Because much of the Garden Island, including the Napali Coast, is inaccessible to cars, a week will just suffice to view its beauty. To save driving time, split your stay between the North and South shores (detailed below) or stay on the East Side, but avoid the main road at rush hour.
Day 1:Arrival, Lunch & a Scenic Drive
From the airport, stop by Hamura’s Saimin Stand or another Lihue lunch counter for a classic taste of Kauai, before driving through the bustling Coconut Coast on your way to the serenity of the rural North Shore . Soak in the views at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge & Lighthouse , and then poke around Kilauea’s Kong Lung Historic Market Center . After checking in to your lodgings, pick up snorkel gear for the next day.
Day 2:North Shore Hiking, Snorkeling & Exploring
Thanks to the time difference, you’ll have a head start driving across the nine one-lane bridges on the way to the end of the road and popular Kee Beach . If conditions permit, hike at least a half-hour out on the challenging Kalalau Trail, for glimpses of the stunning Napali Coast, or tackle the first 2 miles to Hanakapiai Beach, 3 to 4 hours round-trip. After (or instead of) hiking, snorkel at Kee and equally gorgeous Tunnels (Makua) Beach , accessed from Haena Beach Park.. Eat lunch in Haena, and then spend time in the jewel-box setting of Limahuli Garden and Preserve. Return to Hanalei to explore shops and galleries; after dinner, enjoy live Hawaiian music at the venerable Tahiti Nui..
Day 3:More Adventures in & Around Hanalei
Taking advantage of the ocean’s calmer morning conditions, the day begins on Hanalei Bay, kayaking, surfing, or snorkeling, or just frolicking at one of the three different beach parks . If the waves are too rough, head instead to lagoon-like Anini Beach. In the afternoon, try ziplining or horseback riding amid waterfalls and green mountains; the less adventurous (who’ve booked in advance) can tour delightful Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens . Savor views of Hanalei Bay and “Bali Hai” over cocktails at the St. Regis Princeville before dinner at Bar Acuda..
Day 4:Nature & Culture En Route to Poipu
After breakfast, head south. Visit Kilauea’s Anaina Hou Community Park for Kauai-themed mini-golf in a botanical garden or a hike or bike (rentals available) along the scenic Wai Koa loop trail. Stop for a bite to eat at a funky cafe in Kapaa, and then drive to Opaekaa Falls and see the cultural sites of Wailua River State Park . After crossing through busy Lihue, admire the scenery on the way to Old Koloa Town , where you can browse the quaint shops before checking into your Poipu lodgings. Pick a dinner spot from the many choices in the Shops at Kukuiula, such as Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza and Burgers..
Day 5:Napali by Boat or Helicopter
Today you splurge on a snorkel boat or Zodiac raft tour to the fluted ridges and pristine valleys of the Napali Coast, or a helicopter tour that provides amazing views of Napali, Waimea Canyon, waterfalls, and more. In either case, it’s an unforgettable experience—but don’t book this for your last day, in case weather forces rescheduling. After your boat returns, hoist a draft beer at Kauai Island Brewery & Grill or try the free samples at nearby Kauai Coffee. For helicopter tours, most of which depart from Lihue, book a late-morning tour (after rush hour); have lunch in Lihue, and then drive to Wailua Falls before perusing the shops, tasting rum, or riding the train at Kilohana Plantation, which also hosts the island’s best luau.
Day 6:Waimea Canyon & Kokee State Park
Start your drive early to “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon, which you’ll view from several breathtaking overlooks from Highway 550 (Kokee Rd.). Stay on the road through forested Kokee State Park to the Kalalau Valley Lookout , and wait for any mists to part for a magnificent view. Stop by the Kokee Museum for trail information for a hike after lunch at Kokee Lodge.. If you’re not a hiker, hit the waves at Salt Pond Beach or stroll through rustic Hanapepe, home to a Friday night art walk.
Day 7:Beach, Sightseeing & Spa Time in Poipu
Spend the morning at glorious Poipu Beach before the crowds arrive, and then head over to Shipwrecks (Keoneloa) Beach to hike along the coastal Mahaulepu Heritage Trail. Later, indulge in a spa treatment at Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kauai or take a tour (booked in advance) at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Check out the flume of Spouting Horn before sunset cocktails at RumFire Poipu Beach in the Sheraton Kauai and dinner at the Beach House or Red Salt .
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.