Top 10 Things to Do in Kauai for Free (Or Almost Free)

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It’s actually possible to find free things to do during your Hawaii vacation, even if you don’t want to sit on the beach your entire time here. We’ve got the top things to do in Kauai for free that are lots of fun.

Do you see a trend emerging here? I’m always looking for a good deal, and I’m scouring the Hawaiian Islands on my mission to find the best free things for you to do during your vacation. I recently wrote about 10 Free Things To Do On Hawaii Island, as well as 8 Free Things To Do On Oahu.

Today, I’m back with ten free things to do on Kauai. Ok, some of these things aren’t totally free. Recently, some state parks have been charging per-person fees to help maintain trails and control crowds. Still, everything on this list is under $10, a sharp contrast to some Kauai activities that run hundreds of dollars a person.

So here are the top things to do in Kauai for free (or almost free). And don’t worry, they aren’t all going to the beach or hiking, though those will forever be our favorite things to do on this lush, scenic island.

1. See Waimea Canyon

This Oahu attraction tops my list, even though there is a small fee for non-residents (anyone who doesn’t live in Hawaii). At $5 per person, I still count this one as nearly-free. 

Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is ten miles long and up to 3,600 feet deep. Rivers and floods from the summit of Mount Waialeale began carving the canyon thousands of years ago.

The canyon is also home to the Waimea River. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water,” and, indeed, the water has a reddish tint to it.

When you drive to the canyon, you will see waterfalls popping out against the backdrop of the gorge, as its colors change from reds to browns to greens. You can drive right up to two lookout points that offer incredible views, including the stunning Kalalau Lookout. 

You can park, walk around, and marvel at the beauty of Waimea Canyon.
There are also many hikes within the park – we like the Alakai Swamp Trail, which takes you through the thick rainforest. 

Your one admission will grant you access to both Waimea Canyon State Park and Kōkeʻe State Park, along with the natural history museum and scenic overlooks. 

2. Take a Coffee Tour (with Samples!)

With more and more gardens and farms (understandably) charging for access, visiting Kauai Coffee Company is a real treat. They offer free self-guided walking tours through their coffee farm, which is located in Kalaheo, Kauai.

I exclusively drink coffee from the Kauai Coffee Company at home. I order it in bulk and use it to make cold brew coffee in the summer and hot coffee during Hawaii’s rainy season. 

So, whenever I go to Kauai, I absolutely must make a stop at the Kauai Coffee Company to try their coffee and to see what’s new. 

Lucky for me, you can taste as much of their estate-grown Hawaiian coffees as you like. 

During your walking tour, you will see five different coffee varieties and learn how the coffee is grown, harvested, processed, and roasted in Kauai.

Every Wednesday, Kauai Coffee Company also hosts a Scavenger Hunt. This scavenger hunt will challenge you to take pictures at some amazing places throughout the island, some of which you might not have found on your own. The first five teams completing the race will be treated to lunch at the Kauai Coffee Estate. Every participating team that comes to the Kauai Coffee Estate will receive a free bag of Kauai Coffee.

3. See Waterfalls at Wailua River State Park

Entering Wailua River State Park is free, and there are many things to do and see here.
There are two beautiful waterfalls to check out: ‘Opaeka‘a Falls and Wailua Falls. You can also visit the Wailua Complex of Heiau, a National Historic Landmark. This is a sacred place with remains from several important sites: places of worship (heiau), places of refuge (puʻuhonua), and royal sites.

Wailua River State Park is ADA Accessible and has a concession stand, picnic tables, a restroom, and water fountains. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy this free park!

4. Witness Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn is a blowhole located near Poipu, and it’s a natural wonder. This is one of Kauai’s most photographed spots, so definitely bring your camera along for this free Kauai activity. 

Spouting Horn is formed inside a lava tube. When the lava tube gets flooded, spouts of water come up through the holes in the top, creating the blowhole. It’s loud and tall and really mesmerizing to watch, especially as you wait for the perfect wave to hit the lava tube.

Legend has it that a giant lizard named Kaikapu once guarded the area. He would eat anyone who came into his territory. One day, a young boy decided to outwit the lizard by shoving a sharp stick into its mouth. The boy then escaped through a lava tube. Kaikapu got stuck in the lava tube trying to find the boy. The blowhole’s sound is said to be the roar of the lizard.

Although the amount of water you will see depends on the weather conditions, this is a great little spot to check out. There is also a market there that sells Hawaiian gifts.

5. Enjoy Free Entertainment at Poipu Shopping Village

Looking for luau-quality entertainment without having to go to a full luau? Head over to Poipu Shopping Village for free entertainment each Monday and Thursday. There are Hula Performances alongside live music. 

Entertainment begins at 5 PM in their central courtyard. Poipu Shopping Village is a great place to shop and eat, and it’s close to two of our favorite things to do in Kauai for free: Spouting Horn and Kauai Coffee Company. 

6. Walk or Drive the Koloa Heritage Trail

Koloa Heritage Trail is probably one of the most underrated places in Kauai. This amazing place is a self-guided 10-mile trail. You’ll walk through a series of 14 stops spanning 5 million years of history. At each stop, there is educational information. You can walk or bike, and many sites are also accessible by car.

Stops on the trail include Spouting Horn Park, Prince Kuhio Birthplace & Park, Hanaka’ape Bay and Koloa Landing, Pa’u A Laka (gardens), Kihahouna Heiau (the remains of a temple), Poipu Beach Park, Keoneloa Bay, Makaweh and Pa’a Dunes, Pu’uwanawana Volcanic Cone, Hapa Road (which served as a supply and emergency evacuation route during World War II), Koloa Jodo Mission (a Buddhist temple), Sugar Monument, Yamamoto Store & Koloa Hotel, and Koloa Missionary Church.

There is so much history to see and learn about here, and it’s all free for everyone to access!

7. Hike the Na Pali Coast on the Kalalau Trail

There are several ways to see the Na Pali Coast, one of Kauai’s most famous attractions.

But the Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this mystical part of Kaui. At $5 per person (plus a per-car parking fee), this isn’t a free thing to do in Kauai, but it’s definitely cheaper than other touristy attractions.

Once you secure your online entry pass and reservation for Hāʻena State Park, you can hike from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai, which is two miles each way. This is the most popular route for many people because it gives you excellent views of the coast and leads you to a beautiful beach.
Please remember that swimming or wading at Hanakapi’ai Beach is extremely dangerous, so do not enter the water.

More experienced hikers might want to hike from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach, and then continue to Hanakapi’ai Falls. The trail from the beach to the waterfall is two miles each way and is not maintained. This is an 8-mile round-trip hike that you should only attempt if you’re an experienced and fit hiker. 

Those who want to hike the entire 11-mile trail Kalalau Beach (one way) need a camping permit and gear. Note that this trail is extremely hazardous and should only be attempted by the most experienced hikers. 

8. Visit Kauai’s Hindu Monastery

Kauai’s Hindu Monastery is located in Kapaa, and it’s an inspiring place to visit. Access to the temple is reserved for personal meditation and worship, but the outside grounds and gift shop are open to the public from 9 AM to noon most days. 

You can take a self-guided tour of the grounds to see an intricate pavilion, a sacred pool, and an overlook of the Wailua River.

The Monastery welcomes visitors, but please visit their website for rules and to learn what is off-limits to visitors. For example, guests are asked to wear traditional Hindu or modest clothing.

All are welcome to meditate under the banyan tree, explore the information panels, and browse through the publications in the Mini-Mela visitor center. Always plan to come in the morning.

9. Go to the Beach – Always the Best Things to do on Kauai for Free

Of all the things to do in Kauai for free, this is the one that is impossible to skip. Almost all of Kauai’s beach parks are free to visit, and you can’t beat spending a day on Hawaii’s scenic shorelines. 

Some of our favorite beaches in Kauai are Poipu Beach Park in Poipu, Anini Beach near Princeville, and Hanalei Bay in Hanalei. 

If conditions are safe, be sure to swim, snorkel, or body surf at these great spots. Bring along a picnic lunch and homemade snacks to keep this activity as low-cost as possible. 

10. Walk Along the Island’s Eastern Coast

Ke Ala Hele Makalae is a multi-mile coastal pathway that stretches from Lydgate Beach Park to Kuna Bay. This will put your hometown’s greenway to shame, as you’ll be graced with terrific views and fresh salt air as you stroll along the path. 

Bikes are available to rent, but it’s walkable if you want to keep this a completely free activity. Along the way, plaques mark significant sites, like old plantations, canneries, and other historic places. This is a great place for whale watching in the winter months, and you’ll likely see an array of wildlife and flowers year-round. 

There are multiple access points along the trail, so you don’t have to commit to the entire walk. 

Discovering the Best Things to Do in Kauai for Free

I truly believe that some of the best things in life are free, and your trip to Hawaii can be affordable. If you want more help planning your Hawaiian vacation on a budget, call Hawaii Aloha Travel today. We work with people with various budgets and interests, and we would be happy to help you make your dreams of a vacation in paradise a reality.