Tourist Attractions and Festivals in Kauai

The island of Kauai is a place of colorful festivals and interesting sights and attractions. This tropical destination is known for its untouched nature, majestic canyons, and volcanic craters, as well as various tourist attractions in the form of old buildings, monuments, and a host of diverse activities to keep visitors occupied.

Popular Kauai festivals

Kauai is not called the island of festivals for no reason at all. It celebrates a number of festivals all-year round, among them are the annual Kauai Mokihana Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, and the famous May Day, or Lei Day. The annual Kauai Mokihana Festival is an eight-day affair, featuring the island's most famous artists and musicians. There are presentations on natural healing, as well as slack key guitar tutorials.

In February, the island comes alive with the sporting spirit from the 5-km and 10-km fun run, also known as Captain Cook’s Caper. Aside from this, sporting events held during the Waimea Town Celebration also include the outrigger canoe race. The town is known for its many festivals and celebrations all-year round, among them are the popular song fests in February that last for ten weeks.

May Day, more commonly known as Lei Day, is a springtime celebration of the island’s diverse flora. Aside from lei-making competitions, different museum exhibits also mark the celebration of this event. In June, you can be part of one of the most famous culinary festivals in the island, the Taste of Hawaii. This event by Kapaa Rotary Club brings together traditional food and mouth-watering dishes prepared by chefs from all over the islands. The O Bon Season also starts in June. This is a festival that celebrates the arrival of Japanese immigrants to the island. The highlight of the celebration is the lighting of tiny Japanese paper boats that are then sent out to sea. June also marks the celebration of the birth of Kamameha the Great, following the Koloa Plantation Days in July.

In August, the island prepares for the Kauai-Tahiti Fete, which features dancers from all over Hawaii, Tahiti, Canada, and the other islands. The Aloha Week Festival is celebrated every October, with dance, music, and traditional Hawaiian food as among the top attractions.

The Hawaii International Film festival is one thing to look forward to in November. Locals and tourists alike can watch the best of Pacific Rim films for free in various island theaters. Tourists have another good reason to extend their stay till December, when island craft artists, painters, and makers of traditional Hawaiian art exhibit their works during the craft fair. The island also comes to life because of its tropical Christmas spirit, with the formation of yearly choral groups and musical ensembles, as well as youth drama groups.

Other attractions

The island is also host to a number of attractions that draw crowds of tourists and locals alike. A popular example is the "Surf to Sunset" luau of Sheraton Kauai Resort, which is set just footsteps from the Poipu Beach. It features a myriad of Hawaiian entertainment, drinks, and food. The banquet is a mix of traditional Hawaiian and international food, from fresh fruits to Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Thai delicacies, which can be served family or buffet style. All these gustatory delights can be enjoyed while listening to traditional Hawaiian performers and watching the Hula dancers sway in the background.

Another attraction is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau, which is famous for sumptuous banquets amidst the best Polynesian and Hawaiian entertainment the island can offer. This includes ancient Kahiko Hula and the pulsating beats of traditional Tahitian dances. A particular crowd pleaser is the enchanting knife dance performed by local Hawaiian entertainers. Guests can expect to be greeted by warm shell lei greetings before settling for the Hawaiian buffet.

Yet another famous attraction is the Smith's Garden Luau. This luau features the traditional Hawaiian pa'ina or feast, the central attraction in any luau. The buffet also features the traditional Hawaiian dishes of roasted Kalua pig, ono mahimahi, and chicken adobo. Diners are also welcome to practice a few Hula moves after dinner, as the luau crew serenades them with traditional Hula music and Hawaiian chanting.

Kauai activities

After a sumptuous meal, you have a lot of things to keep yourself busy on the island. Aside from hiking, trekking, and engaging in one of the many watersports and activities, you can also take a daytrip to one of the neighboring islands by Hawaiian Airines, which offers safe day trips at cheap rates.

You can also take a closer look at the deepest canyon in the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon, which played a role in the hit Speilberg flick, "Jurassic Park." The diverse marine life is also a major attraction here in Kauai, especially for divers from all over the world. Kauai is also known for Koloa Landing, one of the most awesome dive sites in the island. Divers regularly get to meet Hawaiian green sea turtles and monk seals in this dive spot.

The main attraction of the island is its rural, uncommercialized nature. The sandy beaches here are as captivating as those found on postcards, which all seem untouched. Basic necessities are available from the mom and pop stores that dot the island, while upscale comforts are not too far away, with the many three- or four-star hotels and resorts all within a short walking or driving distance.

Tourist spots

The Garden Isle will not cease to amaze visitors with its treasure trove of natural wonders, even as they go deeper into the interior. Those looking for a bit of history can head over to the Old Koloa Town, located on the South Shore, where they can get a glimpse of the architectural history of the island. This is also the location of the Kauai Coffee Company, which is now one of the largest coffee producers in the US. Another equally interesting attraction is the Alekoko Fishponds where visitors can listen to the legend of the Menehune, little people who built the fishponds thousands of years ago. Another interesting stop is the Kilauea Point, where they can see the Hanalei Church and the Kauai Lighthouse.

Another place of interest is the Grove Farm Homestead Museum, as well as the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, one of the places where the opening scenes of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" were filmed. You can also visit Captain Cook’s Monument located in the rural town of Hofgaard Park, which is where Captain Cook first landed in 1778. Captain Cook, along with the crew of the Discovery and the Resolution, is the first Westerner to set foot on the islands.

Another interesting historical point is the Russian Fort Elizabeth, named after Russian doctor Georg Scheffer. He was able to persuade the Hawaiian king to build a fort near Waimea. Other forts were erected near Hanalei. Unfortunately, the Russian doctor could not remain on the island without the backing of the Russian czar, and so, he was forced to leave his forts. This is the only remaining fort in Hawaii.

Other natural attractions in the island include its many beaches, most of them secluded and devoid of the throngs of tourists that characterize other Hawaiian island resorts. Popular beaches include Salt Pond Beach, Shipwreck Beach, and Poipu Beach. More beautiful beaches can be found on the North Shore, which includes the Kee, Hanalei, and Secret Beaches.

For those who want to take a look at secluded beaches that are not easily accessible to most visitors, they can hike their way up to Honopu Beach, where one of the famous scenes of "King Kong" with Jessica Lange was filmed. They can also take a hike at Kalalau Valley, which opens to the Hanea State Park that sits on Wainiha Bay.

For a unique perspective of the Garden Isle, you can take a helicopter tour that allows you to see the Tunnel of Eucalyptus Trees, the Waita Reservoir, Captain Cook’s Landing, and Lumahai Beach, all from above. Helicopter tours can last for an hour. Another interesting alternative is the helicopter kayak combo tour, which gives visitors the opportunity to take a glimpse of the Mt. Wai’ale’ale with its many waterfalls. Guests are given time to enjoy the water. They must bring with them swimming gear and ample sun protection. There is also the Kauai Custom Flight, a 65–minute narrated tour, which covers a majority of the island’s most popular attractions.

Whale watching is an added treat in winter. Other points of interest include Kipu Kai, Hanapepe Valley, and the Na Pali coastline. Other guests may prefer the Kauai Grand Flight, which takes 70 minutes to cover nine prime tourist spots including Kipu Kai, Hanapepe Valley, Olokeke Canyon, the Waimea Canyon, the Wailua Waterfall, and Princeville. Another popular tour is the Kalapaki Bay Kayak Tour, an ideal tour for kayaking beginners.

Their colorful festivals and fun-filled celebrations all add up to reasons you should rediscover Kauai and enjoy the many tourist attractions and activities this island has to offer.