Located in the beautiful Central Pacific, Kauai is one of the islands that make up Hawaii. Nicknamed The Garden Isle, Kauai is best known for its tropical rainforests and lush vegetation. Visitors come to Kauai to enjoy the great outdoors.
There are so many different activities to enjoy when visiting Kauai, several of them being free to experience. Visit the Napali Coast and hike up the Kalalau Trail in Koke’e State Park. Relax on one of the stunning beaches or take a swim in the ocean.
While you are exploring Kauai for free, leave your bags in a luggage locker so you can move easily across the island. Don’t let heavy backpacks and large items slow you down.
Get ready to see Kauai! Pack your swimsuit, suntan lotion, and towel for a few days of soaking up the sun.
Waimea Canyon/Koke’e State Park
Koke’e State Park is home to Waimea Canyon which has been nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, a spectacular sight that is 14 miles long and over a mile wide. The canyon is about 3,600 feet deep and is a sight you cannot miss while touring!
Lace up your hiking boots and make your way through the park to Waimea Canyon or hop in a car and head to one of the lookouts along Koke’e Road. The most popular lookout points are the Puu Hinahina and the Waimea Canyon.
There are also several trailheads leading through the park. You can hike along the Waipo’o Falls Trail or the Cliff Trail, but be sure to bring along your hiking pack for safe trekking in the park.
While admission to the park is free, you can sign up for walking tours or helicopter tours that do charge a set fee. Admission to Waimea Canyon is also free. If you are feeling adventurous, you can camp in the park but there is a fee at the campground.
Located on Kauai’s north shore in Wainiha, Tunnels Beach is one of the best places on Kauai for snorkeling. The reef along Tunnels Beach is rather expansive and has small sea caves and tunnels to explore when snorkeling.
Search for colorful coral; enjoy watching vibrant fish and sea turtles swim by when you are underwater. You may even get to see one of the Hawaiian monk seals that are native to the area.
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You do not have to go snorkeling when at Tunnels Beach. Sit and watch the waves or take a leisurely stroll along the palm tree-lined shore. Take a refreshing swim, but do not go in the water if lifeguards are not on duty.
Polihale State Park
Head over to the west coast of Kauai and visit Polihale State Park, the closest beach to the Napali Coast. You can even stand on the northern edge of the beach and see the cliffs of the Napali Coast.
Polihale State Park has 17 miles of surf and sand that while popular, are rarely overcrowded because the area is so big. The road leading to the beach is a dirt path that stretches five miles and most car rental companies do not allow you to drive this road.
The views of the beach are incredibly picturesque. Marvel at the rolling waves and high cliffs towering over soft sands and sloping dunes. Pack a picnic and stay the entire day at Polihale State Park. You can camp here, but it will cost you a small fee.
You cannot swim at Polihale Beach; however you can swim at Queen’s Pond in the park. The water conditions at Polihale Beach are too rough even for experienced swimmers.
Ke’e Beach is one of the safest places to find great views of the Napali Coast. Located at the Kalalau trailhead, this is where you can see panoramic views of the cliffs along the Napali Coast.
It is safe to swim and snorkel at Ke’e Beach when lifeguards are on duty. There are modern restrooms and showers for beachgoers to use so you can spend the entire day lounging at the beach. One thing to remember, there is no cell service here.
Ke’e Beach is a popular spot, especially with tourists because of the fantastic views and lifeguards on duty for swimming and snorkeling fun. Parking can be a nightmare since there is only one parking lot for the beach and trailhead to share.
One of the most beautiful spots in Kauai is the Napali Coast, 17 miles of steep, rocky cliffs along the northwest shore of the island. You can easily hike to this destination for free. Or you can hop on a boat and see it from the water, but this will cost you a small fee.
You can also take a helicopter tour, but again, it does cost a fee to see the Napali Coast from the air. There are no roads that lead to the coast so you have to go on foot along the Kalalau Trail if you want to see this amazing place for free.
Only experienced hikers in great physical shape should attempt the Kalalau Trail as it is a very steep and rocky climb to get to the Napali Coast. You do have to have a permit to hike the Kalalau Trail unless you only go as far as the Hanakapi’ai Valley.
Poipu Beach Park
You can visit Kauai’s most popular beaches for free. Poipu Beach Park is home to one of the best beaches on the island and is on the southern shore of Kauai. The calm waters and white sand beckon you to stay and soak up the sun.
Poipu Beach Park is located near the Poipu resort and is the place to go for locals and tourists. Families come to this beach because of the calm waters. Palms provide plenty of shade. Enjoy snorkeling and boogie boarding at Poipu Beach.
If you visit between December and May, you may be able to spot humpback whales as this is their migrating season. The Hawaiian monk seals also like to sun themselves on the sandbar in the middle of the beach.
Explore the natural wonders that make Kauai such a special place without costing you a dime. There are so many fun and exciting places to see that do not have an admission fee and you can feel like you are one with nature.