Plan your own Kauai itinerary with this guide on how to spend seven days in Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island. From one of our contributing authors who knows the islands well.
How to Spend 7 Days in Kauai, Hawaii
Planning for a vacation is one of the most exciting things to do. It implies unplugging from the daily hustle and switching to relaxation mode in your preferred destination. It is important to ensure that you have fully maximised your time away when planning. One of the best destinations is Kauai, an island in the North of Hawaii.
Kauai, also called the Garden Island, has many beautiful and adventurous places that leave visitors with many ahas, ooohs, and awws.
So, how do you spend seven days on this beautiful island? Here is how:
7 Days in Kauai Itinerary
Day One: Arrival
Most visitors arrive through the Lihue Airport, and so will you. Plan for early arrival, from mid-morning hours to early afternoon, so that you can relax and make arrangements for moving around the island. Of course, you will need a vehicle, which you can get from a car rental service provider. Or, if you love your ride, you can learn how to ship your car to Hawaii to move around.
The airport’s location is convenient as it allows visitors to access great areas such as Poʻipū, which is great for your stay for the first 4-5 days. You are spoilt with accommodation, restaurant, and grocery store options there.
After checking in and having your car ready, switch immediately to vacation mode and forget about your city worries. Lock your room and go out to experience the local vibe. Discover the local brew and relax as you get ready to explore the unspoiled island over the next six days.
It’s impossible not to relax on the beach in Kauai
Day Two: Exploring Poʻipū and the Southern Shore
After a long flight on the previous day, you do not want to start your holiday with strenuous activities. That is why a walk on the beautiful beaches and exploring the surrounding area makes sense.
Make the most of jet lag with an early morning visit. Avoid wasting time looking for a parking spot because most visitors do not like waking up early, and you will park hassle-free.
Also, you get the awesome experience of watching the sunrise and probably getting kissed by its first rays. Areas of interest in Poipu and the southern shore are:
● The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail: Here, you get to enjoy scenic ocean views, cultural sites, and a variety of historical sites. You can also take awesome photographs from the trail.
● The beaches: Discover the beautiful beaches on the southern shore. They include the Poʻipū, Shipwreck’s, Brennecke’s, Kiahuna, Baby Beach, and Mahaulepu beaches. You can participate in a lot of activities in these places. If you love snorkelling and surfing, these are a must-visit! Want to see dolphins in their natural habitats, a variety of tropical fish, and turtles? The beaches provide fantastic scenes you wouldn’t want to miss.
● Polihale State Park: If you want to do something more engaging while at the beach, consider visiting the Polihale State Park. It is less touristy as most people do not like visiting the area. The dirt roads are in a condition that makes some car rental companies forbid visitors from using their cars in this area. However, you will enjoy a quiet time and a beautiful view of the sandy beach.
Explore Waimea canyon…
Day Three: Hike Through the Waimea Canyon
After spending the day enjoying the Kauai coasts and the southern shore, it is time to go for a physically engaging adventure. The Grand Canyon of the Pacific is another name used to refer to the Waimea Canyon.
During the tour, you will use your car, and in some places, you will be required to hike.
So, you will need to be prepared with quality hiking gear (see this hiking checklist here) and lots of bottled water. While hiking, keep an eye on the beautifully layered landscape with interchanging colours that will make you feel guilty if you leave your camera behind.
The canyon has beautiful waterfalls, and the colour of the water is red. The scene is unique since we know of blue-and-green-coloured water from different water bodies from an aerial view. The water’s red colour is caused by the rock it runs on.
Consider looking for the lookouts to maximise your adventure on the 23 km canyon and enjoy better views. The most outstanding ones are the Puʻu Ka Pele, Waimea Canyon Lookout, and Puʻu Hinahina Lookout.
You can also choose incredible trails at the Kōkeʻe State Park, which begins where the Waimea Canyon ends. While accessing these trails, ensure you are properly dressed in your hiking gear. The roads on these trails have a high difficulty level and are often muddy.
The stunning Napali Coast in Kauai
Day Four: Explore the Napali Coast
The Nāpali coast tour is the pinnacle of the seven-day vacation in Kauai. You can tour the area by air, land, or water. Regardless of the means you choose, you will enjoy many exciting places without breaking your budget. Here is what you get from each means:
- Water: Boats are commonly used to take visitors across the Nāpali Coast. During the adventure, you see beautiful waterfalls, sea caves, and marine life that are inaccessible using other means of transport. A boat tour company becomes handy as they know what to show you and where to find what you are interested in during your adventure.
- Air: Although touring the Nāpali Coast by air is the most expensive option, it gives you aspectacular view that you wouldn’t trade for anything. Flight tours take you over the Waimea Canyon, the Nāpali Coast, and through many waterfalls at close range. Some of the exciting waterfalls on your visit include the Weeping Walls and the Jurassic Falls. The tour pilots are highly knowledgeable, and they educate you about the history of the island as they show you around.
- Land: This is the cheapest means for your Nāpali tour. All you need is your energy, some snacks and lots of water. Though not as adventurous as the first two, it is great if you enjoy climbing and descending. Most visitors trek the first 3 km and then end their tour. There is a gorgeous view of the Hanakāpī‘ai Beach, and the waters can be tempting to swim in. However, you should resist the temptation since the strong currents make swimming dangerous.
Yet more natural beauty in Kauai
Day Five: Explore the local Wailua Region
After exploring the South Shore, it’s time to visit some exciting places from the north and other fun stuff. From surfing to kayaking to mountain tubing, the list is endless.
- Wailua Fall kayaking: Wailua River has some of the most beautiful waterfalls on the North Shore. It is not surprising that the place is always packed, and it can be challenging to find a parking spot. However, most visitors do not spend a lot of time on the attraction site. As the only safe river in the north to navigate, you can hire a kayak and a tour guide to take you on a thrilling adventure in the river. Some of the amazing river trails to explore include the Sleeping Giant Trail, Opaeka’a Falls, and Kuamoʻo Nounou Trail.
- Mountain tubing: This is one of the best outdoor activities to engage in in this part of the island. If you are an adrenaline junkie, here is a fun activity for you. The adventure includes swirling down old mine tunnels in a tube. The ride is bumpy and involves passing through dark tunnels. As you have fun, you also get to learn about the history of the old sugar plantation. Because visitors highly anticipate this activity, consider booking early enough to get a spot on your preferred date.
- Taste local flavours: If the idea of trying new food excites you, then you will love Wailua’s Kapaʻa region. Enjoy local dishes at ridiculously low prices in local restaurants.
Hanalei – more beauty in Kauai
Day six: Tour Hanalei
Because this is the north, outdoor activities are common. Consider taking surfing lessons and enjoy beach walks. You can also enjoy kayaking at the Hanalei River.
If you are enthusiastic about agriculture, you can visit some of the most successful farms on a farm tour. Here, you can be sure to experience a taste of the local lunches and Hanalei Taro & Juice.
Day seven: Departure
You can spend the last day of your visit doing what you loved most on the island. Some people prefer making more memories, while others use it to pack and get ready for their flights. Since most flights are scheduled for the evenings, you can spend some time buying souvenirs to take home with you in the local shops.
The Kauai Museum is a great place to hang around and learn about the island’s history. It’s also a great choice as it is located in Līhuʻe, the same place as the airport.
And that ends the Kauai itinerary. We hope you enjoyed learning about how to spend seven days in Kauai!
More on Travel in the United States
We love a good road trip through America. It’s such a fascinating country to drive through with so many different landscapes, stories, peoples and cultures.
Check out our other American road trip itineraries:
- Your two week road trip from New Orleans
- A fly-drive itinerary for the west coast in Florida
- Driving Massachusetts: road trips from Boston
And our useful prep guides here: