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Budget-friendly Things to Do on Kauaʻi

Although Kauaʻi’s lifestyle is priceless, expenses–whether you are visiting or a resident–can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Kauaʻi on a budget.

Hiking on Kauai

photography by Kit Furderer

SOUTHSIDE CRUISE

There is no better way to bounce around the Poʻipū Beach area than aboard the open-air Aloha Spirit shuttle! With its thatched grass roof and faux bamboo, it resembles a tiki bar on wheels. This FREE shuttle runs on aloha (and tips.) Although there is a paid option to do a guided sunset tour, you can call the shuttle any time for a lift from point A to point B. Here are some hot spots to consider checking out:

  • Poʻipū Beach Park for snorkeling, lounging, swimming, monk seal and turtle sightings.
  • Spouting Horn to visit a natural geyser formed by lava rock.
  • The Shops at Kōloa Village and The Shops at Kukuiʻula for shopping, browsing, and dining
  • Across from the Kōloa shops, you will find a number of food trucks to choose from and enjoy beneath an enormous banyan tree. 
  • Poʻipū Shopping Village offers free live entertainment every Monday and Thursday at 5PM. Enjoy a free hula show and island music with shopping and dining options within walking distance.
  • Call the shuttle for a lift to Kukuiʻula Boat Harbor for sunset. Bring a picnic and enjoy a beautiful view to end any day on Kauaʻi.
  • National Tropical Botanical Gardens offer free hula shows on Thursdays at 12:30PM, as well as an Aloha Market from 10AM – 2PM. Full tours of the property run daily Tuesday – Saturday, and keep an eye on the events page for upcoming outdoor movie showings!

OPEN-AIR MARKETS

Browsing local open-air markets is an accessible way to support local businesses, and get familiarized with the flavors of Hawaiʻi. Weekly farmer’s markets host a variety of fresh produce, music, and fun.

Kauaʻi farmers market

Art nights are very popular as well, including:

HIKING

Hitting any of the trails on Kauaʻi is an authentic way to experience the island free of charge! In addition to our 5 Favorite Hikes on Kauaʻi, there are many more to choose from. For the casual hiker, the half-mile walk to Makauwahi Cave or a loop at Kukuiolono Park are quick and easy excursions. Moderate hikers enjoy Kuilau Ridge, Hanalei River Trail (Okolehao Viewpoint,) and Stone Dam (Wai Koa Loop.) For the experienced hiker, the Waialeale Blue Hole Falls Trail to the center of the island and the Alakai Swamp Trail in Kōkeʻe State Park are not to be missed. Both unique and challenging, Blue Hole and Alakai are well-worth the views should you be up to the task physically. As always, be sure to mālama ‘āina by always remaining on the trail, taking any rubbish with you, and preparing prior to hitting the trail. Checking the weather and packing the essentials–sunscreen, water and snacks–will ensure that your adventure is a pleasant one.

Kauaʻi surfing spots

BEACH

With only select areas on the North Shore charging for parking, the beach is primarily a free and favorite activity on Kauaʻi. The Garden Isle has a beach for everyone, from the experienced swimmer and water sportsman, to those who prefer lounging and wading. Here are a few to check out:

  • SURF BEACH

For experienced surfers and bodyboarders, Shipwreck’s is a local favorite. For beginners, Hanalei Bay is  a nice spot to get a feel for the waves. Both beaches are sand-bottomed, which is a nice perk. Kalapakī Beach is a great beginner’s surf beach with lessons readily available on-site and beach volleyball courts for more fun in the sun.

  • LOUNGE BEACH

Winding Anini Beach with its calm protected waters and optimal snorkeling conditions provides the ultimate relaxing beach experience. With the widest fringing reef in the Hawaiian Islands, snorkelers love this spot…although the water is so clear you barely need a mask to take in the sealife. Lydgate Beach Park features a fully protected swimming area for waders and floaters to enjoy the water without battling the surf.

  • SUP BEACH

Standup paddleboarding is a very popular beach activity, and we have just the beaches to try it out. Black Pot Beach is the section of Hanalei Bay between the mouth of Hanalei River, a perfect spot to try river or ocean paddleboarding. Rock Quarry (Kahili Beach Preserve) has a similar set up, with ocean on one side, and the Kīlauea River on the other. 

  • FAMILY-FRIENDLY BEACH

There are two popular beaches with tidepools and calm waters for the keiki. Both affectionately called “Baby Beach,” you can find them in both Poʻipū and Kapaʻa.

Salt Pond Beach Park has plenty of shallow keiki-friendly areas, as well as facilities, pavilions, and grills. This family favorite is an excellent place to end the day with a famous westside sunset barbeque. Māhāʻulepū Beach is not only home to shallow waters for the little ones to explore, but also a short walk to a tortoise sanctuary. The entrance fee is free anytime and the kids will love walking through the trees to spot tortoises in their natural habitat.

CHEAP EATS (AND DRINKS!)

Eating early is the best trick to get more for your buck here on Kauaʻi. Most eateries feature live music as well, so it’s a two-for-one! Here are a few of our favorites:

    • NORTH – Remodeled schoolhouse Hanalei Gourmet features happy hour daily from 5PM-close with specials to compliment the mountain view.
    • SOUTH Kalapaki Joe’s  is the self-proclaimed “westernmost sports bar in the U.S.” with two locations in Poʻipū and Līhuʻe. They feature a daily pau hana from 3PM to 6PM with $5 select cocktails, over 50 choices of beer, $.25 wings, and select $1 appetizers.
  • EAST – Sam’s Oceanview offers specials oceanside from 4PM to 6PM, Monday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • WEST -Our neighbors Kauaʻi Island Brewing Co’s daily happy hour from 3PM-5PM is not only a steal, but it comes with arcade games and pinball machines at the Port Allen location! (Second location in Kōloa Village)

Looking for more recommendations? Stop by and ask us!

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