Explore Kauai by Region
There is much talk, if not controversy, about how to split up Kaua'i by region so that we can easily describe the island on a website such as this. Why the debate you ask? Well, Kaua'i, like all the Hawaiian islands, is part of a county politically divided into several districts, clockwise: Hanalei, Kawaihau, Lihue, Koloa, and Waimea. Quite honestly, to the modern-day traveler, these districts serve no purpose.
The remedy then is to find a way to divide the island into segments that are easy to recognize, describe, and access via the major roads of the island. This is where much of the debate comes from. Every "expert" has their way of dissecting the island into pieces.
Our way is pretty simple, and the method we've followed online mirrors the format we've utilized in our physical guidebooks and eBooks too. Ultimately we've divided the island in a manner that helps us group attractions together so that they are easily accessible along the major routes of the island. This allows us to use our mile by mile directions to quickly and accurately describe each spot here on our website.
East Kauai Region Guide
There are many people who will call East Kaua'i the Coconut Coast, and once you visit you'll see why. For miles along the shoreline there are hundreds of coconut trees.
East Kaua'i will also be where rain chances increase as the trade winds blow in from the Pacific. The average rainfall varies along the coastline, but you can expect to see a little more than on the south and west sides - between 45 and 60 inches a year. Head mauka (inland) towards Wai'ale'ale or Kawaikini, though, rain increases by the foot, literally. The average temperature is much cooler in this region than the south or west at around 70F.
The east coast is probably the second most popular part of the island, including for accommodations, and thus most of the resorts are along this stretch, especially in Kapa'a. Plus, there are plenty of attractions gracing the region, from Wailua Falls and Opaeka'a Falls to the Fern Grotto, all near the Wailua River.
In East Kauai, you'll pass through the popular resort area of Kapa'a. It is a small oceanfront town that's getting ever so close to the North Shore. It is also right on the edge of Wailua River State Park and Lydgate Beach Park.
Other towns you'll find on the east coast include: Wailua, Hanamaulu, and Anahola.
South Kauai Region Guide
The southern side of Kaua'i is warm, dry, and generally arid averaging about 35-40 inches of rain a year. The average temperature is 78F, but don't be surprised if temps get into the high 80's or even 90's in this region.
Though far from the popular North Shore and scarcely populated, the South side has a lot to offer. The biggest attractions here are the perfect beaches around the Poipu area, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Spouting Horn.
The Poipu area stretches around Makahuena Point and is a popular tourist destination, filled with hotels, condos, resorts, shopping, and vacation rentals.
Other towns you'll find on the south side include: Kalaheo, Koloa, Lawai, and Omao.
North Kauai Region Guide
As on all the Hawaiian Islands, this region is typically known as the famous "North Shore." The North Shore has a mild average temperature in the mid to low 70's, but much of it receives a lot more rain - up to 120 inches a year in some places. This makes it green, lush, and very tropical.
One of the most popular resort areas is also located on the north shore of Kauai, Princeville. Princeville is a large and popular resort area overlooking the cliffs of Hanalei and Hanalei Bay with everything you could ever need to make the perfect vacation. Just hold onto your wallet, things can be pricey here. Houses in this area go for too much money and way too much money. Compared to the west coast of Kaua'i, this is Beverly Hills.
Other towns you'll find include: Kilauea, Ha'ena, and Hanalei with its beautiful bay and beaches.
West Kauai Region Guide
For the most part, West Kauai is impassable, filled with mountainous terrain and valleys that make roads impossible to build here. The northwest side of Kauai is most famous for Waimea Canyon and the Kokee State Park trails and hikes that stretch far and wide across this region. The southwest side contains several small towns and various attractions.
You've probably heard the most about this region because of Waimea Canyon, which Mark Twain called, "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." It is indeed a beautiful sight to behold, and you have several overlooks to enjoy it from. The region is a mecca to hikers, offering dozens of trails from the most challenging to quite easy
Southwest Kauai includes the Waimea town area, Hanapepe town, and Polihale Beach State Park. The weather on this side of the island varies greatly. Here on the southwest side, it is incredibly dry.
Na Pali Region Guide
When it comes to scenic areas, Na Pali may very well be the top on the list here in Hawaii. Miles of rugged coastline more beautiful than anything imagined, it truly feels like another world. So whether you fly over it, hike it, or take a boat around the edges of it... Na Pali is something that must be experienced.
These sea cliffs begin at Ke'e Beach in North Kauai and continue around the north and west portion of Kauai, ending at Polihale Beach bordering West Kauai. They extend upwards of 1000 feet and made up of a series of "hanging" and traditional valleys and cliffs. A "hanging" valley is one that ends abruptly at a sea cliff rather than gently stretching out into the ocean. They are formed when the ocean's waves cut away at the lava rock quicker than the interior streams can scour out the valley floor.
Many movies, such as The Thorn Birds and portions of South Pacific, have been filmed along this coast using the dramatic background of these steep cliffs. Numerous sea caves, small beaches and high waterfalls add to the beauty and uniqueness of the landscape.