Drive Around Kauai the Gorgeous Garden Isle

By Coco Zickos
Drive around Kauai. View from Kalalau Lookout. Photo: Ron Cogswell.

View from Kalalau Lookout. Photo: Ron Cogswell.

Sightseeing on Kaua‘i is as easy as hopping in your rental and driving from one end of the highway to the other. You’ll be blown away by the changes in scenery, from mountains and waterfalls to stretches of gorgeous beaches. Driving completely around Kaua‘i can be accomplished in one day if you’re ambitious; the highway forms a semi-circle and takes about two-and-a-half hours to traverse.  However, it’s best to spread out your time if you really want to soak in all the treasures along the way.

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Delight Your Senses on Kauai’s North Shore

Drive around Kauai. Ke'e State Beach Park. Photo: Robert Linsdell.

Ke’e State Beach Park. Photo: Robert Linsdell.

The northern end of the highway stops at Ke‘e Beach. This is a picturesque place to capture photos of the Nā Pali Coast and watch alluring waves crash along the coastline. Taking North Shore sights in by car will delight your senses with some of the most up-close-and-personal views of Kaua‘i’s majestic mountains.

drive around Kauai

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Carlton C., Hawaii.com Member.

Before leaving this side of Kaua‘i, you must take a detour to the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.  It’s the northernmost point of the state and is home to hundreds of native seabirds as well as a historic lighthouse.

Photograph Waterfalls on Kauai’s East Side

Drive around Kauai. Opaekaa Falls. Photo: Robert Linsdell.

Opaekaa Falls. Photo: Robert Linsdell.

Cruising further along the highway southbound you’ll be greeted with beautiful East Side beaches like Kealia and, depending on the time of year, humpback whales. Wailua is just a short distance from here which is home to ‘Ōpaeka‘a Falls, one of the most easily accessible and photogenic waterfalls on the island.

Be Enchanted by the Untouched Wilderness of Waimea Canyon

Drive around Kauai. Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Waimea Canyon. Photo: prayitno.

Continue traveling westward and you’ll pass the sleepy town of Waimea where one of Kaua‘i’s most spectacular scenic views waits. The Waimea Canyon State Park, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, provides visitors with enchanting views of the Garden Isle’s untouched wilderness. Aside from the many scenic points available as you climb more than 3,000-feet, there are plenty of places to travel here by foot into the depths of this uninhabited region where native flora and fauna still reside.

Finish Your Drive Around Kauai at Polihale Beach

Drive around Kauai. polihale beach

Polihale State Park. Photo: Garden State Hiker.

If you’re inclined to reach the western end of Kaua‘i by car and willing to brave a potholed dirt road, then Polihale State Park is a must. This location offers a remote, white sand beach that connects with the Nā Pali Coast. It’s the perfect place to conclude a busy day of driving.  The colorful sunsets here are divine.

Don’t forget – special rental car discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

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