Kauai’s seasons might not look quite how they do on the mainland: summer brings the dry season from May to October, while winter from November to April is considered the rainy season. Though with tropical temperatures, the weather is typically mild year-round. But no matter when you visit the Garden Isle, there’s still plenty to do. When you plan a trip to Kauai, be sure to experience these must-visit attractions for any season.
This 14-mile-long gorge drops over 3,600 feet. The red earth of Waimea Canyon gives the area its name, the translation referencing the rusty water below, colored by the canyon’s eroding soil. With the nickname the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the canyon captures you with its open views of red and green ridgelines. Take the scenic drive through Waimea Canyon State Park to several lookouts over the canyon. Or you can take Waimea Canyon Drive to its endpoint at Koke’e State Park, with plenty of vistas along the way.
Experience a guided chocolate tasting and botanical garden tour at Princeville Botanical Gardens. With chocolate and fruit to sample, as well as honey made in their onsite beehives, you’ll begin to realize what names Kauai the Garden Isle while you relish the flavors among the blossoms.
Accessed by boat—either self-paddled or with a tour—Fern Grotto is an adventurous location to visit during your time in Kauai. The trip up the Wailua River itself is worth the experience. This lava rock grotto drips with ferns, and you can take in the site from a viewing platform once you arrive.
Makauwahi Cave Reserve is a nonprofit organization sponsored by Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. Unique on a volcanic island chain. This cave is actually formed from sedimentary rock, not lava flow. Fossils preserved in the stone have shared prehistoric secrets with researchers over the years, helping scientists learn more about the flora and fauna that used to be on the island. You can hop on a free guided tour daily to explore this underground site.
Look beneath the surface of the surf and explore one of Kauai’s best year-round snorkeling spots at Salt Ponds Beach Park. While there may be other snorkeling destinations along Kauai’s North Shore that swimmers rave about, rough winter waters mean they’re much more beginner-friendly in summer. But this more protected spot on the south end of the island remains a fun place to swim and scope out the reef year-round.
Luau are an important part of the Hawaiian cultural tradition, bringing friends and family together to celebrate life milestones with food, music, and shared culture. No matter when you visit the island, be sure to seek out a traditional luau that welcomes visitors to share in this experience. Feast on a pig cooked in an earth oven, and taste your way through a variety of other Hawaiian dishes as you relax and enjoy the live music and hula dancing that tells traditional stories.
Visit Kauai any time of year, and find accommodation close to all your top stops, with bonus points for a stay that embraces regenerative practices and a homey atmosphere. Book your stay at a Starry Night vacation rental, and explore the island beyond your door.