When you visit Kauai, there is so much to see and do that it’s a great idea to book a tour or excursion to get the most out of your time. You will experience the best things about The Garden Isle thanks to the local knowledge only a trained tour guide can provide.
There are Kauai tours and excursions for every type of adventurer, whether you’d like to sit back and do some sightseeing tours or really get in on the action with snorkeling, surfing, and hiking activities. Once you know what kind of tour you’re after, it’s wise to bring a small backpack with essentials like sunglasses, reef-safe sunscreen, and light snacks, and always wear a comfortable pair of shoes that can get wet.
If you’re looking for some of the best excursions in Kauai, look no further than the following list. Adventures of all kinds are one quick reservation away, but be sure to book your excursion in advance, as many of the options fill up fast during the busy seasons.
The Best Excursions in Kauai
Zipline Across Koloa
Zip lining is one of the most fun things to do in Kaui so you can’t miss it. You can enjoy a thrilling day of flying through the forests of Koloa and across the Waita Reservoir with this exciting adventure-packed ziplining excursion. Choose from one of eight tracks or hit them all over three hours of fun.
Release your inner superhero with the hands-free “Flyin’ Kauai’an” harness that allows you to fly like a character out of a movie or hang upside down as you glide across forests and valleys. If you’re happy with a more traditional zipline experience, just grab hold of the handles and settle in for an exhilarating ride along the longest ziplines on Kauai.
Be sure to wear a good pair of hiking shoes, as the beginning of all of the courses does include an elevation shift. This gentle climb ensures proper views when you’re ziplining. Between runs, you will take a break with snacks.
The tour requires a good weather day, but if things aren’t ideal on the day you book, you can change the date or get a full refund. Here is our full Koloa Zipline review.
Go On A Snorkeling Cruise On The Na Pali Coast
A visit to Kauai wouldn’t be complete without getting in the water and snorkeling to see some marine life on the Na Pali Coast. The famed area along the northern shore is home to some of the most stunning natural views of Hawaii.
When you book this 5.5-hour catamaran cruise and snorkeling tour, you will experience the best of these sights from places just off the shore.
Throughout the half-day excursion, travelers get several opportunities to snorkel and swim with the chance to see dolphins and sea turtles. The experienced guides take you to these spots and provide tips along your journey while keeping a watchful eye over your party to ensure safety.
Out of the water, relax and enjoy the vistas along the Na Pali Coast, featuring jagged seaside cliffs and verdant hillsides sloping directly into the deep blue waters. The tour starts off right with a snack for breakfast and a prepared meal for lunch before wrapping up. Beer, wine, and Mai’Tais are included for patrons 21 and over, and an assortment of nonalcoholic juices, water, and soda for everyone else.
Take A Helicopter Tour
One way to gain new perspectives on the island is to see it from above on a helicopter tour. For a truly unparalleled adventure and views of Kauai, consider booking this Eco Adventure Helicopter Ride from Blue Hawaiian, the pioneers of helicopter tours on the island.
Your trip begins in Lihue and takes you to spectacular sights like Mt. Waialeale, the waterfalls of Waiapuna, the vast expanse of Waimea Canyon State Park, the breathtaking Na Pali Coast and 7 other stops.
Over the course of the 50-minute tour, you will have a full view from the large windows of the Eurocopter Eco-Star helicopter. As you sit in the business class seat, the pilot will explain through your headset all the different landscapes you pass by. Questions are welcomed too.
Due to the limited number of seats on each helicopter, this is an activity with limited party sizes. You can also see our full guide for more popular helicopter tours in Kauai.
Kayak and Hike The Wailua River & Secret Falls
Secret Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island and you can see it all with this excursion. The hiking and kayaking tour begins in Kapa’a on the east coast of Kauai. Over five hours, you will venture up the Wailua River and back. We like how the instructors specifically point out all the natural landmarks along the way.
Once you make your way up the Wailua River for some time, you hike through a beautiful rainforest to see the glorious waterfall known as Secret Falls. It’s a great chance to cool off with a swim before the rest of the trek.
We recommend bringing a comfortable pair of hiking shoes that can get wet and muddy. This tour includes approximately 2 miles of hiking through slippery terrain, and adequate shoes or boots will make your time much easier.
Take along your family and friends or make a few new ones with this tour operated by Duke’s Kayak Adventures. Find more kayaking tours here.
Attend A Luau
A luau is a one of a kind show you need to experience when you come to Hawaii. Immerse yourself in the vibrant history of Polynesian culture by visting this luau hosted by Luau Kalamaku on the grounds of the historic Kilohana Plantation.
It has everything including a photo session with the cast, live music and hula, an imu ceremony with a traditional whole roast pig, and an open bar. Round-trip transportation to and from your hotel is available upon request.
Throughout the evening, you will learn about the legends of Polynesia as told by stunning performances. The talented performers of Luau Kalamaku bring epic stories to life and make you feel right at home throughout the evening.
The buffet is one of the best things we like about it. It features classical Hawaiian cuisine with teriyaki chicken and Kalua pork. You get a taste of the fusion of Eastern and Western flavors that make Hawaii such a unique culinary destination.
Take A Backroads ATV Tour
You will be able to experience the terrain of Kauai the same way as the locals do with this ATV adventure courtesy of Kauai ATVs. Since much of the island is rough terrain, this gives you the chance to see what you might miss otherwise with a car rental. You will see the real Kauai including old plantations, Waita Reservoir, and an active volcano.
There is much historical significance along the trail which you can learn from the guides. Safety is crucial so you’re provided with goggles, helmets, and souvenir neck gaiters that are yours to keep as a souvenir.
Expect some hiking and even the opportunity for some fishing at the Waita Reservoir. I advise you to bring a comfortable pair of all-day shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. The vehicles are open-air which contributes to the overall experience. This tour is a great way to spend about 3 hours exploring the landscapes.
Stroll the Princeville Botanical Gardens With Chocolate
Who doesn’t love to try new chocolate? Visitors to the island can Indulge in the treat while strolling through the Princeville Botanical Gardens. Over the course of 3 hours, they take you through different landscapes along the area.
Make sure to bring a camera because you will want to capture some photos of the beautifully curated gardens.
In addition to several kinds of gourmet chocolates, they treat you to fresh tropical fruits and freshly harvested honey from the bees in the Princeville Botanical Gardens. Visiting helps support this Kauai institution, which is a place dedicated to the conservation of the bounty of the island.
This makes for a romantic thing to do in Kauai for couples. It’s much more laid back and peaceful compared to the other excursions in case you want to take it easier this day.
Learn To Surf At Hanalei Bay
If you really want to connect to the spirit of Hawaii, you need to try your hand at surfing at least once. This tour from Hawaiian Surfing Adventures is a great choice for any first-timer surfers who want to give it a shot. Hanalei Bay is one of the best surfing spots for beginners in Kauai due to the calm waters.
After a short lesson on the shore, they take you to the water and get you on a board in no time. The certified surfing instructors will guide you every step of the way and ensure you are able to catch waves during your session. It’s almost 2 hours from start to finish, and the small class size means an almost private instruction experience. It’s one of the most family-friendly excursions in Kauai.
The only requirement for this tour is that you can swim, and if the weather is an issue, you are always able to reschedule. All necessary equipment is provided as part of it, and you just need to worry about wearing appropriate swimwear and bringing along a towel. Don’t forget Hawaii reef-safe sunscreen to protect the ecosystem. We have a separate article in case you want more surfing lesson options.
Go On A Na Pali Coast Sightseeing Boat Tour
Starting on the southern coast of Kauai, you embark on one of the top sightseeing excursions on the west side of the island before making your way to the Na Pali Coast as the sun sets. Get cozy and bask in the stunning views from your spot on the catamaran either inside the cabin or out over the water for 3.5 hours. This is one of the best boat tours in Kauai.
All of the highlights will be on display including the stunning 4,000-foot sheer drops of the sea cliffs, stone spires, pristine beaches, and rainforest valleys. The guides provide plenty of entertainment and information throughout the trip.
Full dinner and drinks are included. I’d recommend bringing medicine along if you’re prone to seasickness since the waters in this part of Kauai are known to be choppy from time to time. The sights are worth some discomfort but it is best to be prepared.
It’s the perfect way to close out your vacation in paradise watching a remarkable sunset over the Na Pali Coast before heading back to shore. If you visit anytime during December and May, you might be able to see some whales in the water since this is humpback whale season.
Go Snorkeling On The Southern Shore
The shores on the southern coast are a prime location for snorkeling, and this guided tour will take you straight to some hot spots just outside of Koloa. Their certified dive instructors teach you the basics you need to know. You will spend an hour in the water checking out tropical fish, urchins of all shapes and colors, and the coral reef.
Unlike the other boat snorkeling tours, this one embarks directly from a soft shore, allowing complete beginners to join in on the fun. We advise that you’re comfortable in the water and a decent swimmer, although the ocean conditions on this part of the island tend to be favorable for anyone based on our experience.
Sea turtles and monk seals are popular near this area, so you might spot one depending on the season and your luck. Since it’s all based on weather conditions, try to book it on a day with good weather. Snacks and water as well as snorkeling equipment are provided by them.
Snorkel The Na Pali Coast
Visitors can hop on board this 37’ Naiad raft and prepare for a snorkeling adventure like no other. They provide you with snorkeling gear and let you dive into the water to see dolphins, sea turtles, and underwater reefs and coral formations along the rocky shores.
Between snorkeling stops, you will be able to sit on the deck and eat complimentary snacks and beverages. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the many sea caves and waterfalls along the shore, but the helpful staff will sometimes point them out too.
This tour is available year-round, but during the winter it may be postponed or modified due to the high swells that occur. While it’s still a great tour, we recommend booking it during the spring or summer for a better chance of seeing everything. You can also catch glimpses of whales and dolphins at certain opportunities.