My family of five visited Kauai over spring break. Before our Kauai vacation, I researched the highest-rated Kauai excursions to determine which (if any) were worth the time and money. We did several activities on the island that were enjoyable and worthwhile.
To clarify, it is absolutely not necessary to pay for any Kauai excursions at all. If you stick with hiking and beaches, you won’t have to fork out much extra cash to have fun in Kauai and you will still have a memorable time.
However, I figured that my family might not make it back to Kauai anytime soon, so we did want to try a few extra things. Two Kauai excursions stood out for us and were totally worth the splurge. And surprisingly, the Sugar Cane Canal Tubing didn’t make our top two!
Wings Over Kauai Airplane Tour
Seeing Kauai from above was breathtaking. Since only 30% of the island is accessible by foot or car, viewing Kauai from a plane or helicopter from above is a game changer. You can see so much more that you just can’t see from the ground. And it’s worth a look!
While we probably would have loved a helicopter tour, the high price tag for a large family and my propensity for motion sickness prevented us from booking one. Instead, we chose a private airplane tour with Wings Over Kauai. It cost half as much as a helicopter tour and was more motion sickness friendly.
We started at a small terminal just outside of the regular Lihue airport terminal. A Wings Over Kauai team member weighed each of us in a private room in order to correctly position us inside the airplane.
Soon, we went out to the tarmac to board the plane. It was weird to line up on the same runway where larger Hawaiian Airlines planes were queued up.
Inside the airplane, each of us had headphones with a microphone so that we could communicate with our pilot. My kids thought the headphones were so cool. The headphones played background music that correlated with our flight. For example, when we flew over Manawaiopuna Falls, the theme from Jurassic Park was playing.
Since it was a little cloudy when we took off, I was worried we wouldn’t see any waterfalls. I was so wrong! We saw a ton of waterfalls everywhere.
Our flight lasted about an hour and covered just about the entire island. For sure, the visual highlights were Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. Our pilot was very knowledgeable and gave us suggestions for how to spend the rest of our days on Kauai. For that reason, I recommend booking an airplane or helicopter tour early in your stay.
After we landed, we posed in front of the plane for a family photo. We had the option to purchase a video of our entire flight, but I loved how the staff did not pressure us to buy it.
The private airplane tour for my family of five cost $600. So while it wasn’t cheap, we felt it was totally worth the splurge. My kids even rated this their number one activity of the week.
ATV Tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures
Our other favorite Kauai excursion was an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures. Kipu Ranch is a privately owned cattle ranch with breathtaking views. Many movies were filmed in this location. I was attracted to this excursion because Kipu Ranch has family ATVs that fit six. Most other ATV companies only allow adults and teenagers.
After we checked in, we each received goggles, a helmet and a bandana. An instructor gave us a basic safety briefing, and each ATV driver had to take a test drive around a track. I left the driving to my husband.
Our tour was the 2-hour 4X4 Jungle Waterfall tour. Our group stopped in a few places to hear about the history of the land. The road was bumpy and muddy, but the ATVs could handle the road like a pro. Our kids squealed with delight when we went up a steep hill or around a bumpy curve.
We stopped at a small river inside the ranch where a famous scene from Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark was filmed. Guests were given the option of trying out the famous rope swing from the movie. My husband and sons couldn’t resist.
Next, we made our way through a tall bamboo forest.
Our last stop was a small waterfall where we had the option of swimming. My 10-year-old decided to take a dip.
My only complaint about this tour was that it was too short! The scenery was breathtaking, and riding on the ATV was like a fun Disneyland ride. Due to our daughter’s age, the 2-hour tour was our only option. If we return to Kauai when our kids are older, we would love to do a longer ATV tour and see more of the beautiful landscape.
We booked this tour through Hawaii Discount because it was cheaper than booking direct. The total cost for all five of us was $340.33 and worth every penny.
If you have been to Kauai, what were your favorite Kauai excursions?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.