Legend has it that the green ridge rising up between Wailua and Kapaa is a sleeping giant. Even if it looks like just another green Kauai ridge to the casual observer, the vistas from the top are hard to dispute. Hike the two miles along Mount Nounou Trail to see for yourself and get oriented.
Located at the mouth of the Wailua River, Wailua has ocean beaches to the east and forests to the west. Ride the barge or take a guided kayak trip up the river for the Fern Grotto, a cave populated, not surprisingly, by an abundance of ferns. Tick off the other local touristy box with a visit to Smith's Tropical Paradise, a sprawling garden just south of Wailua, and brush up on your flora and fauna.
There are numerous sacred historical sites, when you're ready for the more spiritual side of Kauai, along Route 580 and Route 56. For peace and quiet, park at the end of Route 580 and wend your way along the Powerline Trail over Mt. Waialeale for wonderful sunny-day views. Return the same way or continue on to north side of the island—don't forget to arrange transportation back.
Take a seaside break at protected Lydgate Beach for safe swimming and snorkelling. Or, for a glimpse of Kauai's interior you can rent kayaks town and paddle up the lazy Wailua River, though you will have to share the river with water-skiers who also find this a great place for recreation Try it yourself if you find paddling slow going and rent a pull or even an hour of skiing through a local operators.
Wailua is less than ten miles north of Lihue alone Route 56.