Where to Go for the Most Unique Experiences in Kauai

From its clear ocean waters to its verdant forests, Kauai has something for every vacationer. At Bluegreen’s Pono Kai Resort, a 13-acre oceanfront oasis along Kauai’s Coconut Coast, you can take advantage of numerous on-site amenities, such as putting greens and tennis courts, or visit Guest Services to reserve a spot at the next luau. Kauai’s famous beaches and sparkling waters are also perfect for surfing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding.

While you are staying at the Pono Kai Resort, be sure to enjoy all the sites and experiences that make Kauai special. Here are some of the most unique sites to explore:

Opaekaa Falls

Opaekaa Falls

Image courtesy Sarah Richter | Flickr

Widely known as one of the most accessible waterfalls in Kauai, Opaekaa Falls is conveniently located near the Pono Kai Resort in the Wailua area on the east side of the island. Just two miles up Route 580 from Highway 56, there is a roadside lookout point where you can admire the view of the falls and take pictures.

The waterfall is named Opaekaa, or “rolling shrimp,” because the creatures once populated the stream that feeds the falls. While visiting Opaekaa Falls, you can also walk above the lookout point to catch a view of the Wailua River valley and the surrounding plains.

Kilohana Estate

The Kilohana Estate is located just outside of Lihue, a 15-minute drive from Wailua. A restored plantation, the site features tours of a 16,000-square-foot 1930’s Tudor-style mansion. The historic 35-acre estate was once a sugar plantation that played a central role in Kauai’s business, social, and cultural life.

Surrounded by manicured lawns, the Kilohana Estate now offers tropical gardens, Gaylord’s restaurant, and distinctive shops, such as the Koloa Rum Company. You can also explore an old plantation village and tour Kilohana’s working farm with Classic Kauai Plantation Railway. Along with the regularly held Luau Kalamaku, Kilohana Estate often hosts weddings and other special events.

Nounou Mountain

For more adventures on the east side of Kauai, take a hike along the Nounou Mountain range, which is better known as the “Sleeping Giant” because of its distinct shape. Looking at the mountain range from a distance, many people see the shape of a human figure at rest. Hawaiian legend states that the giant slumbers because villagers long ago tricked him into consuming a large number of rocks concealed in poi and fish.

It’s less than two miles from the trail head on Halelilo Road in Wailua to the top of Sleeping Giant along the scenic Nounou Trail. At the top of the ridge, you are rewarded with stunning views of east Kauai.

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

Image courtesy Phillip MacAuliffe | Flickr

From Wailua, it’s only an hour’s drive to the Napali Coast on the North Shore of Kauai, where the 17-mile coastline has become one of the most famous sections of terrain on the island. The Napali Coast is renowned for its steep cliffs, lush hills, rugged valleys, and plummeting waterfalls.

If you’re interested in discovering the magnificent landscape on foot, you’ll need to start at Kee Beach and take the 11-mile Kalalau Trail—the only one through the Napali area—to its end at the quiet Kalalau Beach. Often a treacherous journey, hiking on the trail is discouraged in the winter, and camping permits are required if you spend more than one day on the trail.

Those who don’t want to hike the area can still appreciate the beauty of the Napali Coast by touring the coastline by water or air. Boat tours and guided kayaking trips offer breathtaking views of the sea cliffs, while helicopter tours deliver exquisite panoramas of the coastline.

Spouting Horn Park

In Spouting Horn Park on Kauai’s South Shore, you can discover one of the most photographed sites on the island, the Spouting Horn blowhole. The Spouting Horn blowhole is created by large swells on the Poipu coast that travel through a natural lava tube and explode out the top with “a hiss and a roar” that is part of a Hawaiian legend. According to the legend, the sounds are from a lizard that once defended the coastline and was trapped in the lava tube by a young boy.

Spouting Horn Park’s lookout point also offers spectacular sunset views and whale watching opportunities when humpback whales visit the coastline between December and May.

Kauai Gardens

As a tropical wonderland, Kauai has earned the title “The Garden Isle” and boasts three of the five National Tropical Botanical Gardens in the country. The north side of Kauai features the Limahuli Gardens, which is a 17-acre sanctuary for endangered native plants and agricultural terraces. On the South Shore, the McBryde Garden houses the world’s most extensive assembly of native Hawaiian plants and Allerton Gardens grows the giant Moreton Figs featured in Jurassic Park.

You can explore more Hawaiian flora at Smith’s Tropical Paradise Botanical Garden, Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, and the Kauai Coffee Plantation.