Sometimes you have to take a break from this busy world and get to a place where you learn to appreciate life. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature in its finest. We learn to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature differently depending on where we decide to go. Kauai is a place where everything around you describes paradise. Kauai was the first island of Hawaii that we visited before heading off to Oahu and Maui. It has so much to offer, from the golden sand to the lush green garden, the waterfall and the grand canyon of the pacific to the tall mountains. That’s why I created this Kauai 7 Day itinerary to share some of its magic with you.
Kauai, also known as “The Garden Isle” can offer you all of this luxury. Kauai is the oldest and the smallest of all the four major Hawaiian Islands. It’s one of the most stunning places on Earth and popular movies like Jurassic Park were shot on this island.
Why would you want to go to Kauai?
You may be thinking that why would anyone want to go to Kauai and what would you be doing there?
Kauai is a place you are going to fall in love with after your first visit and you probably will want to visit again. This island is the definition of beauty with lush and green gardens. It is a place which you can visit without being disturbed by too many tourists as the place is less of a commercial center and more of a jungle. That is awesome because it will give you the time to take a break from your normal daily activities and let you relax.
The white sandy beach creates a perfect spot for relaxation. The top of the jagged mountains gives you a different view of the entire island. And the several wild waterfalls on the island will catch your attention.
There are local restaurants where you can enjoy a great Hawaiian meal. You can go to the local shops and buy handmade arts from the local artisans. You can take a hike and experience the island yourself or pay for a helicopter or a boat ride and have a different view of the island.
And a fun fact is that buildings cannot be taller than a coconut tree meaning that all of the houses you will see in Kauai will not be taller than 40 feet.
Where can you stay in Kauai?
If you are looking for where to stay in Kauai you have the option to pick one of the four shores.
The South shore is the most popular shore and there you will find a large collection of different resorts and restaurants. You will also find some of the most popular beaches on the island. Some of the places on the South shore are Koloa, Lawai, and Poipu.
Another place where you can choose to stay if you want to enjoy the rural experience is the West side. This place is closer to the major national parks and you can enjoy a lot of jungle hikes. The West side has Waimea and Hanapepe and it’s not as popular as the other places.
The North shore includes Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea.
The East side which is also the coconut coast includes Kapaa, Wailua, and the county seat of Lihue.
We chose Lihue for our Airbnb as it’s located right in the center of Kauai. It was very easy to get to each side of the island, and it’s the closest area to the airport. But rest assured that no matter where you stay on Kauai, you will not miss out on the beauty of this paradise.
When is the best time to visit Kauai
It rains often in Kauai and it can be as much as fifteen days in a month. But this doesn’t mean you will not enjoy your vacation on Kauai.
The months that you will experience the highest amount of rain is between November and March. If you are trying to avoid rain, then you can plan your trip to Kauai between April and October when it will be raining less.
The constant rain should not bother you as it doesn’t rain in all parts of the island at the same time. Some parts experience more rain than the others. In fact, the rains are usually brief and the sun will be out again shortly after.
You can enjoy yourself indoor before the rain stops.
How to get around Kauai?
Your best option will be hands down renting a car. We used the Turo app to get one. Kauai is a pretty small island and all of the roads are in a very good condition, so you won’t have troubles while driving. The public transportation is not that convenient so your best bet is just renting a car and exploring the island on your own schedule. Driving and navigating on Kauai, using Google Maps, was really easy. Our rented car was $128 for 2 days plus $33 for gas.
7 Day Kauai Itinerary
In this Kauai itinerary and travel guide, I will help you plan your 7 perfect days in Kauai. You can enjoy many things in 7 days on Kauai and visit the most important places that will leave you speechless.
This 7-day itinerary will include a list of places you could visit and the things you can do on Kauai. This will also include some of the places where you can eat at.
Day 1 – Arrive on Kauai
This is your first day on the island and I assume you will arrive in the afternoon or later in the day. The first thing that you need to do is settle down at your accommodation of choice.
It would be a great time to get familiar with the environment so you can take a stroll around the area you’re staying in. Go to the beach, unpack your bags, visit a grocery store to buy some snacks and water. You should treat yourself to a Mai Tai while you plan out your activities and relax after your flight.
Day 2 – Discover the North Shore of Kauai
Start your day by grabbing a delicious breakfast at Java Kai or Nom Kauai located in Kapa’a on the Kuhio Highway. It’s located on the main road that you’ll use to get to the North shore so you won’t lose any precious time trying to find it.
Our first stop is going to be a Kilauea Lighthouse. You have to pay $5 per person but the views of the North shore will be worth it because they are truly stunning.
Then, continue to another popular place called “Queen’s Bath”. It’s a beautiful natural swimming pool surrounded by rocks. Be careful if you’re planning on swimming there because of the waves and the strong tide. The trail to get down there can be very muddy so be prepared and bring another pair of shoes.
Later, continue on to the Hanalei Bay. The Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on the North shore of Kauai. It is not only the largest but one of the most beautiful beaches that you will ever see. It is located between two rivers. The Hanalei River to the right and the Wai’oli to the left.
Take your time there and simply relax. There are a lot of fun activities you can engage in. You can swim, snorkel, surf or just relax on the beach. Just make sure to enjoy your day.
While you’re on the North shore don’t forget to explore Maniniholo, Waikanaloa and Waikapalae Caves. All of them are located in the Haena State Park and are very easy to get to. The Waikapalae Cave was filmed in the Pirates of the Caribbean and it’s truly a very beautiful place to explore.
After that visit the Tunnels Beach on the opposite side and if you’re lucky enough you might even get a chance to swim with turtles. Never touch the wildlife but admire it from a far, as it’s forbidden.
On our way back we stopped at Kapa’a on Kuhio Highway to grab something to eat as it was a pretty long and eventful day. Coconut’s Fish Café was probably our favorite place that we ate on Kauai, and that says a lot as all of the food that we tried on Kauai was very delicious. We got local style grilled ahi plate and fish tacos and paid $33.
Day 3 – Sleeping Giant and Kapa’a
Kauai has a lot of mountainous terrains and that makes it a perfect destination for hikers. On this day I suggest you do something more challenging and adventurous and go on a hike.
Sleeping Giant Trail also known as Nounou Mountain will leave you speechless for sure. It will take you 1-2 hours depending on how fast you’re walking. It’s going to be hard but so worth it if you can make it to the top. Get ready to get your feet stuck in the mud as well, and make sure to grab a walking stick before you go. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t forgt why you’re doing it the view at the top is incredible.
If you can’t hike the Sleeping Giant, there are still other things you can do to enjoy your third day. You can spend the day exploring Kapa’a Town. This historical town has a lot of interesting places you can visit. The town is the home to a lot of artists and artisans who make a lot of handmade items
Day 4 – Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail and Poipu Beach
Get ready to hike along the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail. It’s a great coastal hike located on the South Shore of Kauai. The scenery is spectacular and it will take about an hour and a half to complete.
You can end your day at Poipu Beach Park with a swim. This beach is protected and it is safe for you to swim even if the waves seem to be hitting strong.
We also went to see the Glass Beach and Spouting Horn while we were close by.
Day 5 – Waimea Canyon State Park & Koke’e State Park
Your visit to Kauai is not going to be complete if you have not been to Waimea Canyon. It is also called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It’s at least 10 miles wide and the name Waimea actually means reddish water. The canyon formed by Waimea River and is a result of erosion due to constant rainfall on the island.The views that you’re going to see from there are epic and you’ll be totally blown away by them.
After that continue further up the road and stop at Kalalau Lookout. It will give you a glimpse of what Na Pali Coast looks like. It’s one of the best views on Kauai on a clear day. The Na Pali Coast is also one of the places you must visit if you want your experience on the island to be complete.
There are a lot trails that you can take from here as well, if you’re up for another hike.
Day 6 – Na Pali Coast and Polihale State Park
We started our next day by going on one of our favorite adventures on Kauai. The best way to see the beautiful Na Pali Coast is either from the sky or by boat. We went with the second option and we did not regret it.
Our next day in Kauai started around 5:30 a.m. because we booked “Morning magic boat tour” from NaPaliExperience which was at 7 o’clock. We gave ourselves 1 hour in advance to get there. The cost for the tour is definitely not cheap, as it’s $202 per person.
All I can say is that it was definitely the HIGHLIGHT of our trip. It was the most magical experience and so worth the money that we paid for it. There is a higher chance to see dolphins in the morning and we did saw a lot of them! They were swimming right next our boat, playing and jumping in the water. It felt thrilling to be on the boat looking at the stunning landscape of Kauai and being surrounded by dolphins.We saw the Open ceiling cave, Waiahuakua Cave, beautiful hidden beaches, caves, and waterfalls, which we wouldn’t see otherwise. We also stopped to snorkel at one of the beaches and ate sweet Hawaiian pineapple. We were even lucky enough to see a turtle.
After that you can continue to the beautiful beach at Polihale State Park. You can enjoy the rest of the day here but make sure to bring some snacks with you. You may need to come with your own shade or umbrella. The best thing to view here is the sunset. It is amazing to watch the day slowly transform into the night and the changing colors of the sky.
Day 7 – Final day / Heading back home
Now you’ve made it to the final day. It’s the seventh day and you are preparing to soon leave the island but the memories from the previous days will be with you wherever you go. Spend the last day making more memories. Visit new places that others have suggested during your stay that you have not been able to go to yet. It’s time to pack your bags and be ready to leave this beautiful island.
Another stop that we made before heading to the airport for our flight to Oahu was visiting the Wailua Falls.
Where to eat on Kauai?
Another place that I recommend is Scorpacciata. We got the Hawaiian and Vegan pizzas and parmesan fries with pesto aioli. I’ve never tasted such amazing fries! We paid $35 for all the food.
Also while you’re in Kauai you have to try the famous Hawaiian shaved ice. We went to JoJo’s Shave Ice because this is the place which was recommended the most. We got a small “Colada special,” and it was huge. We paid $8.
Another must-try place where to eat on Kauai is Shrimp Station. We got Coconut shrimp and garlic sautéed shrimp with red potatoes. In my opinion, it’s even BETTER than the famous Giovanni’s shrimp food truck that we tried in Oahu. For both plates we paid $27.
Puka Dog offers only Hawaiian style hot dogs but is a must. They also have a vegetarian option that I ordered. We both agreed that they were the BEST hot dogs that we’ve ever had. It was $18 for 2 hot dogs.