Want to maximize your Kauai visit with as much fun and adventure as possible and not spend too much time driving or stuck in traffic? If so, read this brief summary of suggestions:

Shipwrecks Beach & Coastal Trailhead to Mahaulepu, South Shore

Welcome to Day 1 of Vacation Planner for Kaua‘i

Day One: Island-wide

Drive and sightsee around the beautiful North Shore. For spectacular views, take an exciting boat trip down the scenic Na Pali Coast. Boat tours depart from the North Shore only during the calmer ocean months of May-October. Morning boat tours take about 5 hours. Afternoon or sunset tours are 3-4 hours.

To explore Ha’ena and Ke’e Beaches, hop on the county bus from Waipa/Hanalei or obtain a parking permit at gohaena.com. Visit the dry and wet caves in Ha’ena. Snorkel at Tunnels Beach or Ke’e lagoon. You can also hike 2 miles to Hanakapia’i Beach, part of the Na Pali Coast Trail. Please beware of flooding hazards in times of heavy rains and the ocean currents at Hanakapia’i Beach.

On the way back to Hanalei from Ha’ena, visit Limahuli Gardens. Enjoy a cool dip in the Limahuli stream that passes under the main road.

Take a surfing lesson at Hanalei Bay. If you like paddling, rent a SUP board or kayak to explore the Hanalei River. Walk the soft sands or swim in crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay. Ocean and weather conditions permitting, jump in the water from the pier. There are several park areas for a picnic. Further down the beach, there is a lifeguard station near the Hanalei Pavilion.

In the Kilauea area, book a Garden Island Chocolate Farm Tour. For views of amazing bird life, visit Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Lighthouse. From November-April, you can see whales from the Kilauea Point lookouts.

The North Shore offers a wide variety of dining experiences in Hanalei, Princeville, and Kilauea, along with golf and mini-golf adventures, as well as retail shopping.


Sunset on Hanalei, North Shore, photo credit: Kerry Oda

Welcome to Day 2 of Vacation Planner for Kaua‘i

Day Two: Northshore

Kayak the Wailua River and hike up to the iconic Wailua Falls. The Wailua River is the only navigable river in Hawaii. Ski boats are available for waterskiing or wakeboarding. SUP board rentals are also available for the Wailua River. Please be mindful of the rain and river conditions.

Bike or walk the beautiful Eastside Bike Path in Kapaa. Visit Donkey’s Beach and Kealia Beach, both on the north-end of the bike path. If you swim at Kealia or Donkey’s, beware of windy conditions that cause riptides. There is a lifeguard station at Kealia Beach.

Spend time at Lydgate Beach Park. Swim in two protected lagoons and take your kids to Kamalani playground.

Hike to the top of the Sleeping Giant Mountain in Wailua or golf at the Wailua Golf Course. Visit Smith’s Paradise Tropical Gardens on the Lihue side of the Wailua River. There are many places to enjoy dinner in Kapaa or Wailua, like the Na Pali Brewing Company. Catch a colorful sunrise at dawn or a full moon rising over the ocean from an eastside beach or view the breathtaking Opaekaa Waterfall, which is about two miles up from the Wailua River.


Sunrise on East Side. photo credit: Kerry Oda

Welcome to Day 3 of Vacation Planner for Kaua‘i

Day Three: The Eastside, Lihue & Central Kauai

For dining and shopping options, visit Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

View the spectacular Wailua Waterfalls, just northwest of Lihue town. The turn-off for the Falls is between the hospital and Hanamaulu.

Go on a Sport Fishing or Sailing tour out of Nawiliwili Harbor. Golf the world-class Ocean Course at Hokuala in Lihue. Enjoy a helicopter tour of Kauai from Lihue Airport. Swim at calm Kalapaki Bay. Shop and dine at two nearby centers. Watch the sunset over Menehune Fishpond.

Experience Gaylord’s Restaurant or the Luau Kalamaku, both located at Kilohana in Lihue. Kilohana offers an authentic diesel-powered train ride on the Plantation Railway as well as the adventurous Kauai Safari Tour.

Avoid the rush hour traffic from Lihue to the southside and the eastside, between the hours of 8am-10am and 4pm-5:30pm.


South Shore sunrise, photo credit Kerry Oda

Welcome to Day 4 of Vacation Planner for Kaua‘i

Day Four: The Southside

Go on a Zipline trip with Shaka Zipline Eco Adventure. Golf at Poipu’s two excellent courses. Visit the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Allerton Garden located in Poipu.

The Southshore has a vast array of restaurants, some offering live evening entertainment.

Watch a free Hula Show at Poipu Shopping Village. Both Poipu and Koloa Town offer fun local style shops and art galleries.

Visit the Spouting Horn, west Poipu., For snorkeling, bodyboarding, surfing, or the perfect place to catch the sunset, stop at Brennecke’s Beach or Poipu Beach Park. You can also go on a scuba or snuba outing in Poipu.

Visit secluded Mahaulepu Beach. From Poipu Road, drive past the Grand Hyatt Resort on a 2 mile dirt road. Gates close at 6pm. There are no restrooms at Mahaulepu.

At Shipwrecks Beach, east of the Grand Hyatt Resort, hike or horseback ride along the scenic Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. Observe unique limestone formations on this trail. There is public parking near the entrance of the trail.

Kalalau Valley, Na Pali Coast, West Side, photo credit: Kerry Oda

Welcome to Day 5 of Vacation Planner for Kaua‘i

Day Five: The Westside

Stop by the Kauai Coffee Estates for tours and coffee samples. Make sure to check out the Visitor Center for a wide variety of products.

Drive up to cool Kokee and hike the amazing trails at Kokee, Waimea Canyon, or Alakai Swamp. You can also visit the epic Waimea Canyon and the high-elevation Kokee State Park. Visit the informative Kokee Museum. Drive to scenic vistas like the Kalalau look-out. There are many hiking trails in Kokee State Park. Bring warm clothing during the winter months. Camp-out, with a camping permit, or rent a cabin.

Swim and snorkel Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe. The towns of Hanapepe and Waimea Town offer delicious dining options. Shop at local art galleries or fun shops offering a unique array of island style items. Friday night is Art Walk Night in Hanapepe Town. Stroll across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge before enjoying the food trucks, shopping, and special events at Art Walk.

On the West side, cruises depart from Port Allen, Eleele, and the Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha. The Westside tour boat charters depart year-round.

For the super adventurous, head out to Polihale State Park. Drive carefully, as the road to Polihale Beach may be in repair.

The Westside has some of the best beaches to catch a sunset. Watch for the Green Flash as the sun goes under the horizon. It’s the perfect way to end a Kauai day.

Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your vacation.

Hawaii Immune Booster
Fault Line Novel
Coconut Music Video
Best Deals

Rotating Advertiser Video Ads

Air Activities Videos

Land Activities Videos

Water Activities Videos

Shopping Videos

Dining Videos