Looking to spend 7 days on Kauai? We’re sharing a detailed Kauai itinerary and guide with everything you need to know before you visit including where to stay, the best food and shave ice, the best things to do on Kauai, and more! Ready to plan your own Kauai adventure? Keep on reading!
It’s no secret that we love Hawaii! We have visited the islands a total of 6 times, including 2 trips to Maui, 2 trips to Oahu, 1 trip to the Big Island, and 1 trip to Kauai! We spent 7 days on Kauai in the summer of 2016 and had the most magical week exploring the different towns, going on hikes, visiting gorgeous beaches, and eating tons of delicious Hawaiian food.
We fell in love with the natural beauty and laid back feel of the island. Unlike some of the other islands, Kauai feels less commercial and more rural, which gives it a more authentic Hawaiian feel. And everywhere you look is so lush and green (it is the rainiest island after all)!
While it has been a little bit since our visit, our trip to Kauai is still so fresh in our minds and it’s definitely the next island we will return to. We are excited to share some of our favorite restaurants, hikes, and things to do on Kauai, as well as some spots we didn’t have a chance to make it to, in this Kauai itinerary and guide. We hope it helps you plan your own Kauai adventure, whether you have 7 days on Kauai or just a few days to spend there!
A few disclaimers before we dive on in:
- This guide does include a decent amount of driving, but the drives are amazing! We tried to structure this Kauai itinerary so that you will stay in one area the majority of the day.
- One good thing to know about Kauai is that a lot of the type of restaurants we like to recommend (food trucks and affordable local, casual restaurants) are not open very late. So be prepared to eat an early dinner or cook at your Airbnb (if you’re staying at one)!
- We are not lay out at the beach all day type people. We like to spend our days doing a mix of beaches, hiking, eating, and exploring towns, so our guide definitely caters more to our travel style, but it still will give you tons of ideas of things to do on Kauai even if you prefer to travel differently!
Leave No Trace Principles
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
- Plan ahead & prepare. Make sure you research and prepare for every adventure so that you know the rules, stay safe, and to minimize resource damage.
- Travel & camp on durable surfaces. Stay on the trail and only camp in designated areas, as well as the required length away from water sources.
- Dispose of waste properly. Whatever you pack in, pack it out! Make sure to carry out your trash, as well as any trash you find. If you have a dog, please do not leave poop bags on the trail. For human waste, use a trowel to dig a hole far from water sources or use a wag bag (sometimes required).
- Leave what you find. Do not take any items from the trail with you, including rocks, plants, or artifacts.
- Minimize campfire impacts. Know the rules of where you can and cannot have campfires and if allowed, use designated fire rings. Use local firewood to prevent bringing any pests or diseases to the area you’re visiting and make sure to fully extinguish your fire.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from wildlife, control your pets on the trail, and never ever feed them! Make sure to keep your food stored properly as well (we like this bear canister).
- Be considerate of other visitors. Be respectful to others on the trail. Hikers going uphill have the right of way on hikes and it’s always courteous to let those quicker than you pass. Avoid playing music out loud, talking loudly, and having your pets bother others.
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
About the Island of Kauai
Although Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, it’s the smallest of the four popular islands in size, and is less populated and more rural. Tourist development reached Kauai later than the other islands, so it is less commercialized and has less large hotel chains compared to the others. There’s also apparently a rule that buildings cannot be taller than 40 feet or any higher than a coconut tree.
The island has 6 main regions that we will reference on this guide: the North Shore, Na Pali Coast, West Side, South Shore, Lihue, and the East Side (Coconut Coast). See the map below (created by Go Hawaii), to see where they are in relation to each other. Each area has a slightly different climate, cute small towns, and many things to do.
Unlike the other islands, you cannot drive around the entire Kauai Coast because between the West Side and North Shore lies the rugged Na Pali Coast, which is full of jagged cliffs.
So getting from some areas of the island, like the West Side to the North Shore, requires you to go all the way around the other side of the island. However, driving from the farthest west to the farthest north spots on the island is only about a 2 hour drive.
Kauai is nicknamed the “Garden Isle” because 97% of its land is composed of undeveloped mountain ranges and rainforests and has been a filming location for many famous movies, including the 1993 film Jurassic Park and 2015 sequel Jurassic World.
It has also been used for scenes of Fantasy Island, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and several Elvis films.
Beyond Kauai’s beauty, the island is also home to some wildlife: wild roosters and chickens! One thing that may surprise you when you arrive is seeing how many roosters there are around town and on the beaches.
One of the theories about why there are so many is that after Hurricane Iniki in 1992, chicken coops were destroyed, releasing many onto the island. Although they may be fun to look at, please don’t feed them, but definitely take photos and even get a chicken-themed souvenir! 🙂
General Kauai Tips
Between weather, the language, and what to bring, here are a few things that are good to know before you visit Kauai!
- We found that the best weather website for the Kauai (and Hawaii in general) is Hawaii Weather Today. Typical weather websites said we would have rain every day of our trip (this happened to us last time on Maui too!) and during our trip we only had one day rained out. So don’t panic if it says it’ll rain!
This website is great because you can view the weather by region, which is crucial since the islands have many different ecosystems and weather patterns!
- Speaking of rain, bring a rain jacket or umbrella! Ideally you won’t need it, but it’ll be a lifesaver if you have one!
- Learn some Hawaiian words before you go! Not only does this help you understand some of the words you’ll see often, but it helps you get immersed into the culture more. And it’s nice to know how to pronounce them too!
When to visit Kauai
Kauai is the rainiest of the four main Hawaiian islands, getting about 460” of rain per year! However, similar to the other Hawaiian islands, certain parts of the island get more rain than others and just because it is raining in one area, doesn’t mean it’ll be raining in the other!
For example, the Central mountainous part of the island gets more rain than the coast and the North Shore gets more rain than the South Shore, so we’d suggest looking at the weather for all regions during your trip to figure out what days will be best in which areas.
But as a whole, the island of Kauai is wetter than the other islands and has its rainy season between November-March, so visiting during this time will be a bit riskier, although likely cheaper.
April-October will be your best bet weather-wise, but some months will be better than others price wise. We visited during the 4th of July and the weather was pretty darn perfect! We had one day where it rained most of the day, but the other days were mostly sunny. And despite the holiday, the crowds didn’t seem bad either. However, we likely paid more money for our visit due to it being peak summer vacation.
If you want to have good weather and lower prices, visit late April-early June or late August-early October! But there truly is no bad time to visit!
Getting to Kauai
Kauai is home to one airport, Lihue Airport (LIH), which as the name implies, is located in the Lihue area of the island. Its location is pretty central to the popular areas, with between a 20-50 minute drive to your accommodations.
Most of the major airlines, like Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, Southwest, and WestJet fly into Lihue. You may have a layover on one of the other Hawaiian Islands depending on where you’re coming from.
Tip for your flight into Lihue: For the best view, select a window seat on the left side of the aircraft. Due to tradewinds, you’ll likely be landing to the North and the dramatic coastline will be on your left when descending.
Getting around Kauai
Although Kauai is the smallest of the four main Hawaiian Islands, the best things to do on Kauai are spread out across the island. In our opinion, you must rent a car to be able to truly experience Kauai.
Although Uber and Lyft are now on Kauai, when we visited, they weren’t, so getting around without a car was very tricky. We learned this the hard way (and on accident) when we landed in Kauai to find out that they had no more rental cars on the island due to a recall with many of the vehicles. We had a random local pick us up from the airport (they called it a taxi, but it was definitely not what you think when you think of a taxi) and take us to our condo and then into town for dinner.
After dinner, we spent about an hour calling the rental car companies like crazy trying to see if they had a car. We were panicking because we were stuck in town and had no idea how we would handle a week without a car. After many calls to the rental companies we finally had perfect timing when a car had just been returned. They asked us if a Mustang would be okay (the answer is always: YES!) and we called our taxi driver (who had given us her card) to take us to the rental car place.
Our taxi driver picked us up in her pajamas (seriously the best lady ever!) and took us to the airport to get our car. Had we not had her card, we would’ve had to walk for quite a while or would have been stuck.
So although there is Uber and Lyft on the island now, we highly, highly recommend renting a car. Your drives will range from minutes to up to 1.5-2 hours depending on where you’re staying and where you’re going. But don’t worry, the drives are beautiful and not a pain at all!
Where to Stay on Kauai
Choosing where to stay on Kauai is a bit of a challenge. The most popular areas to stay are the South Shore (Poipu area), East Side (Kapa’a area), and the North Shore (Hanalei and Princeville). Each one has its own benefits and things to do, so deciding which one is right for you is hard!
When we visited Kauai, we ultimately decided to stay in Kapa’a on the East Side, as it was central to everywhere we wanted to visit. And we loved it! We had so many shops and restaurants nearby and an amazing condo rental with an ocean view. For this Kauai itinerary, Kapa’a is a great choice as well, but the South Shore and North Shore would also be great!
Regardless of which area you choose, you will have some days where you drive less and some days where you drive more. If you want to reduce the driving, we’d recommend splitting your accommodation among different areas on the island (we’d suggest the South Shore and North Shore if you decide to split).
Below are our suggestions of places to stay in the three main areas of the island: South Shore, East Side, and North Shore!
Note: A/C is not always common in rentals in Hawaii, so make sure to check before booking! We have stayed in many rentals in Hawaii without A/C and with the windows open and a fan it’s not bad at night!
This area is home to many beaches, more resorts, and lots of shopping areas compared to some of the other areas on the island. It’s also less rainy, so if you plan to visit in the winter, you may want to stay here!
- Airbnb Option #1: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo walking distance to beaches and restaurants
- Airbnb Option #2: A 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage with A/C in both rooms
- Airbnb Option #3: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo with A/C in the bedroom
- VRBO Option #1: A 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottage that is a bit pricey, but sooo beautiful!
- Sheraton Kauai Resort
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
- Koloa Landing Resort
- Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort
- Sheraton Kauai Resort Villas
The East Side is more affordable to stay in and has many shops and restaurants. The area is pretty walkable and bikeable and it’s also a very convenient location to both the North Shore and South Shore.
- Airbnb Option #1: A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo with an amazing ocean view
- Airbnb Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom oceanfront condo
- Airbnb Option #3: A 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo steps from the water
- Airbnb Option #4: A 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo with A/C
- VRBO Option #1: This is where we stayed and we loved it! It was a studio right on the water and close to town!
The North Shore may be the most beautiful part of the island, with its lush forests and mountain backdrop. It is home to the cute town of Hanalei and also has more luxury accommodations and resorts to choose from. Warning: prices are a bit higher over on this side of the island!
- Airbnb Option #1: A studio with a kitchenette right by the Princeville golf course
- Airbnb Option #2: A super cute 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo with A/C
- Airbnb Option #3: A spacious studio with A/C
- Airbnb Option #4: A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo with ocean views
- Hanalei Colony Resort
- Hanalei Bay Resort
- The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
- Hanalei Surfboard House
- Princeville Resort (closed until 2021)
7 days on Kauai itinerary
Spending 7 days on Kauai? Our Kauai itinerary is almost exactly identical to when we visited Kauai a few years ago with all of the best food, beaches, hikes, and things to do on Kauai!
While this itinerary is if you have 7 days on Kauai, you could definitely modify the itinerary depending on your interests and length of your trip. We spread out the days by different areas so that no matter where you’re staying, you will have some days with less driving. But you can reorganize the days however you’d like and still have an amazing trip!
Day 1: South Shore
- Take advantage of the time change (assuming your coming from the mainland) and get an early start with coffee at Aloha Roastery!
- After fueling up on coffee, have breakfast at Anuenue Cafe, a popular spot with hawaiian classics, like Banana Mac Nut pancakes, Loco Moco, and Kalua Pork Fried Rice.
- Walk the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, which is a beautiful trail that takes you along the coast (and even a golf course)! The trail is 2 miles each way and relatively flat, but rocky, so wear good shoes. You will need to park at Shipwreck Beach, which can get a bit busy, so try to arrive early!
- Grab an acai bowl at Anake’s Juice Bar, a super tasty acai bowl spot in the back of a market or shave ice at Waikomo Shave Ice, located right next to Anake’s. Or grab one of each 🙂
If you want some savory food too, the market has a great sushi spot called Makai Sushi, plus lots of snacks and grab and go items for a little beach picnic! There’s also a burrito spot next door called Da Crack worth checking out!
- Spend the afternoon laying out at Poipu Beach. This beach is very beautiful and has a cool sandbar that splits it into two. We even saw a few monk seals and turtles when we went! This is a pretty popular tourist beach, with quite a few condos and hotels nearby, so it will be a bit busier, but we loved it!
- If you have some extra time in the afternoon, swing by Spouting Horn to see the blowhole spout water into the air. It’s a quick and fun little stop!
- For dinner, there are a handful of dining options near Poipu. We had dinner at Puka Dog, which is a cool little Hawaiian hot dog stand with unique sauces and buns. They have vegetarian options too! It’s a tad touristy, but we really enjoyed it!
Another good option is Kiawe Roots, which is a Hawaiian and Texas BBQ fusion restaurant. It’s a counter spot, so you order at the counter, but you pay after your meal. Warning: it closes at 7 PM, so arrive early! It’s also closed Sundays and Mondays.
Day 2: East Side
- Start your morning with breakfast and coffee at Java Kai! We loved this spot in Kapa’a. The outside is a super cool bright blue, the inside is cute, and they have great coffee and breakfast options!
- Go on a fun Kauai river adventure! We have two suggestions that are both really fun ways to get out on the water.
Option #1: Kauai Backcountry Tubing adventure! For 3 hours you’ll float on the river, through tubes, and see beautiful views! It costs $126/person and includes lunch and water.
Option #2: Another fun option is a kayaking tour on the Wailua River, which also includes a hike to Secret Falls (only accessible by kayak and hiking!). This is a 4.5 hour long tour and costs either $50 or $60 per person depending on the time. It doesn’t include lunch, so make sure to pack one!
If you want a more low key or free option, head to Lydgate Beach or Kalapaki Beach and relax!
- Visit Wailua Falls! Wailua Falls is famous for being in the opening credits of the show “Fantasy Island.” The height of the falls is debated—some websites say it’s 80 ft tall and some say it’s closer to 180 ft. Regardless of the height, the falls are very beautiful!
This is a quick stop and you can see the falls from a pull off area on the road, so no hiking required, but you can hike down to the falls if you’re feeling adventurous!
- Have shave ice at our favorite shave ice place ever—Wailua Shave Ice! This shave ice is made with local and fresh ingredients and is so dang good!
The Love Potion No. 9 is our go-to, but every flavor we have tried has been amazing! They have locations in Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California as well, which we have been to and they are both just as good as on Kauai!
- For dinner, head to Coconut’s Fish Cafe (a favorite of ours from Maui! Their tacos are amazing!), Scorpacciata (closed Sundays and Mondays), or Chicken In a Barrel. All spots are quick and delicious!
Day 3: Na Pali Coast + South Shore
- Today’s big adventure: go on a Na Pali Coast tour with Captain Andy’s! The Na Pali Coast is truly one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. It’s a 17 mile stretch of Kauai’s coast with jagged cliffs and ridges, beautiful water, remote waterfalls, caves, and secluded beaches. Much of the coast is only accessible by air, boat, or by foot.
During our trip to Kauai, we did the 5.5 hour Star Na Pali Snorkel BBQ Sail, which included breakfast, lunch, snorkeling, crazy views, and we even saw dolphins! This tour costs $185/adult, but trust us, it’s worth it!
They have other tour options and if you want something a little more adventurous, we suggest their Na Pali Raft Day Expedition! While a little pricier than the snorkel BBQ sail ($225/adult), this tour is a little bit longer and in addition to the beautiful coastal views, you get to go into sea caves, snorkel at a remote beach, and see an ancient Hawaiian village. Next time we visit, we definitely want to do this tour!
If boats aren’t your thing, but you still want to see the Na Pali Coast, we suggest looking into a helicopter tour (or even better a doors off helicopter tour)! On this tour you’ll get to see the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and other amazing spots on the island from above. This is our bucket list item and we are saving our pennies to do this next time!
- After your Na Pali Coast adventure, make a stop in the cute town of Hanapepe! We loved Little Fish Coffee, walking on the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge (currently closed), and Talk Story Bookstore, which is the western-most independent bookstore in the US.
- Visit Kauai Coffee Company, which is the largest coffee estate in the US! They have tons of free samples, delicious treats to buy, and tours everyday! Their tours range from free walking tours (which is what we did), free guided tours at 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM, two hour Farm Tours ($60/adult), and personalized walking tours ($20/person).
- For dinner, here are a few options!
Day 4: North Shore
- Have an early breakfast at Kilauea Market + Cafe or Kilauea Bakery & Pizza on your way to the Na Pali Coast!
- Hike part of the Kalalau Trail! This is one of the best hikes on the island, taking you along the Na Pali Coast. It’s a must-do in our opinion, but there’s a lot you need to know beforehand, which we’ll cover below!
How to get there
You can either park at Hāʻena State Park, which has 100 stalls, or take the Kauai North Shore Shuttle. You can also Uber/walk-in!
Length of the hike
The entire hike is a 22 mile round trip hike, but most people only do a portion of it. You can either hike 4 miles round trip to the Hanakāpīʻai Beach and back or 8 miles round trip to Hanakāpīʻai Falls, or as little as your heart desires! During our trip, we only made it to the beach due to weather (more on that in a second).
Reservations + Permits
You need a reservation (price varies on how you arrive) to do the day hike portions mentioned above (Hanakāpīʻai Beach and Falls) or to just visit Ke’e Beach. These permits are available up to 30 days in advance and must be purchased at least 1 day before you visit. However, these sell out, so get them early!
If you plan to hike or camp beyond Hanakāpīʻai Beach (not including Hanakāpīʻai Falls) you will need a permit. These are available 90 days in advance and do sell out! You will need to get a parking reservation as well. There’s tons of info on the permits here!
Weather + Safety
This trail can be dangerous! There are drop offs, parts are narrow, and when it has been rainy, it can be very muddy and there can be flash floods. When we visited, it wasn’t the best weather and the trail itself, although muddy, wasn’t bad. What was dangerous though was the river crossing right before Hanakāpīʻai Beach, which was a bit flooded. We crossed the river like idiots, before deciding to turn back (and had to cross it again). It was the scariest moment of our lives and very stupid. Don’t be like us!
We don’t want to scare you, but we want to make sure you are prepared! If you go on a nicer day and just do the day use portion, it’s not bad at all and worth it for the views!
Food + Water
Make sure to pack plenty of food and water for the hike! There are some streams you can fill up on water, including at mile 2 (by Hanakāpīʻai Beach). Make sure to pack out any trash!
- Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the beautiful Hanalei Bay!
- Walk around the cute town of Hanalei and have dinner and ice cream at Pink’s Creamery! This is a delicious ice cream shop that makes a delicious Hawaiian Grilled Cheese with Kalua pork, pineapple, and cheese. They have non-meat options too! It’s not a fancy dinner, but after a day of hiking, it’s dang good!
Day 5: East Side
- If you’re up for an early morning hike, make the trek up the Sleeping Giant Trail. There are two ways to do the trail. You can take the East Trail, which is 3.2 miles round trip with 944 ft of elevation gain or you can take the West Trail, which is 1.7 miles round trip and 692 ft of elevation gain.
Either way is a bit challenging, with some rock scrambling towards the end of the trail, but the view from the top is incredible! You can see the town below, mountains, and the ocean! We’d recommend doing this early to beat the heat.
- Reward yourself with massive pancakes for breakfast at Kountry Kitchen!
- After your hike, walk around the cute town of Kapa’a!
- Spend the rest of the day riding bikes down the Kauai Path, which goes about 4 miles from Lihi Park in Kapa’a north to Donkey Beach. We rented our bikes at Kapa’a Beach Shop and had so much fun doing this! You ride along the ocean and there are many different beaches you can stop at along the way!
While in town earlier in the day, we suggest grabbing items for a packed lunch for a picnic while riding bikes. Pono Market (closed Sundays) is a great spot to grab some Hawaiian food for your picnic!
- Get another delicious shave ice from either Hee Fat General Store or Hawaiian Blizzard (not open on the weekends).
- For dinner, we loved Sleeping Giant Grill! They have a big menu full of fresh fish, Hawaiian plates (which we loved!), tacos, and more. This spot is very casual and we loved sitting in their outdoor seating area.
Day 6: West Side (Waimea Canyon)
- On your way to today’s big adventure, have breakfast at Kalaheo Cafe! This spot opens up at 6:30 AM, so it’s perfect if you want to visit the canyon early. We recommend their cinnamon French toast!
- Head to Waimea Canyon! Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep and is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It is absolutely incredible and mind blowing that this exists on the same island you’ve been exploring all week! FYI: the park costs $5 per car for parking.
On the way in, there is a little red dirt waterfall you can stop and see. It’s not huge, but pretty cool!
- First stop in the canyon: Waimea Canyon Lookout. This lookout is unreal and gives you a great glimpse at the canyon. This is a quick stop that doesn’t require any hiking!
- Keep driving towards the end of the road to the Kalalau Lookout and the Pu’u O Kila Lookout (walk the trail from this lookout for a little bit for even more views). These lookouts are technically in Kokee State Park, which is right next to Waimea Canyon State Park. You will pass some other lookouts along the way, but skip these for now!
When we visited, the weather had taken a little bit of a turn by the time we reached these spots and they were covered in clouds. We have heard to go to these lookouts early to avoid clouds rolling in, so we suggest going here right after the Waimea Canyon Lookout and before doing any hikes so you can see the beautiful cliffs and coastline of the Na Pali Coast!
- Head back onto Kokee Road to the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, which is just a bit down the road from the Waimea Canyon Lookout you stopped at first and offers a different perspective on the canyon.
- Spend the next couple hours hiking the Canyon Trail to the Cliff Trail and the top of Waipoo Falls. This 3.2 mile trail starts by the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout and takes you down into the canyon, which is really fun, and has great views along the way.
Along the way, there’s a turnoff for the Cliff Trail. We highly recommend making this little detour for an amazing view! Once you get back on the main trail, you’ll end up at the top of Waipoo Falls, which is the waterfall that you saw from the Waimea Canyon Lookout. There are some areas to have a picnic lunch around here!
This hike can be muddy, so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty and that can handle mud well!
- Some other hikes you can do while in the park are the Kalepa Ridge Trail (1.9 miles round trip, 610 ft elevation gain) or the Awa’awapuhi Trail (6.7 miles, 2,125 ft elevation gain). These hikes are closer to the Kalalau Lookout, so if you do them after the Canyon Trail you will have to backtrack.
- Depending on what time you finish exploring the park, we highly recommend stopping by Porky’s Kauai, which is a pork food truck in Waimea. Warning: it closes at 4 PM Monday-Friday, at 3 PM on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays.
We also suggest swinging by The Fresh Shave for shave ice (Open until 3 PM Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sundays and Mondays) or The Right Slice for some pie!
Day 7: North Shore
- Head to the North Shore and grab breakfast and coffee at Saenz Ohana Breakfast (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays), The Spot North Shore, or Holey Grail Donuts (open Saturdays and Sundays only).
- Spend the rest of the morning at Tunnels Beach. This is a gorgeous, secluded beach (although not a secret by any means) located right by Haena Beach Park. The views of the green, rugged cliffs are amazing and it’s a great spot to snorkel if the water is calm.
We parked at Haena Beach Park and walked to the beach from there. It’s not a bad walk along the beach, but during our visit the sand was crazy hot, so our feet were burning a bit during the walk.
The parking lot fills up early, so try to arrive before 9 AM if you can! You can also take the North Shore Shuttle, which costs $15/person (for a reservation) if you do not want to deal with parking.
- Have lunch at one of Hanalei’s food trucks! We suggest checking out Da Fazenda (Closed Thursdays and Fridays) or Trucking Delicious (Closed Sundays and Mondays).
- Treat yo self to some shave ice or an acai bowl at Wishing Well Shave Ice!
- Make the steep hike down to Hideaway Beach! This beach is absolutely gorgeous and getting down to it is half the fun! There is a very small parking lot to park at (you may have to be patient), but we hear you can also valet at the Princeville Resort and then walk to the parking lot.
At the parking lot there is an entrance to a trail, which is full of roots, mud, and even ropes to help you down. But once you get down, you’ll be treated to gorgeous water and a nice smaller beach to enjoy!
- Visit Queen’s Bath, which is a really unique tide pool/sink hole surrounded by igneous rock! There is a very small parking area and visiting Queen’s Bath requires a 0.8 mile round trip hike down to them and the hike is a bit slick, muddy, and steep.
One very big warning for Queen’s Bath is that it is dangerous and people have been swept out to sea. It is recommended to visit only during the summer months, as the surf is too big in the winter. We visited in July and it was safe to enjoy (we aren’t very risky people). There is a gate at the trailhead that is locked when it’s too dangerous, so if the gate is locked, do not attempt to hike down! Also make sure you check the surf reports beforehand.
- Swing by the Hanalei Valley Lookout, which is a beautiful lookout to see the lush valley! It doesn’t require a hike and is a quick photo stop!
- Have dinner at Hanalei Bay Pizzeria or make dinner at your Airbnb (if you’re staying at one). Similar to other areas of the island, a lot of the spots we want to recommend are not open late enough for dinner.
If you have extra time…
Looking for more places to eat and things to do on Kauai? Here are some suggestions if you have extra time or just want more options!
- Mark’s Place (Lihue)
- Konohiki Seafoods (Lihue)
- Kikuchi’s (Lihue)
- The Fish Express (Lihue)
- D Greens BBQ (South Shore)
- Koloa Fish Market (South Shore)
- Kickshaws (South Shore)
- Bobbie’s (South Shore)
- Mermaid’s Café (East Side)
- Kenji Burger (East Side)
- NOM Kauai (East Side)
- El Taco Feliz (East Side)
- Al Pastor (East Side)
- Hukilau Lanai (East Side)
- Kauai Juice (East Side)
- Pat’s Taqueria (North Shore)
- Hanalei Poke (North Shore)
- Waikomo Shave Ice (South Shore)
- JoJo’s Shave Ice (South Shore)
- Midnight Bear Breads (South Shore)
- Kauai Bakery (Lihue)
- Ono ono Shave Ice (East Side)
- Passion Bakery Cafe (East Side)
- Kalalea Juice Hale (East Side)
- Rainbeau Jo’s (Lihue)
- Ha Coffee Bar (Lihue)
- Eden Coffee (South Shore)
- Small Town Coffee (East Side)
- Trilogy Coffee (North Shore)
- Make the rough drive out to Polihale State Park, which is a secluded beach at the end of the Na Pali Coast. The road to this beach is 5 miles and four-wheel drive is highly advised. Some rental car companies prohibit you from driving to this beach.
- Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the best places to watch wildlife, like dolphins and seals, in Kauai.
- Relax at Salt Pond Beach Park
- Hike the Kuilau Ridge Trail, which is 3.6 miles and 666 ft elevation gain
- Lay out at Shipwreck Beach
- If you’re on the island on the first Saturday of the month, visit the First Saturday Art Walk Kapa’a.
- Hike the Nu’alolo Trail, which is 7.5 miles and 2,578 ft elevation gain
- Make the trek down to Secret Beach
- Take a boat ride to Fern Grotto
- Ride the Kauai Plantation Railway, which is a good family friendly activity where you’ll see tons of fruits, plants, and animals!
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