Lihue Things to Do

Kauai Activities

Lihue is said to be the most traveled town on the island of Kauai since it is home to the island's most popular and main airport. The town is also the government and commercial center for the island of Kauai, leading the city to be a comfortable and convenient place to visit first.

While Lihue is seen as a government and commercial center, the town is nowhere near short of the natural wonders that you expect to see on the lush island of Kauai. If you have an adventurous spirit, get ready to bodysurf, stand-up paddleboard, surf, or swim throughout the many natural beach spots surrounding Lihue.

Enjoy coastal landscapes, beaches lined with palm trees, and the background of Hawaiian mountains when you visit Lihue.

John Derrick
Published on: 12-28-2019
Published by: John C. Derrick

Lihue is located near natural reserves, including the lush Kalepa Mountain Forest Reserve and the Ahukini Recreation Pier State Park. The city's culture embraces the many natural spaces, including beaches and tropical forests, which offer plenty of opportunities to get active and enjoy the plentiful outdoor playgrounds that Kauai’s tropical landscape has to offer.

Luckily, the beaches in the area are relatively safe to tread and beautifully clear and blue. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take a boat out onto the ocean to feel truly free! Other beach activities include a number of sports, perfect for those who want to experiment. Equipment rentals allow you and your family to try surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, boogie boarding, and more!

Directions to Lihue

Kauai’s town of Lihue is found on the southeast corner of Kauai, mere minutes from the coast. If you’re flying into the Lihue Airport, Kauai’s main airport, you’re in luck! With just 6 minutes in the car, you can step off the plane and be in the center of everything that you’ve been waiting for in Lihue. Simply head west along Ahukini Road into the center of the town.

A Brief History of Lihue

The area that is now Lihue was initially established as a result of the growing sugarcane industry Kauai, leading to the formation of the Lihue Sugar Plantation by German colonists in 1849. The industry continued for several decades but eventually declined as a result of the industry’s high costs in comparison to other sugarcane sources abroad. Today, evidence of the city’s sugarcane past lingers. Many abandoned sugar mills are maintained so that tourists can visit and explore a little bit of Kauai’s history.

Grove Farm Homestead Museum was built in 1864 and open as a living museum in 1978. It is situated in the former plantation home of a sugar-mill owner.

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Wailua Falls

Commonly known as Kauai’s Twin Falls, Wailua Falls is a double-tiered waterfall that is quite popular among visitors as it is easily accessible. The waterfall is often featured in publications and, as a result, has become a symbol of the stunning landscape that Kauai can offer. Interestingly enough, Wailua Falls was featured on the TV Show Fantasy Island!

To get to Wailua Falls, it is just a quick 13-minute drive. Starting from the center of Lihue, head north along the State Highway 583. After just under 4 miles, you will find your destination on the right. Get ready for stunning views!

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Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach is a popular destination, offering many ways to get active, including swimming, surfing, body surfing, and well-kept beaches that are safe and very walkable. There are also opportunities for kids to enjoy ocean activities, as the beach doesn't often experience dangerous waves. Cool off with a shaved ice from the Kalapaki Beach Hut.

To get to Kalapaki Beach, only a 10-minute drive is necessary. From Lihue, head south on Highway 56, turning left onto Rice Street. Turn left at the fork, then right onto Kalapaki Circle. You will soon see an opportunity to park your vehicle and get ready for your beach day!

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Image provided by Koloa Rum Company

Koloa Rum Company

Forget the brewery and visit a distillery instead! The Koloa Rum Company Tasting Room, located adjacent to the Company Store, offers daily scheduled tastings of its award-winning rums every half-hour so that you can taste the flavor of Hawaii! Spirits from the Koloa Rum Company are made from Hawaiian sugarcane, distilled twice in a copper pot still for a smooth flavor that you’ll certainly want to take with you!

Start your distillery adventure by heading south on Highway 56 from the center of Lihue. Continue onto Highway 50, where you will soon reach your destination. The trip in total only takes 8 minutes, making it a must-do on your Lihue itinerary.

Kauai Museum

Learn about the charmed and checkered history of Kauai and the town of Lihue at the Kauai Museum. The museum is a great place to explore the heritage and indigenous culture that has created a foundation for modern-day Kauai. As well, the museum offers the opportunity for modern local artists to display their creations that are inspired by the island and culture of Kauai.

The Kauai Museum can be found in the center of Lihue, just along Rice Street. From the center of Lihue, take Highway 56 south, and turn left onto Rice Street. Soon, the destination will be on your left.

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The Fish Express

The Fish Express is a local food joint that offers a variety of island-style and Asian-fusion dishes that regularly feature fresh seafood from the surrounding coasts. Finish off your day by exploring Kauai with a satisfying meal from The Fish Express! Enjoy fresh fish specials, including Katsu with Wasabi Cream, Fresh Fish Tacos, and Macadamia Nut Crusted with Lilikoi, or other dishes like the Gourmet Bentos.

The Fish Express is so easy to get to that there’s no excuse not to go! Head north along Highway 56 and turn left just after the Oxford Street intersection, where your destination will be waiting for you!

Lihue Did You Know? 

Another very interesting element of the area’s past pertains to ancient Hawaiian chiefs. According to historical records, Hawaiian chiefs would prove their courage by diving over the cliff at Wailua Falls! These falls, while popular among many visitors today, prove to be a very scary feat. Wailua Falls is approximately 85 feet high, dropping into a pool that is over 30 feet deep.

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