serving up local cuisine. Or head to Waimea Town to explore its plantation-era architecture and learn about Kauai’s sugar cane industry at the West Kauai Technology & Visitor Center.
Best Beaches in Hawaii: Polihale State Park and Hanalei Bay
Northwest Kauai boasts some of the best beaches in Hawaii, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers. Polihale State Park is a secluded beach that stretches for miles along Kauai’s western shore. With its soft white sand dunes and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder why this beach is often referred to as “Bali Hai.” Meanwhile, Hanalei Bay offers a picturesque setting with its crescent-shaped shoreline surrounded by lush green mountains. This beach is perfect for swimming, paddleboarding or simply lounging on the sand.
Vacation Rentals Options
Whether you’re traveling solo or planning a family vacation, Kauai’s west side offers a range of vacation rental options to fit your needs and budget. From cozy cottages to luxurious villas, you’ll find plenty of accommodations that will make you feel right at home. Vacation rentals offer the flexibility to cook your own meals and have more space than a traditional hotel room.
Something for Everyone: Hiking and Surfing
Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, the west side of Kauai has something for everyone. Hikers can explore Waimea Canyon or take on the challenging Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast. Meanwhile, surfers can catch some waves at Polihale State Park or Hanalei Bay. Even if you’re not an experienced surfer, there are plenty of surf schools in the area that offer lessons for all levels.
Conclusion: Why Kauai West Side Should Be Your Next Destination
In conclusion, Kauai’s West Side is a destination that should be at the top of your travel list. With its stunning beaches, breathtaking hikes, and endless adventure activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, Kauai’s West Side has it all. From the beautiful Waimea Canyon to the picturesque beaches of Polihale State Park, you will find yourself surrounded by natural beauty at every turn.
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, the trails in Koke’e State Park offer some of the most spectacular views on the island. And if you’re looking for an adventure activity, ziplining and ATV tours are just a few of the options available to get your heart racing.
One thing that sets Kauai’s West Side apart from other destinations is its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural significance. The area is home to several historic sites that offer insight into Hawaii’s rich history and culture.
But perhaps what makes Kauai’s West Side truly special is its sense of community. The locals are warm and welcoming, always willing to share their knowledge and love for their home with visitors.
So why should Kauai’s West Side be your next vacation destination? Because it offers an experience unlike any other. It combines natural beauty with cultural significance and a sense of community that will make you feel right at home.
Don’t just take our word for it – come see for yourself why Kauai’s West Side is a must-visit destination. We guarantee you won’t regret it!
Looking to explore the beautiful landscapes of Kauai? Learn about the distinctive features, unique attractions, and culture of each area with our comprehensive guide on Kauai Regions. Plan your trip now and make the most of your visit to this paradise.