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Each island in Hawaii has its own unique offerings, Kauai included. This small, lush island has some of Hawaii’s most dramatic scenery, charming villages and natural wonders like the incredible Waimea Canyon. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to see and do while on Kauai:
1. Visit Hanalei Town. Just a few minutes west of Princeville on Kauai’s north end is the quiet town of Hanalei. Once you cross the nostalgic Hanalei Bridge, you’ll be transported to this small town, a throwback to “Old Hawaii.” There are historic sites, art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants here. Be sure to visit Hanalei Bay and walk the pier, which was built in 1892 and made famous in the classic 1958 film South Pacific. It was more recently featured in the Oscar-winning film The Descendants starring George Clooney.
2. Take part in Hanapepe Art Night. Every Friday night the little town of Hanapepe on Kauai’s south shore hosts an art night, when artists keep their galleries open late and folks walk down Hanapepe Road to the sounds of live music. While you’re there, be sure to cross the town’s famous swinging bridge.
3. Witness the Na Pali Coast. There are different ways to see Kauai’s majestic coastline, which stretches 17 miles along the island’s north shore. The rugged terrain, steep cliffs and emerald valleys can be viewed by boat, on guided kayak tours and from a helicopter. The only land access to this area is the Kalalau Trail — a treacherous 11-mile trail that starts at the popular Ke’e Beach and ends at the secluded Kalalau Beach — that often takes two days to complete.
4. Waimea Canyon. Called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” this Canyon on Kauai’s west side is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and about 3,600 feet deep. Pull over at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, between mile markers 10 and 11 on Waimea Canyon Road, to see this gaping gulch. You can hike into the canyon or view it from a helicopter, too.
5. Waioli Mission House. Built in 1837 in Hanalei, Waioli Mission House was home to missionary teachers Abner and Lucy Wilcox and their seven sons. It was restored in 1921 and is now preserved as a historic site. Many of the original furnishings are still in the home, giving you a sense of what rural life on Kauai was like more than 160 years ago.