As residents of Maui, you may think we’re immune to the idea of ‘vacation’. What could we possibly want to get away from? Do we really need to fly somewhere else to find what we’re looking for, especially when it’s another tropical island in the same island chain?

Well, like anyone who’s lived in the same place long enough can attest, sometimes we all need a change of scenery. And Kauai, for us, may just be the best place to do that.

best of Kauai

With landscapes that look more like postcards than reality, and remote, uncrowded hiking trails, beaches, waterfalls, and open land, we love to explore our aloha neighbor, The Garden Isle.

But where is the best places to stay on Kauai?

Although Kauai is on the smaller side, it’s important to know the best areas to call home based on your interests and travel goals.

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South Side

With a stipulation that no buildings can be taller than a coconut tree, the south shore boasts some of the nicest beaches and predictably nice weather throughout the seasons.

things to do on Kauai

Head to the popular town of Poipu to enjoy beachside vacation rentals, small shops, and excellent scenery, and visit historic Koloa Town for a charming afternoon of sightseeing and relaxation.

Poipu South Kauai

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North Side

When you picture ‘The Garden Isle’, the north shore is probably what comes to mind. With sweeping views of white sand bays, taro fields, ocean cliffs, valleys and lush mountains, nature lovers should definitely consider an extended stay on the north shore.

Where to stay in Kauai?

Surfers will love the waves during winter months, while snorkeling and swimming are ideal in summer months at places like Tunnels Beach.

North Shore Kauai

For hiking enthusiasts, the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coastline is a once in a lifetime adventure. And for those that want to explore the Na Pali in the easiest, yet most-thorough way, go by boat!  A lot of boat tours take you here, but you want to leave from Hanalei.  We departed from the southwest side, and it was a long, rough ride.  We recommend Na Pali Snorkeling Tours.

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East Side

Wailua and Kapa’a, two of Kauai’s most popular town, offer a convenient central location to other areas of the island if you plan on exploring a lot of the island.

Kauai regions

Head to Lydgate Beach Park to enjoy calm ocean conditions, or browse local shops, restaurants and more while enjoying attractions like river cruises along Wailua River and the stunning Opaeka’a Falls.

west Kauai

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West Side

The west shore is perfect for those looking to explore The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, also known as Waimea Canyon. Take a drive or hike to experience the rugged landscape of these colorful canyons, and Polihale, Hawaii’s longest beach.

West Kauai Hawaii

While much of this area remains undeveloped, it is ideal for a day adventure and to learn more about the history of the island.

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Kauai is absolutely stunning, and definitely worth a visit if you plan on coming to the Hawaiian Islands. We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the areas of the island, and mahalo for reading!

Mahalo to Natalie Brown Photography for many of these photos.