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Kauai Itinerary: 7 Days of Adventure and Relaxation in a Tropical Paradise

Welcome to my comprehensive guide to a perfect 7-day itinerary in Kauai, the Garden Isle of Hawaii.

Kauai is known for its lush landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and serene beaches. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Kauai offers a more remote and laid-back experience, with only one main road circling the island and connecting its charming towns and stunning natural attractions.

Kauai is the fourth largest island in Hawaii and receives significant rainfall, especially on the North Shore. Mount Waialeale, located in the center of Kauai, is actually one of the rainiest places on earth! While the mountain accumulates an average of 450 inches of year each year, don't let that deter you from visiting Kauai. Whether you're on the North or South side of the island, you'll experience some tropical showers, but they rarely last for more than 10 minutes.

The best time to visit Kauai is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant, and the tourist crowds are thinner. But honestly, any time in Kauai is going to be a good one.

Our base for this trip was in Princeville, located on the North Shore of Kauai. This 7-day Kauai itinerary will primarily focus on the North Shore's highlights, with some southern excursions sprinkled in.

7 day Kauai Itinerary

Day 1: Exploring Hideaway Beach and Golfing

Hideaway Beach

The path to hideaway beach, kauai
Hideaway Beach

  • Location: Near Princeville, accessed via a steep trail from the Princeville St. Regis Hotel.

  • Best Time to Visit: Any time of day - Mornings will be less crowded

  • Details: Hideaway Beach, also known as Pali Ke Kua Beach, is a secluded spot perfect for snorkeling and sunbathing. The trail down is short but quite steep, so you may want good shoes to ensure solid footing. The effort is worth it for the clear waters and relatively uncrowded shores.

Wailua Municipal Golf Course

Wailua Municipal Golf Course
Wailua Municipal Golf Course

  • Location: 3-5350 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766

  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning to or late afternoon to avoid the heat. We played in the afternoon after spending the morning at Hideaway Beach.

  • Details: A beautiful and affordable golf course with stunning ocean views. It's an ideal spot for both beginners and seasoned golfers. This was the most affordable golf course we could find on the island.

Evening Sunsets

A sunset over homes on Kauai
Sunset as seen from our AirBnB

Throughout your week in Kauai, prepare to be amazed by the golden hour hues of this tropical paradise. Whether you're staying at a resort or an Airbnb, expect breathtaking sunsets. The North Shore's dramatic coastline offers perfect sunset views, making for a relaxing end to your first day. This is what the sunset looked like from our Air BnB.

Rainbows Too!

A rainbow over a home on Kauai
We saw so many rainbows

With frequent tropical showers followed by sunshine, you'll see rainbows aplenty!

And Look at all Those Chickens!

A rooster, on the island of Kauai
So. Many. Chickens

Oh and prepare to see (and hear) chickens on chickens. Kauai has over 450,000 chickens that roam the island. And fair warning, they like to cock a doodle doo at all hours of the day - including the middle of the night.

Day 2: Hiking the Napali Coast

Napali Coast Hike to Hanakapiai Falls

A collage of images showing the Napali Coast to Hanakapiai Falls trail
Hiking the Napali Coast to Hanakapiai Falls

  • Location: Trailhead at Ke'e Beach, accessed via shuttle from Haena State Park. You can reserve a shuttle spot here. Reservations open up 30 days in advance and they book out very quickly, so be sure to book in advance! You can also get a permit for driving yourself, but those permits will be booked out immediately 30 days in advance. The shuttle worked just fine for us.

  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning to secure parking (or take the shuttle) and avoid the midday heat.

  • Details: This challenging hike is approximately 8 miles round trip with an elevartion gain of about 2500 feet. The trail offers stunning coastal views and lush jungle scenery. The Hanakapiai Falls at the end is a rewarding sight, and you can cool off with a dip in the water at the falls. The trail can be muddy and slipper, and it involves a few creek crossings, so make sure you have good hiking shoes. You'll also want to bring plenty of water as the heat and humidity will get to you. If you're feeling extra adventurous you can also backpack along the Napali Coast all the way to Kalalau Beach.

Wishing Well Shaved Ice

Wishing well shaved ice kauai
Hawaiian Shaved Ice. So Good.

  • Location: 5-5080 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714

  • Best Time to Visit: Afternoon, perfect for a refreshing treat after a hike.

  • Details: Hawaiin shaved ice just hits differently. Located in Hanalei, Wishing Well Shaved Ice is a perfect place to stop at to celebrate a successful hike.

Day 3: Surfing and Exploring Hanalei Bay

Surfing Lessons with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures

a collage of images surfing hanalei bay, kauai
Trying our best to be surfers

  • Location: Hanalei Bay, Princeville, HI 96722

  • Best Time to Visit: Morning for calmer waves and fewer crowds.

  • Details: This was our first time trying to surf, and Hawaiian Surfing Adventures provided a great experience. We booked an hour-and-a-half-long session for four of us to one instructor and by the end of the lessons everyone was able to stand up and surf their own wave. If you already know how to surf, you can also rent boards from Hawaiin Surfing Adventures for just $15.00. Hanalei Bay is a beautiful location to learn surfing with its gentle waves and stunning backdrop.

Hanging Out at Hanalei Bay Beaches

Hanalei Bay Beach
Hanalei Bay. Such a Cool Backdrop

  • Best Time to Visit: All day, but late morning and early afternoon are ideal.

  • Details: Spend your day lounging on the sandy shores, swimming, surfing and enjoying the picturesque views of the bay.

Food and Shopping in Hanalei Bay

A man drinking out of a coconut
Some Legit Coconut Water

  • Details: Hanalei Town offers a variety of quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's a great place to grab lunch, shop for souvenirs, and soak in the local culture. Coconuts, anyone?

Lu’au Kalamaku

Performers on stage at Lu’au Kalamaku
The performers at Lu’au Kalamaku

  • Location: Kilohana Plantation, 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue, HI 96766

  • Best Time to Visit: Evening, as the luau typically starts around sunset.

  • Details: Experience a traditional Hawaiian luau with hula performances, fire dancing, a delicious buffet of local cuisine, and an open bar. Bring on the Mai Tai's.

Day 4: Pickleball and Sunset Views

Pickleball in Princeville

A woman playing pickleball
Princeville Pickleball

Puu Poa Beach

Watching sunset on Puu Poa Beach
Exploring Puu Poa Beach

  • Location: Below the Princeville St. Regis Hotel.

  • Best Time to Visit: Late afternoon for the sunset.

  • Details: This beach offers stunning sunset views and some unique greenery along the beach. The access path is a bit hidden, but once there, you'll find a beautiful spot for a relaxing evening by the ocean. I'd suggest looking the beach up on Google Maps and following directions on there. As Puu Poa is a public beach, you can cut through the St. Regis Hotel to get there, but there is not much parking if you are driving to the beach.

Day 5: Discovering Waimea Canyon and South Shore

Waimea Canyon State Park

A woman look at Waimea Canyon
The Grand Canyon of Hawaii

  • Location: Southwest Kauai, accessible via Highway 550.

  • Best Time to Visit: Morning to avoid crowds and heat.

  • Details: Known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is a breathtaking sight. The drive from Princeville takes about 2-2.5 hours, but the panoramic views are worth it.

Waipo'o Falls via Canyon Trail Hike

A man and woman swimming in Waipo'o Falls
Taking a Drip in Waipo'o Falls

  • Location: Inside Waimea Canyon State Park.

  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime - Morning will mean less crowds.

  • Details: This 3.6-mile round-trip hike offers a moderate challenge with a 1200-foot elevation gain. The trail provides stunning canyon views and leads to the beautiful Waipo'o Falls.

Kalalau Lookout and Pu’u O Kila Lookout

A family looking at fog from Kalalaua Lookout
The view at Kalalaua Lookout...

The View from Pu'u O Kila lookout
The View from Pu'u O Kila. Patience is key here!

  • Location: At the end of Highway 550 in Koke'e State Park.

  • Best Time to Visit: Midday for the best chance of clear views.

  • Details: Kalalau Lookout offers stunning views of the Napali Coast. Continue up the road to Pu’u O Kila Look out for an even better perspective. The weather can change quickly, so be patient if it's cloudy. As you can see in the images above, there was a thick cloud cover when we first arrived at the viewpoint, but after walking up to Pu'u O Kila, the clouds parted and allowed us to see the magnificent Napali Coast View.

Poipu Beach

A turtle on Poipu Beach
Sea Turtles on Poipu Beach

  • Location: South Shore of Kauai.

  • Best Time to Visit: Afternoon.

  • Details: A great spot to see sea turtles resting on the sand! I'd suggest heading to this beach after a day spent in Waimea Canyon.

Dinner on the South End of the Island

  • Details: There are many great dining options in Poipu. Whether you're looking for seafood, local Hawaiian cuisine, or international dishes, you'll find something to satisfy your cravings.

Day 6: Surfing and Beach Day

Surfing at Hanalei Beach

Two woman holding surfboards at Hanalei Bay Beach
Trying to be surfers, round 2

  • Location: Hanalei Bay.

  • Best Time to Visit: Morning.

  • Details: We enjoyed our surf lesson so much that we wanted to spend another day surfing the little waves of Hanalei Bay. You can rent surfboards from Hawaiian Surfing Adventures. If you take surfing lessons with them, they'll give you a discount when renting boards, if you remind them that you took lessons with them

Day 7: Golfing and Sunset at Tunnels Beach

Princeville Makai Golf Course

Princeville Makai Golf Course
Playing towards the ocean at Princeville Makai Golf Course

  • Location: 4080 Lei O Papa Rd, Princeville, HI 96722

  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning.

  • Details: Ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the world, Princeville Makai offers stunning ocean views and challenging holes. It's one of the best courses in Hawaii and a must-play for golf enthusiasts. Fair warning, it's a pricey round of 18, but I've never played golf so close to the ocean.

Sunset at Tunnels Beach

A man surfing waves at tunnels beach kauai
Watching surfers at Tunnels Beach

a woman walking on tunnels beach during sunset
Enjoying sunset at tunnels beach

  • Location: Haena, near the end of the North Shore road.

  • Best Time to Visit: Late afternoon to sunset. Or early morning if you want to spend the day here.

  • Details: Tunnels Beach is typically famous for its snorkeling due to the underwater lava tubes that create tunnels. Funny enough, some major swells were going on when we visited Tunnels, so snorkeling wasn't in the cards. Instead, we watched a few surfers getting after it in the large waves. Overall, Tunnels beach is a great spot to end your day with a beautiful sunset.

Day 8: Departure and Final Stops

Nourish Hanalei

The view of Hanalei from Nourish Hanealei
The view of Hanalei from Nourish Hanealei

  • Location: 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714

  • Best Time to Visit: Morning.

  • Details: Before heading to the airport, stop by Nourish Hanalei for a delicious acai bowl and one last view of Hanalei Bay. It's a perfect way to wrap up your Kauai adventure.

Final Thoughts

Kauai is a paradise for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those looking to unwind. With its remote feel, stunning landscapes, and diverse activities, it offers an unforgettable experience. This 7-day itinerary highlights the best of Kauai, especially the North Shore, ensuring you make the most of your tropical getaway. Safe travels and aloha!


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Sierra Lifestyle

Hi, I'm Connor - a big skier who's had his share of life-altering injuries. I've turned my passion for the mountains into a lifestyle blog where I talk about outdoor adventures, injury prevention and recovery, and life hacks. Let me inspire you with stories, photos, and advice. 

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