Kauai is the oldest and least inhabited of the Hawaiian islands. 80% of the island is inaccessible by car and it's lush greenery earns it the title of the garden island. Because Kauai is small and laid back it’s a common misconception that there isn’t a lot to do it. But trust me, when your week is over you’ll be wishing you had more time on this beautiful island paradise.
Day 0 - Arrive
Land in the Lihue airport, rent a car and check into your hotel. We stayed at the Wyndham Bali Hai Villas in Princeville. It’s a nice resort with spacious condos perfect for groups and with a fully stocked kitchen, it's great for home cooked meals and dinner together at either the dinner table or outside patio seating.
Day 1 - Explore the island
Rent a bike in Kapa’a for $5 an hour from Hele on Kauai Bike Rentals and spend a couple hours biking the East side coast
After biking head to Sleeping Giant Cafe for lunch. They make a delicious katsu habanero chicken plate with rice and mac salad, and a mean Korean chicken wrap that will leave you talking about it for days.
In this same area, check out O’peaka falls from the highway lookout and nearby Wailua falls. When you get to Wailua Falls take the short hike down to the base and spend time swimming in the pool. The hike can get steep and muddy, but it's not long and will be so worth it!
Grab groceries at Costco in nearby Lihue for the week. Kauai is an expensive place so buying groceries instead of eating out every meal will save you tons.
Make diner at the resort and relax in the hot tub for a while before calling it a night.
Day 2 - Waimea Canyon + Snorkeling
Get an early start, pack a lunch, and make the two hour drive from Princeville to Waimea Canyon before the parking lot and trails get too crowded. Spend 2 hours hiking the Canyon Trail that dead ends atop Waipoo Falls, another one of Kauai’s big and beautiful waterfalls.
After the hike make your way to Poipu Beach, stopping at the spouting horn to see the water blow a few times.
In Poipu rent snorkel gear for $15 from the outdoor kiosk at the Marriott pool and spend a couple hours snorkeling around the coral reef to see colorful sea fish.
After snorkeling, on your way back to Princeville, stop back into Kapa’a at Ono's for authentic Hawaiian shaved ice. I recommend the east side sunrise with a snow cap and if you’re feeling fancy splurge on an ice cream scoop in the middle.
End the night again with dinner at home base and a soak in the hot tub. Your muscles will thank you with all the hiking you're doing on this trip. Get to bed at a decent hour because tomorrow will be another early rise.
Day 3 - Napali Coast Hike + Sunset Drinks
Make your way back to Waimea Canyon area for a hike starting close to where you started yesterday. The Awa’awapuhi trail is 7 miles out and back and ends at a viewpoint of the Napali Coast, when there is no cloud cover.
Head back home to clean up and then make you way to the St. Regis Princeville for drinks overlooking Hanalei Bay, coastal bluffs and a gorgeous sunset. You will also be treated to the nightly legacy at the St. Regis: champagne sabering. Very cool to see if you have never witnessed if before.
Day 4 - Sleeping Giant, Queens Bath + Hanalei Bay
Today you’ll be doing the Sleeping Giant Hike at sunrise. Get to the base of the trailhead on Lokelani road (there are 3 trails to the top) at least 30 minutes before sunrise. At just .2 miles turn left to head up the pine grove. Do not keep going straight or you will walk the side of mountain instead of going up. It’s easy to miss, but you’ll know you’re going the wrong way if you continue to see mike markers decreasing in length.
It takes about a half hour to get up and you’ll want to ascend the 700 feet to the top to watch the sun rise over the valley. If you can’t make it for sunrise this is still a beautiful hike with aerial views of the island and ocean.
After this hike bead back to North Shore where you’ll spend the rest of the day doing what Hawaii is best known for.
Queens Bath is one of those ocean swimming spots you cannot miss. There is yet another short hike to the rocks that form several coves in this area. Keep your eyes out for turtles and keep walking down until you reach an enclosed pool area where you can jump into Queens Bath and enjoy the water without the rough seas you’ll see in the coves.
Close by is Hanalei Bay where you’ll go next to soak up the sun, or in some cases (like ours) rain drops, from this beautiful stretch of beach. The water is calm here and no matter what kind of weather you get, you will enjoy it.
End the night with cocktails at Tiki Iniki at the Princeville Shopping Center. My top choice was The Iniki, but everything on the menu looked delicious.
Day 5 - Helicopter Tour + Luau
Start day 5 with a helicopter tour of the island! We booked the one hour early morning ride with Sunshine Helicopter Tours through Kauai.com it’s a great way to see the many waterfalls on the island, the Napali Coast, and all the natural areas inaccessible to people and cars.
After the tour stop at nearby Coconut Cup Juice Bar for a delicious pitaya bowl or one of the many other tasty flavor combinations they have.
Head back up north and make your way to Secret Beach. It’s a short hike down to the water, but this is one of the nicest beaches in Kauai, not too many people and beautiful clean sand beaches. The waves can get big here so you’ll likely share the water with surfers too.
No trip to Hawaii is complete without a luau! Smith’s Luau comes highly recommended and we enjoyed it a lot. There was about 500 people in attendance the night we went. The event starts with a tram ride around the luscious property, the Imu ceremony where they remove the pig from the Imu, the Hawaiian version of an underground oven. Once the ceremony completes the open bar opens and shortly after buffet dinner is served. The food was so good! After dinner you’re treated to a Hawaiian hula show representing the many cultures that have come to call Hawaii home.
We reserved the shuttle transportation for $25 each so we could enjoy our drinks and not have to worry about our ride back to the hotel afterwards. I’d recommend that for anyone looking to enjoy the open bar.
Day 6 - Napali Coast Boat Adventure
This morning you can relax, sleep in, or fit in some beach time if you’d like.
Reserve a sunset dinner cruise through Kauai Sea Tours. The boat takes off around 2pm and gets back around 7:30pm. It’s he best way to see the Napali Coast and a fantastic way to end and amazing vacation!
Day 7 - Say your Goodbyes
Head to the Lihue airport for your flight back home.
Kauai Travel Tips:
Wear mosquito repellent every day.
Prepare to pay premium prices for all food.
Costco has the best bang for your buck on food and the lowest prices of gas on the island.
Although the weather report may say rain everyday, know that rain is intermittent and ranges from sprinkles for a few minutes to a downpour for less than an hour. The temperature doesn't change much and the rain shouldn't impact your activities much either.