Kauai, Hawaii: A Complete Travel Guide

As the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands geologically, Kauai has had plenty of time to refine its natural beauty. From the deep crevasses of the Na Pali Coast to the eroded layers of the Waimea Canyon to the hidden underwater tunnels, Kauai is a gem like no other place on Earth.

I have lived on the neighboring island of Oahu most of my life. And since Kauai is only a 40 minute flight away, my family and I have made countless trips there over the years.

With each visit to Kauai, I have come to appreciate a different part of the island. During my first visits as a little girl, swimming with my brother on the undulating beaches of the South Shore was the highlight.

Freelance writer and editor Sarah Etinas

Sarah Etinas, author and resident of Oahu.

Sarah Etinas

On more recent trips, hiking has become the focus, as much of this stunning island can only be seen on foot. Towering mountains, rare flowers, hidden petroglyphs, cascading waterfalls and breathtaking ocean views – just about any hike in Kauai will take your breath away.

And at the end of a sporting hike, what could be better than a meal made with love? Hot taro donuts, locally sourced burgers and steaming bowls of saimin are just a few Kauai bites that will hit the spot after a long day of adventures.

I usually share my favorite spots and tips with visitors so they can make the most of what the islands have to offer. In Kauai, you’ll come for the warm weather in paradise – and you’ll stay for the incredible nature, tasty food, incredible culture, and loving community.

Here’s everything you need to know to plan a fantastic trip to Kauai, according to a Hawaiian.

Explore Insider’s guide to visiting Kauai:

A local’s advice on the best options for getting to and around Kauai – air travel, rental cars and public buses

→ The best hotels and places to stay in Kauai, from the resort with waterslides to the surf hut on Airbnb

→ 10 of the best places to eat like a local in Kauai, with everything from fresh seafood to taro fritters

→ Must-do Kauai experiences and adventures: hidden hikes, beaches, snorkeling, and more.

→ What a Hawaiian wants tourists to know before vacationing in Kauai, including the best time of year to visit