Located on the east coast of Kauaʻi, Wailuā is famous for its close proximity to some of the island’s most popular outdoor attractions. The town is divided into two sections, separated by Nounou Mountain, nicknamed the "Sleeping Giant" because of its distinctive shape. Take the Nounou Trail up to the peak to enjoy panoramic views of Wailuā and the surrounding landscape, before exploring the area’s many other outdoor attractions.
Much of the area’s outdoor fun revolves around the Wailuā River, the only navigable river in Hawaiʻi. Rent a kayak and paddle along a shoreline dotted with ruins and archaeological sites that provide a glimpse into Hawaii’s ancient past. Take a boat tour to explore Fern Grotto. With ferns hanging overhead and waterfall mist hanging in the air, it’s easy to see why this lava cave is a popular filming location.
Nearby are Wailuā Falls, a towering 80-foot (25-meter) high triple waterfall that creates a dramatic effect in its heavily forested setting. Adventurous visitors can walk down a short trail to the base of the falls. If you’re traveling by car, admire the view from an overlook along the road. Pack a picnic lunch and head to Opaekaʻa Falls, another natural wonder that sits along the Wailuā River.
After exploring the lush rain forest landscapes of the inland, head to the coast to enjoy the attractions of the Pacific. Lydgate Beach Park features clean shores and prime oceanfront access. The calm waters make it a popular snorkeling spot for beginners. Head a little bit further out to surf the area’s waves. Rock walls were built into the beach, creating small swimming pools that are ideal for children.
After enjoying the sun for the afternoon, ride along the bike path to coastal Wailuā, where you can enjoy a fresh-caught seafood dinner. Bars often feature live music and offer a relaxed nightlife setting.
Wailuā is about a 10-minute drive north of Lihue Airport. Public transportation is limited, so renting a car or motorbike will ensure you get the most from your visit.