Table of Contents:
- Where is Kauai?
- Best Time of Year to Elope in Kauai
- Kauai Elopement & Wedding Permits
- 10 Best Places to Elope in Kauai
- Getting Your Hawaii Marriage License
- Best Places to Stay for Your Kauai Elopement
- 10 Fun Ideas for Your Kauai Elopement
- Kauai Elopement Photography Packages
Today we’re takin’ a little tropical vacation to one of my fav places: KAUAI!! I love the PNW but sometimes you just need some sunshine and to put your toes in the sand (except not the cold sand of the Washington Coast beaches haha). So if you’d rather elope on a beach or in the lush, rolling hills of Hawaii, surrounded by palm trees and sunny skies than here in the rainy PNW, this Kauai elopement guide is for you! I’ve put together everythingggg you’ll need to elope in Kauai, including the best Kauai elopement locations, tips for when to elope in Kauai, marriage license info, and more. See ya on the island!
Where is Kauai?
If you’ve never been to Kauai (or Hawaii at all) let’s get acquainted with the island before anything else! Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, nicknamed the “Garden Isle” for its lush tropical rainforest that literally covers the entire island. This island has EVERYTHING: pristine white sand beaches, vibrant green rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, massive waterfalls, and a freaking stunning coastline. You really can’t go wrong eloping on any part of the island – it just depends on what type of scenery you’re looking for! But more on that a little later.
Getting to Kauai
To get to Kauai from the mainland (or from another island), you’ll fly into the Lihue Airport, which is on the east side of the island. The airport is about a 10-minute drive from Wailua, 45 minutes from Waimea, and 45 minutes from Princeville. Unlike Hawaii’s bigger islands like Oahu and, well, the Big Island, it’s fairly easy to drive across Kauai – it only takes about 2 hours to drive around the entire island, so you can absolutely see EVERYTHING during your time there!!
Traveling Around Kauai
Because it’s so easy to explore every part of Kauai, you should definitely rent a car if you’re flying in. That way you have total freedom to venture wherever you want, whenever you want and you don’t have to rely on Ubers or Lyfts! You can easily rent a car from the airport when you’re booking your flights.
What part of Kauai is best for elopements?
There are five different regions that Kauai is typically divided into: the West Side, the South Shore, Lihue, the East Side (also called the Coconut Coast), and the North Shore. Each area is unique in its own way, so it really depends on what you’re looking for out of your island experience when it comes to what part of the island is “best” for elopements! But remember, you can easily drive across the whole island in a day, or spend the week of your elopement exploring each different area – so you don’t really need to choose just one unless you want to intentionally stay in one spot.
Here’s what each region of the island is most known for:
- Waimea Canyon
- Red Dirt Waterfall
- Dramatic cliffs
- Deep valleys
- Koke’e State Park
- Historic attractions
- Hanapepe – the island’s art capital!
- Beautiful beaches
- Upscale resorts & golf courses
- Shopping areas
- Small island towns
- Makahuena Point
- Luxury resorts
- Wailua Falls
- Ninini Beach
- Historical spots
- Great surfing & swimming
- Massive groves of coconut palm trees
- Wailua River State Park
- Nounou Mountain
- Golden beaches
- Great snorkeling
- Napali Coast
- Rugged mountains & valleys
- Taro fields
- Dramatic sea cliffs
- Luxury beachside resorts
So there’s not really one “best” area of Kauai to elope in – I’d say pick what kind of scenery you’re envisioning for your ceremony, and find the region of the island that best fits that! If your priority is dramatic canyons & Kauai’s iconic red dirt, then the West Side is the place for you. Want to explore the best beaches on the island? Maybe elope on the Coconut Coast! We’ll talk a bit about weather on the island next, which also plays a factor in where you elope.
Best Time of Year to Elope in Kauai
Now, let’s talk about WHEN to elope in Kauai! There are a few things to consider when picking a time of year for your Kauai elopement, including weather, crowds, costs, and activities. But let’s start off with probably the most important one: weather!
Here are some quick facts about Kauai’s climate:
- Wettest Month: December
- Driest Month: June
- Hottest Month: August
- Coldest Month: January
- Windiest Month: July
- Hurricane Season: June-November
If you want to elope during the most pleasant time of year weather-wise, April and May are great months to elope in Kauai!! The weather is sooo nice and warm but not quite too hot like it can get later in the summer, and there are fewer tourists this time of year before summer really arrives. This is also a great time to do a ton of outdoor activities and spend lots of time swimming, snorkeling, surfing, etc.
If you want to elope in Kauai when there are the fewest crowds, you should elope in the off-peak seasons, between September-December or April-June. The most crowded months are July and August, as well as later in the winter when people travel to the island to escape cold weather!
If you want to elope in Kauai when travel & accommodation costs are lowest, April-May and September-early December are usually going to be the best months!
Kauai Elopement & Wedding Permits
It’s super important to get proper permits wherever you elope, but ESPECIALLY on the Hawaiian islands because of the growing number of couples who want to elope in Hawaii. Permit rules have become a lot stricter in recent years across the islands due to more people just not respecting land rules and causing a lot of damage with their adventure elopements :/ So please be sure to follow permitting rules and regulations, and triple-check to see what permit you might need once you choose your elopement locations!
Kauai State Park Wedding Permits
If you want to elope in a Kauai State Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit. You need to apply for this permit at least 45 days before your requested date so make sure to plan in advance! To get more info about this permit & how to apply, contact the district office where the park is located, as permit regulations differ by island and by park.
Kauai Beach Wedding Permits
If you want to have your wedding ceremony on a beach, first of all, you need to check the permitted beach sites listed in the Wiki Permit Beach Locations list! You can’t get married on any beach (on any of the islands) that isn’t listed. Then, you’ll need to get a Wiki Permit through the Department of Land & Natural Resources at least 1-2 weeks in advance. This permit has a minimum $20 fee, and then costs ten cents per square foot of the beach that you’ll be using! You can use the beach site for two hours max with this permit, including setup and breakdown, and your group can’t exceed 25 (but it’s recommended that you keep it under 10) people.
10 Best Places to Elope in Kauai
This list could be 100 places long and it STILL wouldn’t cover all the amazing spots that Kauai has to offer, but I did my best to narrow it down!! Whether you want to be overlooking otherworldly, colorful, dramatic canyons, in the middle of a magical green rainforest, or walking along a stunning beach as the sun sets, this island has it ALLL. Here are 10 of the best Kauai elopement locations that would be amazing for your ceremony, portraits, or both!
1. Wailua Falls | Lihue
Wailua Falls is one of the most iconic waterfalls on the entire island, located on the south end of the Wailua River near Lihue. It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL, split into two streams of water that fall into a gorgeous pool, surrounded by rugged tree-covered canyons. There are two different trails you can take to get to the waterfall, one that’s about 0.3 miles long and is fairly steep & slippery, or an alternate trail that’s much easier for most people. You can also take a short trail to the top of the waterfall if you’d prefer the view from above!
2. Waipo’o Falls | West Side
Waipo’o Falls is another beautiful waterfall in Kauai, on the west side of the island, that’s much safer to access. The trail is moderately difficult and about 3-miles round trip, with an elevation gain of over just 1,000 feet! So this is a perfect waterfall for couples who want a bit of an adventure through the gorgeous rainforest of Koke’e State Park. Keep in mind that it can get pretty muddy after rain, making it a more difficult hike than normal!
3. Waimea Canyon State Park | West Side
If you’ve seen any photos of Kauai, you’ve probably seen photos of Waimea Canyon, as it’s one of the most EPIC places on the island!! Located on the west side of Kauai, Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” for its colorful canyons, waterfalls, rainbows, and overall just freaking otherworldly views. It costs $5 to visit Waimea Canyon for nonresidents and $10 to park, but it’s sooo worth it for the incredible scenery that’s truly like nothing you’ve ever seen. Whether you visit the main Waimea Canyon Lookout or you take a trail such as Cliff Trail, Canyon Trail, or Black Pipe Trail, spending time at this iconic park is a MUST when you visit Kauai.
4. Polihale State Park | West Side
If you’re looking for a beach that’s not quite as centrally located or crowded as most of the popular Kauai beaches, Polihale State Park is an amazing option on the western coast of the island! The pristine, loooong sand beach and direct sunshine makes it a great place to relax on a hot day, take a dip in the ocean, or just take in the rugged views as you watch a beautiful sunset.
5. Ha’Ena State Park | North Shore
Located on the north shore, Ha’ena State Park is a gorgeous park filled with beaches, trails, and ancient Hawaiian sites (like 4,000-year-old old sea caves!) that are amazing to see in person. You’ll need a $5 Park Entry Reservation to get into the park, and then you can explore to your heart’s content!! It doesn’t matter if you just want to chill on the beach or take a long hike through the lush ridges that overlook the ocean – you’ll get gorgeous views anywhere you go.
6. Red Dirt Waterfall | West Side
This waterfall is *technically* a part of Waimea Canyon, but I thought it deserved its own separate section since it’s one of the most ICONIC places in all of Hawaii. The Red Dirt Waterfall is a little waterfall carved into Waimea Canyon, surrounded by the most insane, beautiful red soil and lush green trees. You CANNOT miss this waterfall if you’re spending any time in Kauai, because the unique, bright red terrain literally makes you feel like you’re on Mars. And couples all dressed up in elopement attire look freaking magical exploring the area!
7. Poipu Beach | South Shore
Poipu Beach always makes the list of the best beaches in Kauai, thanks to the calm, shallow waters that are perfectttt for a relaxing day in the sun + an easy swim in the ocean (which also makes it really popular for families). If you want to spend time at a great beach where you might find endangered monk seals or sea turtles, and where you can go swimming, bodyboarding, or snorkeling, you’ll love Poipu Beach! But if you want to avoid crowds and don’t really want to be around lots of kids, I’d opt for a different beach to spend time at.
8. Queen’s Bath | North Shore
Queen’s Bath is a super well-known ocean pool on the north shore, near Princeville, where you can swim and relax!! It’s unique for its natural round shape, making it feel like you’re just chilling in a hot tub when you’re really right next to the waves of the ocean. To get to Queen’s Bath you have to take about a 15-minute hike over slippery lava rocks, but then you get to enjoy the calm, clear waters (probably alongside other visitors). In the winter, the water can be dangerous and the pool often closes down, so you should stick to visiting in the summer.
9. Opaekaa Falls | East Side
Opaekaa Falls is another super pretty waterfall, located on the east side of the island in Wailua River State Park. The 150-foot-tall waterfall flows down into a hidden pool and is surrounded by gorgeous greenery. It’s one of the easiest waterfalls on the island as far as accessibility goes, as you can simply stop along Highway 56 at the roadside lookout for beautiful views from above! You used to be able to hike to the base of the falls, but unfortunately that hike is now closed due to state restrictions.
10. McBryde Garden | South Shore
Last but not least is McBryde Garden, which is a dreamy botanical garden located on the south shore of Kauai. Run by the National Tropical Botanical Garden organization, this is suchhhh a stunning place to visit if you want to see some of the largest native Hawaiian flora in existence, and be surrounded by gorgeous plant collections + the majestic cliffs of Kauai. There are multiple sites in this lush, tropical garden where you can hold your ceremony, whether you’re eloping in private or you want to invite a few guests!
Getting Your Hawaii Marriage License
To get married in Hawaii, you need to get a Hawaii marriage license (duh)! Here are the most important Hawaii marriage laws & requirements you need to know:
- Cost: $65
- Blood test required? No
- Hawaii residency required? No
- U.S. citizenship required? No
- Minimum age: 18
- Waiting period: None
- Valid for: 30 days
- Valid outside of Hawaii? No
Getting your Hawaii marriage license is pretty simple: complete the online application here, pay the application fee, and meet with an agent no earlier than 30 days prior to your ceremony date. They’ll review your application, verify your ID, and give you your license! Then, you need to use it within 30 days so it doesn’t expire – and there’s no waiting period, so you can get married right away!
Best Places to Stay for Your Kauai Elopement
Kauai has a ton of amazing places to stay, whether you want to stay in a cozy oceanfront Airbnb or a 5-star luxury resort with a spa, golf course, and beachside rooms🙌 Here’s a list of some of the best Airbnbs + hotels on each part of the island!
Where to Stay on the West Side
Where to Stay on the South Shore
- Kuhio Shores
- Kiahuna Condo
- Hale Moana
- Oceanfront Cottage
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Hilton Vacation Club
- Ko’a Kea Resort
Where to Stay Near Lihue
- Pali Nui Suite at Kalapaki Bay
- Luxe Private Cliffside Oasis at Kalapaki Beach
- Pua Oceanfront Honeymoon Cottage
- Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons
- The Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort
Where to Stay on the East Side
Where to Stay on the North Shore
- Spacious Home Near Anini Beach
- Sunset View House
- 5-Acre Home
- 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay
- The Westin Princeville
10 Fun Ideas for Your Kauai Elopement
You will literally never run out of things to do on this epic island, so don’t worry too much about filling your days with activities!! But if you do want to plan some fun tours and book activities to do with your guests (or just the two of you), here are 10 fun Kauai elopement ideas!
1. Take a helicopter tour over the Napali Coast
2. Bike along the Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail
3. Visit film locations from some of your favorite movies
5. Kayak down the Wailua River
6. Go snorkeling
7. Keep your eyes out for sea turtles
9. Go off-roading
10. Hike the Mahaulepu Beach Trail
Sooo now that you’re in love with Kauai and are probably dying to elope there ASAP, you probs need a Kauai elopement photographer to tag along with you and capture it all 😉 You can check out my Kauai elopement packages here. Then let’s start planning your dream Kauai elopement together – give me all the deetz here!!
Want some more help planning your adventure elopement?? I gotchu! Here are some of my recent favorite guides and resources!