This page contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.
A trip to Kauai is everyone’s dream, but you might think that such a vacation can get expensive. Don’t worry, here we are to show you some free and cheap things to do that fit all ages and allow you to enjoy this paradise Hawaiian island on a budget!
Enjoy spectacular beaches
Kauai’s coastline offers picturesque scenery with pristine waters and therefore it is a perfect place for a beach holiday in Hawaii.
Whether with your family or alone, spending a day at the beach will provide you with breathtaking experiences even if you are visiting Kauai on a budget. You can try water activities such as snorkeling, swimming, surfing, but if want just to relax on a beach chair and soak up some sun, you can do that too while enjoying the island’s fantastic vibe surrounded by wonderful scenery.
Most Kauai beaches offer plenty of parking and restrooms available for visitors. They are public and free, but according to a new policy, you may have to pay $10 parking fee at the most popular beaches.
The following are some of the best beaches in Kauai:
- Poipu Beach Park
- Hanalei Beach
- Anahola Beach
- Anini Beach
- Salt Pond Beach Park
Tip: Although Big Island has the most beautiful black sand beaches in Hawaii, you find one dark sandy beach on Kauai too: Waimea Bay Beach. If you have time, make sure to visit this unique location where you can enjoy fantastic sunsets!
Hike the Waimea Canyon
The breathtaking Waimea Canyon located on Kauai’s north shore is one of the island’s most popular attractions.
The Waimea Canyon State Park has many hiking trails that will take you through this impressive canyon. One of the best hikes here is the Waipoo falls trail which has many lookouts to enjoy spectacular views of the 800-foot tall Waipoo waterfall. There are also several park picnic areas and camping sites if you want to spend more time there.
It is an excellent activity for those who look for budget-friendly things to do in Kauai because the entrance fee is only $5 (free for kids under 3). Residents of Hawaii only need a state identification card to enter.
Explore the National Tropical Botanical Garden
A trip to Kauai would only be complete with a visit to the National Tropical Botanical Garden. You can enjoy it in many ways as they offer various tours at affordable prices. Child tickets usually cost between 5-15USD but there are some tours where kids can go for free.
This is a perfect program for couples looking for a romantic activity, the NTBG has a beautiful plantation estate section perfect for strolling, picnicking, and enjoying tropical flowers.
Also, the garden is a great place to go with kids. They’ll learn about Hawaii’s natural environment – especially if they’re interested in plants or animals. Some exhibits feature live animals such as birds, lizards, and spiders, but children will especially love the vast array of tropical plants that thrive on Kauai’s warm slopes and valleys.
Spend a day at Kilauea Lighthouse
Just a few miles from the main town of Lihue, this lighthouse is a great little visit for the whole family. For just a $10 entry fee (kids under 16 go free) you can enjoy this spectacularly scenic spot while taking in the sweeping vistas.
The area is also a wildlife refuge; the surrounding cliffs and slopes are breeding ground for various Hawaiian seabird species so you can also enjoy birdwatching here. It is also possible to view dolphins and humpback whales from here.
Go on a kayak adventure
Kayaking is one of the most popular low-cost activities in Kauai. It is a great way to see some of the island’s best scenery up close and personal, explore secret beaches and hidden waterfalls and get exercise while enjoying the great outdoors.
You can rent a kayak from your hotel or condo or at the beach parks along the coast and go kayaking on your own or join guided tours. Although such tours are not cheap but still affordable and take you to some of the island’s most unique places. Kauai’s best kayaking spots include the Wailua River State Park, Hanalei River and the Napali Coast.
Shop at the Coconut Marketplace
Visiting Coconut Marketplace makes a perfect family adventure offering many budget-friendly activities you should not miss in Kauai. It is a great place to go if you want to pick up some souvenirs at reasonable prices or grab something to eat.
Additionally, you can learn here how to make Lei, how to play the ukulele or how to dance hula. Classes are held several times a week, for more information check out their events calendar.
Grab local delights at Kauai Culinary Market
Support local farmers at Wednesday’s Kauai Culinary Market where you can get different Kauai-grown and made food products and goodies. You can also grab some food and drink in the beer garden where famous chefs prepare local specialties while you listen to fantastic live music. The market is open every Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm at The Shops at Kukuiula.
Take a trip to Hanapepe historic town
Kauai has many authentic towns, but none are more famous than Hanapepe. This historic village is located on Kauai’s south shore and visiting it is one of the most interesting free activities in Kauai.
Walking between the plantation-style buildings is already an adventure, moreover, the town has lovely shops selling local goods and restaurants offering fresh seafood dishes.
The town is also home to several galleries. Come on Friday evening when there is the Art Night event, where all the galleries are open so you can view local artists’ work.
When in Hanapepe, don’t miss out on visiting the town’s most popular attraction, the swinging bridge! It might seem scary at first sight because it rocks and swings, but don’t worry! The bridge is reinforced and very safe; I bet your kids will enjoy this activity!
Explore secret caves
If you are looking for a fun way to spend the day on Kauai, go off the beaten path and explore caves. The island’s hidden treasure, Makauwahi Cave is an attraction not many know about.
This massive limestone cave is the Pacific’s richest fossil site. You can look down into the sinkhole, observe native flora and take in the views of the coast and the Haupa Mountain Ridge.
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities in Kauai; the island’s waters are home to an incredible variety of sea life, including colorful tropical fish and coral reefs. To explore Hawaii’s vibrant underwater world, you don’t need to spend a lot of money; bring your own gear and you can do it for completely free!
A fantastic snorkeling spot in Kauai is Tunnels Beach. It has a beautiful reef with lots of turtles and tropical fish, moreover often Hawaiian monk seals can be seen here!
Go on a bike tour
Bike riding is among the most enjoyable but cheap things to do in Kauai. You can rent bikes at almost any hotel on the island. It is not only an excellent outdoor activity but a great way to enjoy fantastic views.
There are several biking trails all around the island at all levels. Families with kids will enjoy biking along Kauai’s east shore which is flat with no hills. Adventure seekers will love the West side where there is a downhill bike tour along Waimea Canyon.
View humpback whales
Kauai is a great place to see whales. The island’s warm waters and gentle currents make it a favorite resting place for humpback whales, which travel thousands of miles yearly from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to their birthing waters in the south Pacific.
Whale watching season runs from mid-December through April, and peak times are January through March. Although the best way to watch whales would be via boat tours, those trips can be expensive so if you are on a lower budget, you may want to try spotting them from the shore. To do so, the best places you can go are Hanalei Bay, Poipu Beach, and Kealia Beach.
Take a picnic
Picnics are among the unique things to do in Kauai without spending a dime. Just grab some sandwiches, a little dessert, a couple of bottles of water or soft drinks, and head to one of these great Kauai picnic spots:
- Poipu Beach Park offers plenty of space to spread out and enjoy your lunch. The water is shallow, so it’s safe for kids to play in the waves or the sand. There is a great sunset view here and you can see many Hawaiian sea turtles that come to rest on the beach in the evening.
- Kiahuna Plantation’s beach is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something more secluded. It is just 5 mins drive away from Poipu but less crowded making it excellent for couples and seniors who want to relax.
- Kuilau Ridge Trailhead has a picnic shelter just one mile up. It is a fairly easy but enjoyable hike.
Go wildlife watching
Wildlife spotting is a great way to enjoy Kauai’s natural beauty, and it’s free! You can easily spot wildlife as you drive along the island’s main roads, at its beaches or even on some of the walking trails.
One excellent spot to see some native species is Kokee State Park. It is home to chickens, wild pigs, dears, and goats.
If you’re into birds or want to learn more about them, Kauai is heaven for birdwatching enthusiasts too. A wide variety of birds can be spotted in their natural habitat like hummingbirds, finches, warblers, and the state bird of Hawaii, the Nene Goose.
Try out local foods
Kauai is a paradise for food and it would be a shame to miss out on trying traditional Hawaiian dishes that are made with fresh local ingredients.
The best (and most affordable) way to do this is by visiting farmers markets where you can get some locally grown fruit, vegetables, and homemade delights such as jams, sauces, and baked goods at low prices.
You can also find roadside stands along significant roads. Most have plenty of seating areas to relax with snacks and drinks while enjoying the scenery. Should you go for a restaurant dinner, try local Kauai dishes like Lomilomi salmon (salted raw salmon served with tomatoes and onions) and Huli huli chicken (Hawaii-style barbeque chicken).
Enjoying fun and adventurous activities in Kauai is possible without breaking the bank! There are plenty of free things to do that won’t cost you a single cent, while others that are affordable and usually under $10. This list should help get your creative juices flowing for what you want to do on your next trip to the great outdoors.
Inspired? Pin it!