Staying in Poipu Kauai for your next Hawaiian vacation? Scroll to find out the best things to do in Poipu for families, couples, adventurers and more!
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Out of all the places to stay on Kauai, one of the most popular resort towns is Poipu on the South Shore of Kauai.
Poipu is known as the “sunny side” of the island and it’s one of the best places for Kauai snorkeling, shopping, dining, or just relaxing on the beach.
It’s located just 20 minutes from the Lihue Airport and it’s very easy to get to by rental car or resort shuttle.
Keep scrolling for our favorite Poipu attractions and activities!
Poipu Kauai FAQs
Poipu is located on the South Shore of Kauai, about 20 minutes from Lihue Airport.
It’s pronounced poy-POO.
Yes, in fact it’s one of the safest beaches in Hawaii for families. There’s a lifeguard on duty 7 days a week. But, remember to check ocean conditions and never turn your back on a wave.
25 Awesome Things to do in Poipu, Kauai
1. See Spouting Horn
I have to list Spouting Horn first because it’s one of the biggest Kauai tourist attractions in Poipu, just minutes from most Poipu resorts.
Basically, the ocean water bursts through a small opening in a lava shelf and it creates a 50 foot tall gush of water out of a blowhole. While there are other blowholes in Hawaii, Spouting Horn is the most famous.
You’ll want to check the weather and the tide, as that can greatly impact whether the water will shoot up really high or if you’ll just get a little burst of water.
There are also tons of vendors at Spouting Horn selling all kinds of Kauai souvenirs.
Insider tip: Go at sunset and the golden light will make the spray shine with all the colors of the rainbow!
2. Snorkel at Poipu Beach Park
Out of all the places to snorkel on Kauai, Poipu Beach is a popular snorkeling spot for beginners. That’s because the water is super calm and easy for families with kids of all ages.
It’s also an awesome spot to see Hawaiian Sea Turtles (also known as Honu) swimming in the water or sunbathing on the beach.
You can snorkel on your own, or you can book a Poipu snorkeling tour to go with an expert.
3. Eat at Puka Dog
One of our favorite casual places to eat in Poipu is Puka Dog at Brennecke’s. We’ve been coming here for years (when they were at their Poipu Shopping Village location) and it’s always excellent, especially with kids.
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Basically, they poke a hole (also called a “puka” in Hawaiian) in a bun, shove a hot dog or Polish dog in there, and then squirt specialty Hawaiian mustard and relish inside. It’s the tastiest hot dog I’ve ever had.
Not only was it featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Hawaii, but it was also chosen as one of the Top 10 Hot Dog Stands in America by The Travel Channel.
There are tons of places to sit and eat at their stand or you can take it to go and enjoy it at a beach.
4. Explore The Shops at Kukui’ula
One of the newest (and most impressive) places to shop on Kauai is The Shops at Kukui’ula. This outdoor shopping center has lots of boutiques, restaurants, and even a natural foods store.
Some of my favorite shops include SoHa Living (which has the cutest Hawaiian home decor), Malie Organics (which makes the most amazing organic bath and body products) and Sand Kids (which has the coolest Hawaiian toys and kids products.)
And you’ll definitely need to grab a Mai Tai at Merriman’s as well as dinner at Kiawe Roots.
Plus, every Wednesday they have a Kauai Culinary Market that includes a farmers market, live Hawaiian music, and food demonstrations.
5. Go Golfing
If you’re looking to play golf on Kauai, Poipu has 3 amazing golf course to choose from.
Kiahuna Golf Club is a challenging golf course that includes the remnants of an ancient Hawaiian village into its design. Plus, you can enjoy lunch at Paco’s Tacos, a popular place to eat in Poipu.
If you are traveling to Kauai with kids who want to golf or are short on time, consider playing at Kukuiolono Golf Course. This semi-private 9-hole course in Kalaheo has 2 sets of tees for different skill levels.
And if you are looking for an oceanfront championship golf course, look no further than Poipu Bay Golf Course. You’ll get breathtaking views and the chance to see Hawaii’s state bird: the Nene Goose!
6. Shave Ice at Waikomo
It’s located in a little strip mall and it’s easy to drive right past it. But, it’s totally worth a stop! They have all-natural organic syrups and can top your shave ice with fresh fruit.
Plus, you can order your shave ice in a souvenir coconut bowl, which is a huge hit with kids!
7. Tour a Coffee Plantation
If you love Hawaiian coffee, you’ll definitely want to stop at Kauai Coffee. With more than 4 million coffee trees, they are the largest coffee grower in the United States!
Stop by their estate to do a self-guided walking tour to learn more about how coffee is grown and harvested. And take a peek at their museum to see old photos and antique coffee machinery.
But, the biggest reason to visit Kauai Coffee is to take advantage of their free coffee samples and to stock up on the ones you like!
Plus, they have an amazing gift shop with a great selection of Kauai gifts and clothing.
8. See a Free Hula Show
One of the best free things to do in Poipu is to see an authentic Hula dance show at Poipu Shopping Village.
There’s a little outdoor performance space in the middle of the shopping center where you can sit and listen to the exciting drum beats and watch professional hula dancers perform with live Hawaiian music.
It’s fun for the whole family and it’s perfect for kids who can’t sit through an entire luau performance.
9. Spa Day
Head over to the Grand Hyatt Kauai and enjoy a luxurious spa day at Anara Spa, the largest spa on Kauai.
They incorporate traditional Hawaiian elements into their massages, facials, and body treatments. Plus, they have a full hair and nail salon.
You can even get a romantic couples massage in a private bungalow near the beach!
10. Day Trip to Waimea Canyon
Hop in the car and drive about 1 hour to get to Waimea Canyon, one of Kauai’s biggest attractions. It’s nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it’s simply stunning.
Park your car and head over to the viewing platform to get an epic view of the canyon and take your photos. You’ll even be able to see a waterfall!
If you are looking for an adventure, there’s tons of cool hiking trails to do there with lots of great photo ops. In fact, it’s one of the top places for hikes near Poipu.
And if you don’t want to drive, you can take a guided tour of Waimea Canyon.
11. Shop at Warehouse 3540
One of the trendiest places to shop on Kauai is Warehouse 3540. It’s a space for local Kauai artisans to sell their handmade items, including clothing, beauty products, baby items, and artwork.
My favorite places include Ivy & Co., Hawaii Says Hi, and Workshop.
It’s also an awesome place to grab lunch. They have several food trucks, including Kickshaw’s (which makes an insanely delicious burger!)
And they even have a shave ice stand called The Fresh Shave where they give you a little straw with a mustache!
12. Take Silly Photos at the Hawaiian Trading Post
One of my favorite places to go on Kauai is the Hawaiian Trading Post in Lawai. It’s just down the street from Warehouse 3540 and it’s a store that sells Hawaiian gifts and the highly coveted Niihau shell necklaces.
However, we mainly go there to take advantage of the awesome photo ops!
There’s a surfboard and fake wave setup that’s always a hit with my kids. Plus, there’s a giant pineapple, tiki statues, and a beach scene with Adirondack chairs.
It’s definitely one of the most Instagrammable spots on Kauai!
13. Go to a Luau
If you are staying in Poipu, there are several Kauai luaus that don’t require a very long drive.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai has their own on-site luau with an assortment of Asian and Hawaiian food, plenty of drinks, and an incredible show featuring dances from Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand and Hawaii.
One of the newest luaus on Kauai is Auli’i Luau at the Sheraton Kauai Resort. This is Kauai’s only oceanfront luau and people love the tropical cocktails, buffet dinner, and amazing Polynesian show.
14. Explore Old Koloa Town
For a cutesy and historic place to shop, head to Old Koloa Town. These sugar plantation-era storefronts are perfect for window shopping or picking up a few gifts to bring back home.
Some of my favorite Old Koloa Town shops are Koloa Trading Post and Emperor’s Emporium for souvenirs and Crazy Shirts for adult and kids clothing.
They also have a nice coffee shop called Aloha Roastery where you can get a specialty coffee to sip as you walk around the shops.
One of the most jaw-dropping sights on Kauai is the Na Pali Coast. It’s not accessible by car, so you either need to hike in or take a helicopter ride to see it.
However, my favorite view of the Na Pali Coast is actually from the water.
There are a bunch of different Na Pali Coast boat tours, but I suggest doing a snorkeling cruise. That way, you can still gaze at the jagged sea cliffs, lush green valleys, and waterfalls, but you can also get in the water to see dolphins and Hawaiian sea turtles!
Book your Na Pali Coast Snorkel Boat Tour
16. Go Ziplining
Another fun thing to do on Kauai is going ziplining. You’ll get an adrenaline rush as you fly over the jungle to get amazing views of Kauai.
The longest zipline on Kauai is in Koloa. They have 8 different zipline tracks where you can either use handlebars or their hands-free harness (which allows you to do acrobatic stunts!)
Book your Koloa Zipline Adventure
If you are looking to swim in one of the most private waterfalls on Kauai, while going on a thrilling adventure, hop in an ATV for the ride of your life!
You’ll pop on some goggles and a helmet and drive through historic sights like WWII bunkers, movie sites in Kipu Valley, before heading to a small waterfall at the base of Kahili.
You’ll have plenty of time to swim in the waterfall pool while chatting with your tour guides and enjoying a small snack.
Book your Kauai ATV Waterfall tour
18. Explore Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden
Two of the prettiest places on Kauai also happen to be part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden network.
And movie fans will love seeing the huge Moreton Bay Fig Trees from Jurassic Park!
They even offer hula shows and outdoor movies from time to time, so check their events schedule.
19. Go Whale Watching
If you are heading to Kauai during the winter months of December-May, you are in for a real treat! This is when the humpback whales come to Hawaii!
There are tons of Kauai whale watching tours and excursions to choose from and this is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Kauai in the winter. Listen to their sweet whale songs or simply watch these majestic creatures pop up from the ocean.
Book your Kauai Whale Watching tour
21. Learn to Surf
What’s more iconic than learning to surf in Hawaii? You can rent a board and do it on your own or learn to surf from a professional.
While there are lots of Kauai surfing lessons, most are offered at the exact same time. That’s why I suggested booking one at “odd” hours to avoid other surfing groups. And booking a small group tour for lots of attention.
Poipu is a great place to learn to surf in Hawaii for adults, teens, and kids because the waves are very gentle.
Book your Kauai Group Surfing Lessons
22. Explore a Kauai Cave
Did you know Kauai has an active dig site? Book a Makauwahi Cave Tour and head on a 4-hour ATV tour over Kauai plantation trails.
Your guide will tell you all about the cave and Hawaiian history, plus you’ll get to see a few famous movie sites and fish for bass on the Waita Reservoir.
Plus, a portion the proceeds of your tour goes toward funding the study of the cave and maintenance.
Book your Makauwahi Cave Tour
23. Go Fishing
We all know Hawaii is known for its amazing seafood, so why not get out there and try to catch some yourself?
Book a Kauai fishing tour and they will provide all your gear and equipment plus a local guide who can tell you all sorts of stories.
You’ll head out to Kauai’s Waita Reservoir (the largest inland body of water in Hawaii) and try to catch freshwater fish like bass, tilapia, and catfish.
They even have afternoon options, in case you like to sleep in!
Book your Kauai Fishing tour
24. Hike in Kokee
Another fun Kauai day trip from Poipu is Kokee State Park. It’s one of the best Kauai parks and it’s located next to Waimea Canyon.
You’ll just head up the road a bit more and you’ll find yourself in the peaceful (and sometimes misty) forest.
There are hikes for all ages and abilities. You can take a simple nature walk (perfect for kids) or do a much more extensive hike like the super muddy Alawai Swamp hike (for serious hikers wanting epic views of Hanalei Valley.)
25. Go Scuba Diving
Want to go scuba diving in Hawaii but don’t have your scuba diving certificate? First time divers can book a PADI Discover Scuba Diving course where you can get introductory scuba diving skills.
It’s a 4 hour experience with certified instructors that will count toward a PADI Open Water Certification (if you choose to pursue that.)
Plus, you’ll get to go face to face with Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles!
Book your Kauai Scuba Diving adventure
Best Places to Stay in Poipu
One of the best Poipu resorts is the Grand Hyatt Kauai. It’s perfect for honeymooners, families with young kids, or couples looking for a relaxing vacation. They have tons of swimming pools, the largest spa on Kauai, an on-site luau, and several restaurants.
This Kauai resort is part of the Autograph Collection of boutique hotels. Here, you can rent anything from a studio unit to a 4-bedroom unit. They also have a 350,000 gallon swimming pool and they are just steps away from The Shops at Kukui’ula.
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly place to stay on Kauai, check out The Point at Poipu. This family-friendly oceanfront resort overlooks Shipwreck Beach. They have a large outdoor pool, BBQ grills, and picnic areas.
Other Things to do on Kauai
Looking to explore more of Kauai? Check out our posts about the best places to snorkel, epic Kauai waterfalls, best Kauai breakfasts, amazing Kauai whale watching tours, birding on Kauai, Kauai Instagram guide, free things to do on Kauai with kids, and more!