Best Tours and Excursions in Kauai

Experience Kaua`i's best tours & excusions via helicopters, boats, hikes, waves and waterfalls

Kaua`i is the land of adventure. From the mountains to the ocean, from under the sea to the top of the mountains at the wettest spot on earth, Kaua`i is home to some of the best tours and excursions on the planet, and 10Best is here to guide you to these great attractions. It can be overwhelming at times when exploring all of the options for an exciting day on the island - there's a lot of them. That's why we've thoroughly explored all of the possibilities so that we could compile this list of the top ten, must try tours and excursions on the Garden Island.

There's many ways to see the island, and we recommend trying at least one of each kind. Aerial views of Hawaii's most diverse island will create ultimate memories and leave you with amazing photos. The Kaua`i Grand Circle Tour with Island Helicopters offers a birds eye view of the most hard to reach places on the island. From the vertical cliffs of the Na Pali Coast to the depths of Waimea Canyon and the hidden waterfalls in between, the helicopter ride will leave you in awe.

Seriously adventurous visitors will find excitement with Na Pali Kayak, on a long paddle down the gorgeous coast. Guests have the option of seeing the coast during a day long tour, camping trip, or special honeymoon tour.

So check out our list and then grab your gear and head out to explore Kaua`i's nooks and crannies.


Owned by the owners of the "Forbidden Island" of Ni`ihau, Safari Helicopters offers two tours. The Deluxe Waterfall Safari offers just that - a 60 minute trip to Wai`ale`ale Crater which is known as the wettest spot on earth and takes you over amazing waterfalls cascading down the high cliffs all over the island. The tour also flies to Waimea Canyon, exploring its crevices and waterfalls and along the spectacular Na Pali Coast. Along the coast you will get a peak into it's hidden valleys and beaches. Regular price is $245 for each person with special web fares to check for.

Local Expert tip: An especially convenient tour if you're staying on the south or west side of the island.

Read more about Safari Helicopters Deluxe Waterfall Safari →

Holo Holo Charters
Photo courtesy of Holo Holo Charters

A great Na Pali snorkeling boat tour that leaves from the west side, Holo Holo charters will give you a wonderful day on the water. They offer the Na Pali snorkeling sail, ranging from $99 to $139. Here you'll wind along the coast seeing the secluded beaches, valleys and vertical cliffs that make up the famous coast. They are a long standing trusted company with one sailing cat and one motorized cat. They leave out of the Port Allen Harbor on the west side of the island, enabling a short drive to the coast. They are known for treating guests good.

Local Expert tip: If you go on a Friday check out Hanapepe Art Night just up the road.

Read more about Holo Holo Charters →

Ni`ihau Helicopters
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Fly to Hawaii's Forbidden Island of Ni`ihau, owned by the Robison family, the same owners of the helicopter company. Hop on the chopper mid-morning and then across the west side channel to the desolate island. Here you'll explore beaches, walking for hours and picking up whatever you find. They treat you to a sandwich lunch, and you get a roughly half hour air tour of the island. After about four hours on Ni`ihau you head back. As Hawaii's most secluded and least populated island, visiting Ni`ihau is like taking a trip back in time. The beaches and interior of the island are untouched, and exude a sense of peace like no other.

Local Expert tip: Bring a bag with a snorkel and mask and a small bag to put shells in.

Read more about Ni`ihau Helicopters →


Water skiing, kneeboarding, hydrofoil (a type of board where it rises above the water while being pulled behind the boat), and wakeboarding are all offered with Kauai Water Ski & Surf Co. This is the only company on Kauai to offer these activities, and they take you up the gorgeous winding Wailua River on the east side. Five passengers can fit on the boat, and they are allowed to come along at no charge and watch you board around the river. Although the river can be explored by kayak, this is by far the most exciting and dramatic way to go up the river.

Local Expert tip: Try the hydrofoil.

Read more about Water Sport with Kauai Water Ski and Surf Co. →

Experience the best surfing with the Grand Master of Surfing himself, the famous Titus Kinimaka. From beginner to experienced riders the Hawaiian School of Surfing is run by native Kauaian's with a rich surfing tradition that dates back to the 1950's. All instructors are experienced lifeguards and watermen. They'll take you to surf in Hanalei Bay and other reef breaks around the island, depending on experience. Beginner lessons for $65 last 90 minutes and they guarantee that you will surf! After the lesson you will be encouraged to continue using the equipment for the rest of the day for no extra charge. The advanced class for $65 is for surfers who have been surfing consistently for 3-5 years. In most cases surfers bring their own boards and equipment, however the school is happy to provide you with a board and rash guard at no extra charge. This class is primarily for surfers who would like help understanding the Hanalei surf break and how to properly ride the famous break. Lesson will last 90 minutes and surfers are encouraged to use the equipment for the rest of the day to hone their skills. The Extreme Class costs $250 and is for veteran surfers who want to experience the tow-in sensation of big wave riding. They will provide the following:All necessary personal equipment, jet ski's and a location tour. A stand-up surfing lesson costs $65 and they will provide the following: 12 foot soft top stand up board and 72 inch staff aluminum paddles. Titus Kinimaka is a professional surfer, stuntman and adventurer. Titus has been sponsored by Quiksilver Since 1981 and has traveled the globe as their ambassador. In 2000, Titus founded the Hawaiian School of Surfing and has built it into one of the most prolific schools in the Islands with over 6000 lessons taught in the last 12 months alone.

Local Expert tip: Where a rash guard to avoid rash from the wax.

Read more about Titus Kinimaka Hawaiian Scool of Surfing →

A lovely hike with great views, the Kuilau Ridge Trail is pretty gentle at first but is at a consistent incline, which can be a bit tiring. About half an hour up the trail you'll come to a picnic area and this is a great place to enjoy a lunch. This spot also has wonderful views down into a valley and if it's a clear day you'll be treated to a great view of Mount Wai`ale`ale. Keep going past the picnic area for a few minutes and you'll be rewarded with a nature stroll like no oter, with amazing views, lush foliage, and coastal views. Turn around a the wooden bridge and head back. The whole hike should take about three hours. It starts about 1 3/4 mile past the Kaua`i Research and Extension Center. Head up Kuamo`o Road and you'll see the trail head marker on the right side.

Local Expert tip: Make sure to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the picnic area.

Read more about Kuilau Ridge Trail →

Cruise up the Hanalei River on a stand-up paddle board, or a kayak with the outfitter Kayak Kauai based out of the historic town. Morning is a nice time to go before it gets too hot, and it's a wonderful way to begin the day. Kayak Kauai offers stand-up paddle lessons and rentals from their dock up the river. It's about a 20 to 30 minute paddle down the river to the ocean. Lesson cost $85 and rentals are $45 per day or $225 per week. Both include a leash and if needed, a car rack. This is a relaxing tour through nature.

Local Expert tip: Take a paddle before a shopping and beach day in Hanalei.

Read more about Kayak Kauai →

Touring through the air with Island Helicopters, who is conveniently located across from the Lihu`e Airport helipads and flies over the highly desired Manawaiopuna Falls, otherwise known as Jurassic Falls, is one of the best experiences on the island. The Kaua`i Grand Circle Tour provides views of vast and deep Waimea Canyon, the gorgeous Na Pali Coast and its vertical cliffs, and the lush North Nhore with its vast white sand beaches and huge waves that surfers carve up. Lasting 50 to 60 minutes, the tour doesn't include landing at the falls, but the aerial views are nothing short of amazing.

Local Expert tip: Bring a video camera.

Read more about Island Helicopters Kauai Inc →

For some seriously fun Na Pali Coast Exploration, check out the Na Pali Kayak tour. They take adventurous hikers, honeymooners, and campers along the gorgeous rugged coastline during a variety of guided tours. Tours include day long kayaking trips, camping along the coast, a honeymoon private charter for two, and other private guided tours. Fees range from $200 to $3,000 for a group charter so it's a good idea to call for current details and prices. This is an extreme sport and excursion, but leaves guests with some of the best memories that can be made on all of Kaua`i.

Local Expert tip: Do not forget the camera.

Read more about Na Pali Kayak →

Wailua Falls
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt

Many visitors recognize these twin falls as the ones pictured in the opening sequence of the "Fantasy Island" TV show. Their dramatic, 80-foot double tumble is the subject of many tourist photographs, a distinct difference from the days when Hawaiian royalty dove from the cliffs as a sign of power and prowess. Although the falls' beauty waxes and wanes depending on rainfall, they're always a worthy site. Some folks choose to hike down to the basin, but the journey, which is steep and somewhat treacherous, is perhaps best reserved for adrenalin junkies. The thunder of the falls is a relaxing sound and whether you hike down to the pool or watch from above it's a wonderful excursion.

Local Expert tip: Serious adventurers can consider taking the trail up to the falls.

Read more about Wailua Falls →


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade