Top 5 Kauai Island Road Trip Destinations | Budget Car Rental

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Nicknamed the Garden Isle, Kauai is full of breathtaking scenery. As one of the wettest places on earth, all that rain makes for a green landscape like you’ve never seen before. It’s hard to beat the aquamarine waters, white-sand beaches, and nearly fluorescent green forests of Kauai. Book your flight to Lihue Airport and rent a car in Lihue to start your adventures. A Jeep or SUV car rental is perfect for seeing all the island has to offer in comfort and style. We’ve gathered a list of the top travel destinations and places to visit on an incredible Kauai Island road trip. 

 

#1. Waimea Canyon State Park

Website: https://hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/waimea-canyon-state-park/

Map: Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, 96796

Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, this top travel destination spans roughly 10 miles in length and over 3,000 feet in depth. You’ll be awed by the spectrum of colors in this canyon: the name is Hawaiian for “reddish water,” caused by erosion of the canyon’s red soil. The tropical climate creates greenery that contrasts the red-tinted waters, and beautiful waterfalls create frequent rainbows in the canyons. Explore the hiking and hunting trails that span the canyon, or enjoy a scenic drive and picnic at one of the two lookout points, Puu Ka Pele and Puu Hinahina.

 

#2. Kalapaki Beach

Website: http://www.kauai.com/kalapaki-beach

Map: Kalapaki Beach, Lihue, HI, 96766

There are countless beaches on Kauai Island. So why make this one a part of your road trip itinerary? Kalapaki Beach is unique because it’s partially protected from the open waters of the Pacific by a large break wall. This makes for calm, mellow waters perfect for families with young children or anyone looking for a relaxing dip. The beach is known for being a perfect spot to play beach volleyball or watch ships in Nawiliwili Harbor. You can also find tons of convenient beach rentals in the area and take surf lessons at any time of year.

 

#3. Wailua Falls

Website: https://www.hawaii.com/kauai/attractions/wailua-falls

Map: Wailua Falls, Hawaii, 96746

After hitting up Kalapaki Beach, you can head north in your car rental to one of the most postcard-worthy waterfalls on the island. Wailua Falls can be found near the Kalepa Mountain Forest Reserve in Hanamaulu. The falls came to fame when featured on the opening credits of “Fantasy Island,” a TV series from the 70s and 80s. Wailua Falls has continued to be one of the most popular travel destinations for its location and accessibility—you don’t have to spend hours hiking to see this spectacular sight. Simply follow the map link above, park, and enjoy the view!

 

#4. Kilauea Lighthouse

Website: http://www.kauai.com/kilauea-lighthouse

Map: Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kilauea, HI, 96754

The icon of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Kilauea Lighthouse is a beautiful road trip stop that offers great wildlife sightings and views of island cliffs and sea caves. Visitors love this spot as one of the few places to see the Red-footed Booby, Laysan Albatross, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, and other birds native to the area. If you’re lucky, you just may spot endangered species like the Hawaiian Monk Seal, Green Sea Turtle, and Humpback Whale. Check out the visitors center after your lighthouse tour, or stop off at the nearby Princeville Botanical Gardens.

 

#5. Kalalau Trail

Website: https://kalalautrail.com/

Map: Kalalau Trail, Hawaii, 96746

End your Kauai Island road trip at one of the most legendary places to visit on the island: the Kalalau Trail takes hikers to a remote, rugged part of the coast that is only accessible by trail. Those who brave the steep 11-mile hike will venture through five beautiful valleys and end on Kalalau Beach. The trail is recommended for only experienced hikers, but less experienced hikers can take on the first two miles of the trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach and then head back to get a glimpse of the trail without the full commitment.

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