Free Things To Do In Kauai
You don’t have to shell out a ton of your savings on your trip to Kauai when there are countless things to experience! Ten fun things to do in Kauai for free include:
- Luxuriating at Hanalei Bay
- Following the Kalalau Trail
- Exploring Poipu Shopping Village
- Relaxing at Poipu Beach Park
- Taking pictures at the Spouting Horn
- Run Across the Hanging Bridges in Hanapepe
- Snorkeling at Tunnels Beach
- Witnessing the waterfalls at Wailua River State Park
- Trying local coffee from the Kauai Coffee Company
- Take a Guided Tour by Shaka Guides
- Hiking the Waimea Canyon
Here’s a closer look at each activity!
1. Loosen Up at Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay is a guarded beach where you can swim, paddleboard, or simply enjoy the big sandy areas. There aren’t many shady spots, but this just makes it better to sunbathe on the beach.
There are facilities if you have some money to spare, but you can enjoy the bay without spending. Hanalei Bay does get quite a lot of visitors, but you can rest assured that it’s big enough to support another group without getting too crowded.
2. Follow Kalalau Trail
Kalalau Trail is a popular backpacking path to the world-famous Na Pali Coast. Other visitors might opt for boats or helicopter rides to the coast, but they’re truly missing out (and spending more) by skipping the only land option!
If you’ve hiked before and are up for another 22 miles in your adventure repertoire, consider following the entire Kalalau Trail when in Kauai. You’ll witness all the beautiful things that nature has to offer, from ocean views to tropical forests. Note that you must be an experienced hiker before attempting this trail.
OR, if you are hiking with small children (or just don’t want to hike that far) you can hike as far as the 1/2 mile mark and still see some amazing views of the beach and the Napali Coast. This was a definite highlight of our trip to Kauai!
3. Explore Poipu Shopping Village
Experience free entertainment at Poipu Shopping Village when you’re in Kauai! Events you can expect in this spot include Hula performances and a farmer’s market. Hula performances feature live Hawaiian music. Meanwhile, you can enjoy locally grown vegetables from their scheduled farmer’s market events. Poipu Shopping Village is an ideal stop to experience Hawaii’s rich culture and tradition first-hand. Based on its official website, you can enjoy its events on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Consider planning your trip around these days, so you don’t miss out!
We spent our last night in Kauai at the Poipu Shopping Village getting ice cream from Lappert’s (you have to try the Kauai Pie flavor!) and Hawaiian shave ice from Uncle’s Shave Ice. This is also a great spot to shop for those last minute souvenirs.
4. Relax at Poipu Beach Park
After experiencing the culture at Poipu Shopping Village, you can relax at Poipu Beach Park. It’s one of the most popular beaches on Kauai, so you might not get as much privacy as you would expect. Still, the environment remains laidback.
Expect calm waters that your kids can wade in and golden sands with palm trees to help you relax in luxury. This park also has a more open bay nearby if you want to explore Kauai’s underwater ecosystems.
Poipu Beach is also a great place to learn how to surf! Since the waves aren’t too aggressive my kids felt totally safe taking their first surfing lesson here!
5. Snap Photos at the Spouting Horn
Another spot near Poipu is Spouting Horn. This blowhole is a great tourist spot with a marketplace selling souvenirs. Depending on the local weather conditions, you might be lucky enough to see water shooting up the lava spout.
Spouting Horn also has a legend attached to it. Locals believe that the blowhole is a giant lizard’s territory. This lizard monster is named Kaikapu, and he is said to make the roaring noises of the blowhole.
6. Run Across the Hanging Bridges in Hanapepe
Another free thing you can do in Kauai is visit the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. This is a wooden swinging suspension bridge that was originally built in the early 1900’s that was originally built for locals to cross the river. After a hurricane it was restored but it is still a rickety wooden bridge that kids will love exploring! It’s a short walk from a parking lot and just a little bit off the beaten path. While you’re in Hanapepe be sure to check out the little galleries and shops for artwork made by local artists.
7. Snorkel at Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach is a snorkeling hotspot. Novice and experienced snorkelers alike have much to discover in the beach’s vast reef, from corals, sea caves, and countless wildlife. The Hawaiian monk seal is the rarest species you can find when swimming in Tunnels Beach.
There are lifeguards maintaining order in the area. The expansive beach has some areas that are unsuited for visitors but tempting to explore. If no visible signs are discouraging you from going to an area, but you feel unsure about proceeding, just approach an official.
Another free family friendly snorkeling spot is Lydgate Beach! There are two protected lagoons sectioned off by large rocks that allow fish to swim in and out of the area. That also means it’s perfect for wading in the water without getting knocked around by the waves!
8. Witness the Wailua River State Park Waterfalls
If you’re more of a sightseer than a snorkeler, you can enter Wailua River State Park for free. This place features waterscapes, particularly Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls. At the same time, landscapes include royal sites and places of worship and refuge.
Since this is a free-access park, all you have to do is bring yourself. There are picnic tables surrounding the area, making it a perfect place to bond with your friends or family while you’re in Kauai.
9. Taste the Kauai Coffee Company Difference
Kauai Coffee Company offers walking tours of its local coffee orchard. See how the company grows, harvests, processes, and roasts high-quality coffee beans that you can taste for yourself! Kauai has fertile volcanic soil, promising a rich flavor.
You can also take pictures of the breathtaking sites around the estate. If you’re in the area on a Wednesday, you can participate in a scavenger hunt the company hosts on these sites. Think of it as an “Amazing Race” situation where you can win Kauai Coffee and unforgettable moments.
10. Take a Guided Tour by Shaka Guides
While this isn’t entirely free, the guided tours are very inexpensive and a no brainer if you want to hit some of the best sites on the island without doing a whole lot of research on your own. The Shaka Guide app is free but to access the tours it will cost you $19.99. We did the Waimea and NaPali Driving Tour which took us about 4 hours (we skipped a few stops and stopped for lunch). The app tracks with your GPS, tells you when and where to turn, and tells stories along the way that were a hit with our kids. I highly, highly recommend trying at least one of these tours!
11. Discover Waimea Canyon
Finally, one of the best things you can experience in Kauai for free is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” otherwise known as Waimea Canyon. No words can capture the spectacular scenes this landscape offers.
If you rented a car in Kauai, you’ll be in for a visual treat. From waterfalls and rivers to red cliff sides and green crested buttes, Waimea Canyon reminds visitors about all the beautiful sights the world has to offer.
If you want to hike in the park it will cost you $10 per car and $5 per person. But there are plenty of view points along the way where you can pull over and take a peak for free!
You don’t need a big budget to maximize your stay in Kauai! On your next Hawaiian trip, consider adding the fun things to do in Kauai that we listed above to your itinerary.
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