Welcome fellow Kauai enthusiasts!
You and I both know that the magical island of Kauai is a must-visit for anyone looking for an unforgettable vacation. As someone who has been exploring this tropical paradise with my boyfriend for years, I can assure you that booking the right tours makes all the difference in turning your trip into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Now, I get it – planning and organizing tours ahead of time can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re worried about missing out on those breathtaking spots you’ve heard so much about. But don’t worry! That’s where I come in. Through years of trial and error (and hours spent researching), I’ve put together a list of the absolute best tours to make sure your Kauai adventure is nothing short of spectacular.
So whether you’re an adrenaline junkie seeking thrilling escapades or simply want to unwind amidst nature’s wonders, there’s something here just for you. And as someone who loves sharing laughs along the way, let me tell ya: these tours are not only amazing but also filled with unexpected moments that’ll have us chuckling long after we’ve returned home.
Warning: After experiencing these mind-blowing Kauai adventures, be prepared to fall head over heels in love with this enchanting island – just like my boyfriend and me!
Alright folks, let’s dive right into discovering what makes each tour on this curated list truly special!
Luau Kalamaku with Buffet Dinner
Few things provide an authentic Hawaiian experience more than a luau, and you can find an award-winning one at the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai. The Luau Kalamaku is an incredible display of hula dances, fire shows, and Polynesian storytelling, followed by a delicious buffet dinner.
In addition, guests can upgrade their experience by taking a ride around the 104-acre estate on the Kauai Plantation Railway and enjoying fun pre-show activities. You’ll also see a torch-lighting ceremony followed by a whole Kalua pig being removed from an underground clay oven (imu) before dinner.
For the main show, head to the Luau Pavillion and watch an epic performance displaying the sea voyage between Tahiti and Hawaii. We were in awe of the tricks put on by flame twirlers, the beautiful Polynesian dances, and the heart-thumping live music which stole the show.
My boyfriend and I had the most fun on this exotic luau and enjoyed the performances immensely. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- Dinner is a delicious meal of Lomi Lomi salmon, teriyaki chicken, fresh Mahi Mahi, and an open bar serving drinks all night.
- There’s a craft fair on the event grounds featuring local Kauai artisans,
- You can meet and take pictures with the cast after the performance ends.
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
Exploring Kauai by land and water can take days, so enjoy aerial views of the island with a helicopter tour designed for sightseeing. You’ll spend 60-70 minutes in the air soaring over parts of Kauai unreachable by foot, soaking up breathtaking views of the Waimea Canyon, Opaekaa Falls, Na Pali coast, and Mt Waialeale.
You’ll board the GA8 Airvan from the Lihue Airport for this tour, with large bubble windows ideal for sightseeing and a spacious cabin accommodating six passengers.
Once in the air, you’ll be soaring over stunning sights like the Waimea Falls and Canyon, Captain Cook’s landing, Hanalei Bay and Mahaulepu Beach, the Menehune fish pond, Wailua Falls, and Hanakapiai Falls on the Na Pali coast, to name a few.
We had an amazing time on the aerial ride and enjoyed the narrations about Kauai from our pilot. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- The two-way noise-reducing headphones ensure you can hear your pilot and travel without excessive sounds.
- The pilot has more than twenty years of flying experience in Kauai and doesn’t miss flying over a single spot on Kauai.
- The tour is great for families with children.
Na Pali Sunset and Sightseeing Boat Tour
Get stunning close-ups of the breathtaking Na Pali coast from this sunset tour aboard a catamaran, which sails past seventeen miles of the coast’s sea arches and hidden caves. You’ll enjoy 3.5 hours on this tour with sightseeing, commentary from the terrific boat crew, and a delicious dinner on the catamaran’s spacious deck.
You’ll board the cruise from the Port Allen Marina Center and set off on the journey, which sails past 4000-foot cliffs, steep cathedral spires, emerald valleys, waterfalls, and picture-perfect beaches. You’re likely to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles, dolphins, and even whales during the winter, so bring your camera and snap some memorable shots.
We were especially awed by the golden sunset lighting up the shore and loved the delicious al fresco dinner made from local produce.
My boyfriend and I can never get enough of the Na Pali coast, and this boat tour was an incredible way to explore it. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- The crew narrates mesmerizing legends and tales of the Na Pali coast.
- The staff prepares meals according to your dietary restrictions.
- The captain sets your itinerary according to the weather so you won’t miss any sights.
Ni’ihau and Na Pali Snorkel Boat Tour
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of snorkeling with Hawaii’s native marine life on the gorgeous Na Pali coast, the ‘Forbidden Island’ of Ni’ihau, and in the remote waters of Lehua Crater on this boat tour. The trip takes place on a spacious 65-foot catamaran that sails to unexplored shores beyond Kauai and allows swimming alongside rare marine wildlife.
The snorkeling conditions around Ni’ihau and Lehua are some of the clearest in the world, so you’ll spot elusive ocean species such as pilot whales and rough-toothed dolphins. In addition, spinner dolphins, green sea turtles, and humpback whales which frequent the waters of Kauai will be visible throughout the tour as you snorkel along reefs and the wildlife.
We loved seeing the sea life in Kauai up close and enjoyed learning about their history, plus legends and stories of Ni’ihau from the crew.
So make sure you try this snorkeling adventure, which is one of the best tours in Kauai.
- Breakfast, lunch, and all-day beverages are included in the tour.
- You’ll also spot manta rays and the occasional Hawaiian monk seal from the snorkel sites.
- The tour provides snorkeling equipment and detailed instructions.
Koloa Zipline Tour
Soar above the stunning landscape of Kauai’s South shore from the Koloa Zipline tour, which is also the longest zipline on the island. On the tour, you’ll be riding an eight-line course with ziplines ranging from 200 to 2600 feet over Koloa’s rainforest canopies and lush landscape.
Riders get equipped with zipline gear and start their journey from the lowest line, which steadily increases in length and speed as they move. In addition, you can try moves like Superman, flying upside down, or acrobatic stunts from the course’s hands-free Flyin Kauaian harness.
During the three-hour trip, we were introduced to incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and the calm water body of the Waita Reservoir, especially from the highest zipline.
My boyfriend and I had enjoyed the thrill of the high-speed ziplines, and we consider it a real bucket-list venture. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- After ziplining, you can enjoy complimentary snacks under eucalyptus trees.
- The tour is great for beginners and people with no experience.
- The guides are terrific, and make sure you get the hang of ziplining (get it?)
Wailua River and Secret Falls Kayak and Hike Tour
Leave the luxury cruises behind for a hands-on kayaking tour on Kauai’s stunning Wailua River, followed by a hike to the Secret Falls. You’ll receive a paddling lesson before the tour and be accompanied by experienced guides. However, you’ll need to be moderately fit for the trip as it lasts 5 hours with rowing and an easy hike.
After boarding the kayaks, you’ll row with your partner on the stunning blue waters of the Wailua River Valley, following waterways through the lush Kauai landscape. Next, you’ll park your kayaks and take a 45-minute hike to Secret Falls, where you can cool off in its freshwater pool, before returning the same way you came to the Wailua marina.
My boyfriend and I had a fantastic time kayaking and navigating the Wailua River with our guide. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- You’ll learn about local wildlife and legends of the land on the trip.
- The tour provides all equipment needed for kayaking and the hike.
- The guide points out historical points of interest and shares fun facts along the way.
Princeville Botanical Gardens and Chocolate Tasting Tour
Spend a day among the natural beauty of the Garden Isle at the Princeville Botanical Gardens, and see chocolates made from cacao beans worldwide on this immersive tour. You’ll also sample fresh Hawaiian fruit, honey, and locally-produced chocolates while learning about their production process.
Guests will spend nearly three hours learning about the plant species that grow at different elevations on the island while touring the garden’s terraces, creek beds, and valley floor. Afterward, there’s a short rest in a shady outdoor area as you sample single-origin gourmet chocolates from around the world.
In addition, you’ll tour the Anini Creek valley, another wonderland of rare plants, stunning topography, and fascinating sustainable cultivation practices.
My boyfriend and I had an amazing time on this informative and fun trip to Princeville Botanical Gardens. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Kauai:
- You’ll sample five chocolate flavors and learn about historical chocolate processing methods.
- You’ll see plants and flowers native to Kauai in the beautiful gardens.
- The tour guides are terrific and answer all your questions about the gardens.
Full-Day Kauai Tour with Fern Grotto River Cruise
Experience the beauty of Kauai’s East and North shores on this full-day tour, including a cruise on the Wailua River towards the Fern Grotto. In addition, you’ll see the island’s best beaches, waterfalls, and stunning mountainscape and enjoy a traditional Hawaiian performance inside the Grotto.
The tour includes pickups from your accommodations and drives around the North and East shore’s best sights, like the Kilauea Lighthouse, the Sleeping Giant, and Hanalei taro fields, seen from the bus’ large viewing windows. Next, you’ll continue the journey towards the Grotto aboard a spacious open-air riverboat on the Wailua River.
At the Fern Grotto, take a short walk through the rainforest to one of Kauai’s natural wonders, where ferns grow upside down in an arena of lava rock. Here, you’ll get serenaded by Hawaiian musicians and entertained by hula dancers.
We were captivated throughout the journey and constantly awed by Kauai’s natural beauty, and so will you be after taking the trip. Here’s why it’s the best tour in Kauai:
- You’ll see the island’s sugarcane fields and old plantations on the trip.
- The expert tour guide shares the history and culture of the various sites you pass.
- The crew on the boat keeps you entertained throughout the journey.
What should you not miss in Kauai?
Although Kauai is filled with many incredible places, a few you shouldn’t miss are the Na Pali coast (accessible through boat tours), the Waimea Canyon, the Wailua River, and Hanalei Bay.
What is the number one thing to do in Kauai?
Touring the Na Pali Coast is the first thing you should do in Kauai, as this seventeen-mile stretch of shore is filled with natural wonders like sea cliffs and hidden caves. In addition, snorkeling here guarantees sighting turtles, dolphins, and even whales.
How many days do you need for Kauai?
You should ideally spend a week to ten days in Kauai to fully explore its shores and sights. This timeline helps you plan full and half-day trips, spend lazy days on the beach, have a day to unwind from traveling, and plan some tours.
Winding Up The Best Tours in Kauai
Whether it’s your first time visiting Kauai or you’re a regular, taking one of the tours mentioned in this article will be the highlight of your trip. That’s because the best tours in Kauai cover the island’s most beautiful landmarks, such as the Na Pali coast, Princeville’s stunning gardens, and the Wailua River, to name a few.
We’ve curated this list from multiple visits to Kauai and can guarantee each tour is better than the last, so close your eyes and pick one, and we promise you won’t be disappointed!
Looking for the best family tours in Kauai? Try the Luau Kalamaku at the Kilohana Plantation and tour Princeville Botanical Gardens.
Need an exciting adventure in Kauai? Ride to the Koloa ziplines and try kayaking on the Wailua River.
Want to see marine life in Kauai? Try snorkeling from the Na Pali Coast and Ni’ihau island.
The best tours in Kauai have something fun for everyone!
Last Updated on March 31, 2023 by Brigitte