Limahuli garden in Kauai, Hawaii.

Getty Images

Limahuli Garden

Top choice in Hanalei Bay & the North Shore

Perhaps the most beautiful spot on an island of unsurpassed beauty, this magnificent garden is a must-see stop on any North Shore itinerary. Besides cherishing species unique to this region of Kaua‘i – some to this very valley – it also displays plants brought to Hawaii from elsewhere. While guided and self-guided tours follow a three-quarter-mile trail through its landscaped front portion, the preserve’s 985 acres extend back into the sheer-walled depths of the valley, where its serious conservation work takes place.

This wonderful place forms part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which also runs two gardens in Po‘ipu. To give it the time it deserves, come as early as possible, before the day’s full heat sets in. Allow 1½ hours to walk the trail, enjoying spectacular close-up views of Makana Peak (popularly known as Bali Hai). In winter, it’s common to see whales breaching offshore.

The garden’s driveway climbs inland just before the stream that marks the boundary of Haʻena State Park. Although you don’t need a permit to drive here, you have to reserve in advance for a specific time, and you’re only allowed to park here during your actual visit.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hanalei Bay & the North Shore attractions

1. Wet Caves


Two wet caves lie within Ha‘ena State Park. Carved by the endless pounding of the ocean, the massive cavern of Waikapala‘e Wet Cave is as enchanting as it…

2. Keʻe Beach

0.45 MILES

Long renowned as one of the North Shore’s most glorious beaches, lovely Ke‘e Beach, beside the Kalalau trailhead at the end of Kuhio Hwy, has been given a…

3. Kaulu Paoa Heiau

0.53 MILES

The roaring surf was a teacher to those who first practiced the spiritual art of hula, chanting and testing their skills against nature's decibel levels…

4. Haʻena Beach Park

0.64 MILES

At this beautiful county-run beach, just under a mile before the end of the road, the sea is usually smooth and safe for swimming in summer. Ask…

5. Maniniholo Dry Cave

0.67 MILES

Flat-bottomed Maniniholo Dry Cave, across from Ha‘ena Beach Park, is deep, broad and fun to explore, though the further you penetrate, the lower the…

6. Makua (Tunnels) Beach

1.26 MILES

Yet another too-good-to-be-true North Shore beach. Named for the underwater caverns and lava tubes that pepper the near-shore reef, Tunnels ranks among…

7. Na Pali Coast Wilderness State Park


Pristine and hauntingly beautiful, this 16-mile-long stretch of soaring green-clad cliffs, white-sand beaches, turquoise coves and gushing waterfalls is…

8. Lumahaʻi Beach

3.23 MILES

Countless Kauaʻi locals consider Lumaha‘i their favorite beach on an island blessed with dozens of beauties. It’s utterly cinematic, with thick loamy sand…