On the east coast of Kauai rests its most prominent county and the hub for its transportation and commercial activities. Lihue comes alive every year with hundreds of passionate locals, their customs, and vibrant culture. Lihue is a place where warm breezes and beaches accompany the warm residents for an unforgettable time.
The nearby Kalapaki Beach is home to many sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers. It's the perfect coastline for water sport activities with the little ones, to work up a tan, or to try your skills in the surf.
The history of Kauai is as old as time itself - or so the narratives and artifacts woven together at the Kauai Museum would have you believe. Stop by to take in its origins as a former sugar plantation, a home to royals and naval expeditions, with guided tours.
Prepare to set aside an entire evening to partake in this special occasion, beginning with Hawaiian crafts and the Imu Ceremony. As you dine, hula dancers and local musicians perform the luau and reenact ancient Hawaiian legends.
Here you'll find dancing, pool, and lots of willing karaoke participants. This is the spot to be, whether you want to just soak it all in or take center stage.
Along with a rum distillery and a ceramics shop, the historical and restored 1930s mansion also houses several galleries, boutiques, and a historic train.
Kalapaki Beach is one of Hawaii's quaint islands in Lihue, Kauai. If you love to bask in the sun, drink coconut water and relax away from crowds, Kalapaki Beach is perfect. Every crevice you turn to, you'll find someone swimming, sailing, surfing or playing volleyball. Watch sailboat races at the Nawiliwili Harbor or go on a Grand Deluxe Tour onboard a G8 AirVan. You'll get a bird's-eye view of Waimea Canyon, Hanalei Bay and the Hanalei Valleys' waterfall.
The Kilohana Plantation is one of Hawaii's most prestigious historic landmarks. The 36-acre estate offers rainforest hikes and a spa to relax in after. Take the family on a 40-minute narrated train ride tour of fruit tree orchards, rare and exotic tropical flowers, donkeys, geese and more. Stop to feed the plantation's wild pigs, goats and sheep. For adults, Gaylord's Restaurant has an open courtyard where you can dine and dance to live music.
The Main Gallery located in the Wilcox Building exhibits sunken ship artifacts dating back to 1824. The Heritage Gallery has portraits throughout the Ali`i Gallery of explorers and the Hawaiian Monarchy. In the Rice Building, the Plantation Village Gallery exhibits tales of sugar plantation tales dating back to 1900. At the Missionary Gallery, you'll become enthralled by the history of the first Missionary families to Kaua`i & Ni`ihau. The museum also hosts fun events such as Hula and Haku Lei classes.
Located in the Wailua River State Park in Kauai County, this famous double-tiered waterfall is adjacent to the parking lot, so it's easily accessible within walking distance. It's an amazing scenic bird's-eye view from above. Even though there are hiking trails near the waterfall, visitors are advised not to climb the steep trail to the bottom because of the eminent dangers caused by the slippery and muddy ground. For those who want to swim under the waterfalls, there is a plunge pool at its base opened to the public.
As one of the most beautiful state parks, Nāpali Coast offers boat tours, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking and sightseeing amidst its cliffs, deep and tight valleys, waterfalls, streams and stone-walled terraces. Camping is by permit only and you can hike up to Hanakapi'ai without a permit. You'll be completely away from civilization. With no cell phone coverage, you won't be able to use your cell phone. Bathrooms come in the form of composting toilets located at various locations throughout the park. There are also rain shelters at Hanakoa and Miloli'i, and with no trash service, you must take your trash with you. If you love the outdoors, you'll be in wilderness heaven.
The climate in Lihue is typical of Kauai. September and November or April to June are the most enjoyable times to visit, when temperatures are in the mid-80s. Winter, from December to March, sees a lot of rain with temperatures in the mid-70s.
To get into Lihue, you'll land at Lihue Airport. From there, you can use a taxi to get to other parts of Kauai.
There are no trains getting into Lihue. There is, however, the Kauai Plantation Railway, which is a ride that goes through farms, specifically for travelers once they're on the island.
Inter-island travel is easy. Use highway 50 if you're coming from the north and west and take highway 56 if you're driving from the east or the south.
Buses coming in to Kauai run Monday to Friday and there is no service on the weekends. Because Lihue is a county in Kauai, you must use the Kauai Bus service. Buses between cities cost $2 for a single fare, one-way, with multiple stops in-between.
Luxury lovers will love the pools and amenities at The Kauai Inn. For modest accommodations, pick Kauai Palms Hotel. Budget travelers will experience great hospitality at Honu'ea International Hostel Kauai.
Kilauea - the site of the Kilauea active shield volcano, the youngest of the active volcanoes at 300,000 to 600,000 years old.
Kapahi - is a popular residential neighborhood with local schools and markets, as well as many long-term vacation rental homes.
Kekaha - is situated on the far west side of Kauai, featuring the Kekaha Beach and is the starting point for the longest stretch of white sand beach in Kauai.
You can choose to rent a bike or use the Kauai Bus. A single fare costs $2 for the mainline and $0.50 for the shuttle. If you're staying long-term, grab a pass for $40/month from the Lihue Civic Center.
There are lots of local taxis for hire. Look for a dome or a sign at the top of the car as this is legally required. There are two rates: rate 1 is $3 for the first mile and $3/mile thereafter. Rate 2 is $120 for 2 hours minimum, and $15 for every 15 minutes thereafter.
Car rentals are available from local companies like Enterprise. Expect daily rates starting at $48-$52.50.
For lovers of local boutiques and vintage trolley tours, head to Harbor Mall. Those who love brand name retail will find what they're looking for at Rice Shopping Center.
A quart of milk is quite affordable at $1.57 per quart. A dozen eggs will cost you $3.96.
Of course, there are lots of great restaurants in Lihue but if you love street food, head first to the Hamura's Saimin Stand on Kress St. Grab Saimin soup (the Hawaiian noodle soup classic) with the extra fixings like hard-boiled egg and veggies and lilikoi chiffon pie. Depending on size, the average price for two to dine is $25.