Explore Kauai in 5 Days

Advisor - Maya Wistar
Curated By

Maya Wistar

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  • Kaua'i

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Hawai'i

  • Outdoors

  • Sightseeing

  • Relaxation

A waterfall in the middle of a rainforest.
Curator’s statement

Kauai was the highlight of my Hawaiian honeymoon and I loved being able to see most of the island in just four and a half days. The Hawaiian island known as the garden isle, Kauai is truly that. Landing in Lihue felt like being transported to another planet of lush greenery and flowers and stunning mountains and valleys, not to mention great food. Follow this guide to see all the highlights.

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay

Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort

Relaxed hotel with modern rooms set on ten beachfront acres on Kauai's Coconut Beach.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

A quintessential island resort on 50 lush acres of white-sand beachfront on Kauai’s beautiful southern shore.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Lae Nani Resort Kauai by Outrigger

A serene tropical paradise offering beachfront elegance and relaxation on the beautiful island of Kauai

Advisor - Maya Wistar

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Day 1: Arrive in Kapa'a, Kauai

Green Trees on Brown Sand Beach

I recommend staying in the town of Kapa'a. It has great beaches and easy access to both the North and South Shores. Fly into Lihue, pick up your rental car and check into your hotel. I recommend the following hotels:

Day 2: Waimea Canyon and Na'pali views

Coastline from above

Waimea Canyon and Koke'e state park have stunning views of Kauai and the Na'pali coast. Though the roads are steep to get there, once you are in the State Park, there is a lot to see just from the car. Stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout and Kalalau Lookout for the best views. If you want to hike, there are a variety of trails by length and difficulty. The guides recommend the Pihea Trail in the morning before the fog covers the views in the afternoon.

Reward yourself with some Jojo's Shave Ice in Waimea after your trek.

For dinner, go to Luau at the Sheraton Coconut Beach or Smith Family Garden to experience local culture, food and dancing.

Day 3: Experience the North Shore and Hanalei Bay

People with shave ice cream

The view from Hanalei Pier may be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Spend a few hours on the beach here. Kids love to jump off the pier into the clear blue water. For lunch, go to Hanalei Poke (featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives).

If you want to hike the 11-mile Kalaulau Trail, the only way to traverse the Na'pali Coast, make sure to make a reservation several weeks in advance.

Alternatively, take a catamaran snorkeling tour from Hanalei and see the Na'pali views from the water.

Day 4: Relax in Kapa'a/Poipu, watch sunset & turtles

A beautiful view of the ocean with boats, clouds and stunning mountains in the distance.

During the day, visit the shops in Kapa'a. Go to the Taco Feliz food truck for lunch. This cozy spot for delicious tacos features green shaded picnic tables and of course a few roosters roaming around.

After lunch, drive to Poipu beach and spend a few hours in the bay. Rent Snorkeling gear for only $10 and see the beautiful fish swimming at your feet. Make sure to stay for sunset when 20-50 sea turtles come to sleep on the beach.

Day 5: Kauai, farewell

Beach Ocean in Kauai

Before you leave today, consider a Mountain Tubing or Ziplining adventure with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. You can also watch the surfers at Kealia Beach. Make sure to get some more shave ice and poke before you leave.

Need to Know

For more Kauai travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Cindy Rhee's guide, Eat, Hike & Explore Natural Beauty on Kauai.

Advisor - Maya Wistar

Travel Advisor

Maya Wistar

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawai'i.