A 5 Day Kaua’i Itinerary for Outdoor Lovers

A 5 Day Kaua’i Itinerary for Outdoor Lovers

Kaua'i is the emerald gem of the Hawaiian islands. With epic waterfalls, mountains, and beaches, see it all with this 5 day Kaua'i itinerary!

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Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary

Lush greenery, mighty mountain ranges, and endless waterfalls – Kaua’i is the island of outdoor adventure and unrivaled scenic beauty! While you can easily spend a week or more exploring every inch of this island, this 5 day Kaua’i itinerary shows you how to enjoy The Garden Isle if you only have a couple days to spare. 

Have less than 5 days? Feel free to nix any of the itinerary days included here that don’t speak to you. Or, if you have more than 5 days dedicated to your Kaua’i itinerary, I’ve got you covered too. You’ll find extra add-on recommendations at the bottom of this post.

P.S. if you already have your Kaua’i itinerary, and are just looking for some more things to do, be sure to read my guide to Things to Do on Kaua’i next! Also, if it’s your first time visiting the Hawaiian Islands, queue up my Hawaii for First-Timers guide. You’ll find some good tips to know before you go.

Now, let’s get into it. Read on for the ultimate 5 day Kaua’i itinerary!

RELATED: 20+ Of the Very Best Things to Do on Kaua’i

A 5 Day Kaua’i Itinerary for Outdoor Lovers

DAY ONE: East and South Coast Exploration

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - East and South Kaua'i

Welcome to The Garden Isle! Though it’s smaller in size than Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island, Kaua’i is one of my favorite Hawaiian Islands because of its natural beauty and slower pace.

Regardless of whether you’re flying directly from the mainland (AKA the continental USA) or from a neighboring island, you’ll be landing at the Lihue Airport (LIH). Most major cities on the west coast now offer direct flights to Kaua’i, which you can easily look up using this link. Otherwise, you’ll fly into Oahu or Maui directly and take a short inter-island flight to get here.

Unlike Oahu, I don’t consider Kaua’i to have a central tourism district. Tourism is more evenly spread along the perimeter, meaning a much more chill, dispersed vibe than you’ll find on other islands. 

Three of the more popular regions to stay in include Lihue on the east, Po’ipu in the south, and Princeville on the north shore. This itinerary assumes you’ll be staying in east or south Kaua’i for the first couple days before making your way up north.

That said, you can easily flip this itinerary around depending on wherever you stay. It’s totally up to you!

On day one of your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary, take it easy and explore some local spots near you. Then, visit a few “convenient” (aka drive-up) Kaua’i waterfalls before catching the sunset in Po’ipu.

If You’re Staying in East Kaua’i (Lihue or Kapa’a):

Kalapaki Beach
Rachel Off Duty: Kalapaki Beach, Kaua'iPhoto Credit: Go Hawaii

My favorite beach in Lihue is Kalapaki Beach. I would stay in the Marriott nearby with my family whenever we’d come to visit, and always wandered over to this beach to swim and play in the sand. I’m an ocean-beats-pool person any day!

This beach is protected by a breakwall, so you generally won’t find much – if any – waves. That means it’s perfect for leisurely swimming, learning to surf, or renting a paddleboard.

Speaking of, this beach is where I taught myself how to stand up on a paddleboard! Fast-forward 10+ years, its now one of my favorite water sports to do anywhere I go.

Kaua’i Rum Safari
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Kaua'i Safari
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Kaua'i Safari

Kick your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary off with a fresh mai tai and a rum safari!

Kauai’s Rum Safari takes you through absolutely stunning farm and tropical forest land. You’ll get a chance to see Kaua’i’s biodiversity while sampling Kaua’i-made Koloa Rum.

Koloa Rum is made using Kaua’i rainwater, locally sourced ingredients, and sugarcane. Sugarcane has a long and complicated history in Hawaii, with some key issues being land use and foreign involvement. What’s unique about Koloa Rum is that they’re working to rewrite the narrative, employing 90% local Kaua’i natives, collaborating with local farmers and landowners, and finding ways to sustainably increase Kaua’i sugar production. Some of the land on the Kilohana Plantation is even dedicated specifically to independent growing, allowing local farmers to harvest their own crops rent-free. 

All that to say, you can feel extra good about that sip of Kaua’i coconut rum. 

I learned a ton from our guides Courtney and Tiny, and had a great time! After your tour, head to the Koloa Rum Tasting Room and sample more rum or buy some to take home.

See reviews of the Kaua’i Rum Safari, and book your own safari using this link.

If You’re Staying in South Kaua’i (Po’ipu or Koloa):

Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

Start out your Kaua’i itinerary by strolling the 3.7 mi Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail. This mostly flat trail hugs Kaua’i’s southern coastline and allows you to discover sea cliffs, tide pools, native plants, and even some more unique Kaua’i gems like a cave with ancient petroglyphs, and possible monk seal sightings.

Po’ipu Shopping Village

You’ll find everything from boutiques and art to restaurants and live performances at Po’ipu Shopping Village. Live hula dancing takes place every Monday and Thursday at 5pm. In addition, a local Farmers Market is held every first and third Tuesday between 3:30 – 6 pm.

Warehouse 3540
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Warehouse 3540
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Warehouse 3540

Another small but unique shopping experience in south Kaua’i is Warehouse 3540. This warehouse is kind of like a giant hangar where you can shop from local makers and artisans. It’s a little out of the way (about 10 – 15 minutes outside of Po’ipu) but well worth the drive! If you’re hungry or in need of caffeine, you’ll find a coffee shop and a food truck or two parked out front, too. 

Best Kaua’i Waterfalls on the East Coast

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Waterfalls

For all of Kaua’i’s rugged, natural beauty, a whopping 80%+ of the island is actually inaccessible by car!

If you’re up for an adventurous vacation filled with hiking, helicopter tours, boat trips, or paddleboarding, you’ll be able to uncover more waterfalls throughout this 5 day Kaua’i itinerary. 

However, if you’re seeking a more leisurely vacation, today will be your best opportunity to witness some waterfall magic. Two of Kaua’i’s most easily accessible waterfalls can be found on Kaua’i’s east coast, about 30 minutes from Po’ipu and 15 minutes from Lihue.

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Waterfalls
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Waterfalls
  • Wailua Falls: Wailua Falls (pictured above left) is a powerful, gorgeous 173-foot waterfall that’s easy to view just steps from your parked car. As the historical story goes, ancient Hawaiian royalty or ali’i would jump these cliffs as a right of passage and symbol of strength. Of course, please don’t attempt that yourself!
  • Opaeka’a Falls: You can’t get as close to this waterfall (pictured above right) from the road, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Opaeka’a means “rolling shrimp,” as shrimp were once abundant in the stream this Kaua’i waterfall feeds into.

Sunset in Po’ipu

Rachel Off Duty: Kaua'i Itinerary - Sunsets in Po'ipu

After you’ve had your fill of chasing waterfalls, head to Po’ipu before dark to catch sunset on the beach. 

On your way, you’ll drive through one of my favorite pockets of Kaua’i – the Tree Tunnel that leads down to Kaua’i’s south shore. Once you turn onto Maluhia Road leading to Po’ipu, take a break from navigating directions on your Google Maps and be sure to look up at the scenery! 

Kaua’i’s south shore is an idyllic spot to watch the sun set, and Po’ipu Beach is my favorite area because it’s easy to get to and you’ll find ample parking. Bring a beach towel and find a spot on the sand for nature’s free evening show! 

After sunset, you might be thinking about dinner. Beach House is a popular, though pricier, spot (reservations suggested) not far from Po’ipu Beach. 

But, if you’re on a budget or looking for something quick, I highly recommend grabbing a hot dog (or two) from Puka Dog! Think Polish sausages, Hawaiian sweet rolls, and all kinds of tropical sauces. Sure, it’s casual. But if it’s good enough for Anthony Bourdain (RIP), it’s definitely worth being on your radar.

DAY TWO: Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Waimea Canyon

Now that you’ve had a day to settle in, day two of your Kaua’i itinerary involves a bit more driving, but a ton of beautiful scenery that will make it all worth it. Today, you’ll explore Kaua’i’s west coast!

Be sure to pack snacks and water for the day, make sure your gas tank is full, and hit the road early if you can. Clouds can roll in around midday or late afternoon and interrupt your views in the state parks. During your drive, keep an eye out for the “Forbidden Island” of Ni’ihau off in the distance! 

If you plan to do a hike (especially one that’s longer than two miles), I recommend driving straight to the trailhead of your chosen hike to tackle that first thing in the morning when you arrive. Otherwise, spend the day at leisure admiring Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks’ countless vistas and short scenic trails. You’ll have views for days either way! 

PRO TIP: As of 2022, non-Hawaii residents should expect to pay $10 for parking (per vehicle) and $5 (per person) for entrance to the state parks.

Koke’e State Park

About as far northwest as you’ll be able to go by car, you’ll find Koke’e State Park. This 4,345-acre state park allows you to sneak a peek at the unbelievable Na Pali coast, which you’ll be seeing up close tomorrow! 

While you’ll easily get great views from the parking lot, Koke’e State Park offers some amazing hiking opportunities. Before you go, know that the hikes in Koke’e are generally wetter and more challenging, and the hikes in Waimea are generally a bit drier and therefore easier (in comparison) if that helps you narrow things down!

Some Koke’e State Park Trails to Try:

Koke’e State Park Lookout Points Not to Miss:

  • Kalalau Lookout
  • Pu’u O Kila Lookout
  • Pu’u Hinahina Lookout (involves a 0.1 mile walk)

Waimea Canyon State Park

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary - Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is considered Hawaii’s Grand Canyon, or the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Here, at 3,400 feet of elevation, this 10-mile-long, 1-mile-wide canyon is a jaw-dropper. You might not believe, at first, that such a thing could exist in Hawaii. But it does, and it’s one of the many reasons Kaua’i is for outdoor lovers.

There are countless opportunities to turn out and admire the lookout points, take short strolls, or try longer hikes throughout Waimea Canyon. Plan to spend a couple hours here, if you can!

Some Waimea Canyon State Park Trails to Try:

Waimea Canyon State Park Lookout Points Not to Miss:

  • Waimea Canyon Lookout (involves a 0.1 mile walk) 
  • Pu’u Ka Pele Lookout

On your way back to your hotel, consider stopping at Hanapepe, Kaua’i’s ‘biggest little town.’ Here, you’ll find historic buildings, a handful of small shops, art galleries, and eateries. 

Waimea Canyon and West Kaua’i Day Tours

Don’t feel like driving or hiking? No worries! You can easily take a guided tour of west Kaua’i instead so you don’t miss out!

DAY THREE: The Na Pali Coast

Rachel Off Duty: Exploring the Na Pali Coast of Kaua'i

Hopefully, your jetlag is still helping you wake up bright and early, because depending on how you do day three, it could mean a very early (but incredibly worthwhile) wake-up call. 

The Na Pali coast – which you snuck a peek of yesterday – is one of the most iconic, picturesque coastlines in the entire Hawaiian island chain. Tahitian voyagers settled here in Na Pali centuries ago, completely suspended in time, for a while, due to this region’s extreme isolation. In fact, the Polynesian settlers who arrived in Kaua’i were the first to discover the islands.

Today, this formidable coastline is inaccessible by car, and the best ways to take in the view will be by boat, or by helicopter. 

I recommend choosing whichever adventure sounds better to you. But, if you’re feeling extra wild, you can do what I did and squeeze in both – the boat in the morning, and the helicopter just before sunset. This is no doubt of the most exhausting all-day adventures I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret it!

The Na Pali Coast by Boat

Rachel Off Duty: Na Pali Coast Kaua'i Boat Tour

Seeing the Na Pali Coast by boat is one of the best things to do on Kaua’i because you get to witness the view up close. In fact, some boats cruise right up into little nooks and crannies along the coastline so you can glimpse caves, waterfalls, and valleys.

Be sure to look down every once in a while, and keep an eye out for spinner dolphins – they like to hang out around this part of the island. 

I took this tour with Holo Holo Charters, and what I love about this tour in particular is that not only do you get to see Na Pali, you also get the chance to see the island of Ni’ihau!

Rachel Off Duty: Na Pali Coast and Ni'ihau Boat Tour
Rachel Off Duty: Na Pali Coast and Ni'ihau Boat Tour

Known as The Forbidden Isle, Ni’ihau is nearly impossible to visit, so I never thought I’d see it up close in my entire life. Little did I know, you can anchor about a mile offshore and snorkel at Lehua Crater, thanks to tours like this!

So you know in advance, the 17-mile stretch of ocean between Kaua’i and Ni’ihau can be a bit rough depending on the weather and surf conditions. Holo Holo Charters does their best to let guests know ahead of time if a Ni’ihau visit won’t be possible, at which point you can reschedule if you have time.

While the 17-mile crossing may be a bit much for those easily prone to seasickness (the boat carries ginger chews and saltines just in case), I believe most travelers will find it all worthwhile once you arrive. To be this close to Ni’ihau is something few will ever get to say they’ve been able to do.

Read reviews on TripAdvisor and book your Na Pali and Ni’ihau Tour here.

Or, if you don’t want to visit Ni’ihau, see all other Na Pali tour options here.

The Na Pali Coast by Helicopter

Rachel Off Duty: Na Pali Coast Helicopter Tour

If there was ever a time to take a helicopter tour, it’s here on Kaua’i. The entire island is full of hidden waterfalls, tropical rainforest, and unique terrain, like Waimea Canyon and Na Pali – all of which you’ll get to see on a one-hour tour. 

Seeing Na Pali from up high, you really gain an appreciation for the massive scale of this mountain range. I booked a tour with Mauna Loa Helicopters, which I consider to be the best Kaua’i helicopter tour. Why? They give you the option to fly with the doors on or off!

Rachel Off Duty: Best Kaua'i Helicopter Tours
Rachel Off Duty: Best Kaua'i Helicopter Tours
Rachel Off Duty: Best Kaua'i Helicopter Tours

If you do fly doors off, dress warm and make sure your hair is tightly secured. Don’t make my mistake, or else you’ll have strands of hair whipping at your face for the entire flight (spoiler alert: it’s painful, and not cute).

Read reviews on TripAdvisor and book your Kaua’i helicopter tour here.

Rachel Off Duty: See the Na Pali Coast on a Helicopter Tour

After your day spent exploring the Na Pali, you’ll likely be exhausted. I recommend spending the rest of the afternoon lazing away at the beach, followed by a refreshing local beer to end your amazing day. 

If you took the boat tour in Ele’ele, head to Salt Pond Beach, the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, and the Kaua’i Island Brewing Company.

If you took the helicopter tour in Lihue, hit up Kalapaki Beach and the Kaua’i Beer Company!

DAY FOUR: Wailua River and the Drive to Hanalei

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Wailua River

Today, I suggest checking out of your Lihue or Po’ipu hotel to spend the next night on Kaua’i’s north shore. But, before you do, you’ll want to spend the day exploring the Wailua River. 

While the Na Pali coast and Waimea Canyon are the most popular things to see on Kaua’i, the Wailua River is, to me, something you simply cannot overlook. Wailua River is considered one of the most sacred regions in the entire island, so be respectful during your visit and pack out anything you pack in (trash, food, etc).

My favorite way to explore the Wailua River is by stand-up paddleboard. But, I’ve also included options for those preferring something more leisurely!

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Paddleboarding Wailua River

PRO TIP: Before you start your adventure, I recommend grabbing breakfast and / or a pastry in Kapa’a town. My favorites are woman-owned Haole Girl Island Sweets (stuffed croissants, mac nut sticky buns!), and local-owned Passion Bakery Cafe (breakfast plates, sandwiches, mac nut sticky buns, and malasadas!).

Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard Along the Wailua River

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Wailua River
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Wailua River

The Wailua River is the only navigable river in the entire state, and it was once the home of ancient Hawaiian ali’i. What’s amazing about this river is that there are so many sights to see, and you can access most of them by kayak or paddleboard. 

Plan to spend at least 4 hours here, or 5 – 6 if you plan to picnic. Use this map as your guide, and choose between going down the North Fork and taking the short hike to Secret Falls, or heading up the South Fork to visit the Fern Grotto (which, I’ve been told, you can only do via paddleboard).

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Wailua River Hike to Secret Falls

On my most recent trip to Kaua’i, I visited Secret Falls and it was one of my favorite days spent on the island!

Rent your stand-up paddleboard from Kaua’i SUP, located just a short drive from the river. They will help you mount your gear on your rental car!

Or, if you prefer to kayak, check out this half-day kayak tour of the Wailua River. No chance of getting lost on your way to Secret Falls, and you’ll get an included lunch, too!

Boat Tours Along the Wailua River

Rachel Off Duty: Explore the Wailua River

For a more leisurely float down the Wailua River, try a boat tour. The Fern Grotto – a lush, fern-filled lava cave – is yet another example of Kaua’i’s impressive natural beauty. You can no longer go inside the Fern Grotto, but you can still admire it from a viewing platform.

The main Wailua River boat tour I’ve heard of is offered by Smith’s Tropical Paradise. Read reviews here to see if this tour is for you!

Driving to Kaua’i’s North Shore

From Wailua, the drive to Kaua’i’s north shore will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

By this point, you’ll probably be starving. I suggest making a food stop along the way before checking into your accommodation for the night. My pick is the Kilauea Fish Market – amazingly fresh ahi wraps, ahi burritos, and fresh poke!

DAY FIVE: Relaxing on Kaua’i’s North Shore

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Hanalei Bay

There’s just something about Hawaii’s north shore towns. Chilled out, slower-paced, and undeniably beautiful, Kaua’i’s north shore is no exception. 

While you’ll likely be staying in Princeville, I recommend spending your last day in Kaua’i soaking up the sun and the relaxing charm of Hanalei Bay. Once a thriving agricultural base for ancient settlers, Hanalei has a long history of importance to Kaua’i’s agriculture. Today, the town is one of Kaua’i’s most popular places to visit, and continues to be a hub of biodiversity.

PRO TIP: To get to Hanalei from Princeville, you’ll need to pass through a one-lane bridge. Follow the directions you’re given and be prepared to wait a little while depending on the time of day. To help ease strain on local populations that live in or commute to Hanalei, try to avoid hitting the road during peak rush hours at the beginning and end of the day.

Hanalei Bay Beaches

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Hanalei Bay
Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is a crescent-shaped bay flanked by jagged, misty green mountains. On a clear day just after rainfall, look closely and you can easily make out a handful of Kaua’i waterfalls. Told you you’d be seeing a ton of falls on this 5 day Kaua’i itinerary!

Visit one of these Hanalei beaches:

  • Wai’oli Beach 
  • Waikokos
  • Hanalei Beach Park 
  • Black Pot (don’t miss the famous Hanalei Pier!)

Hanalei Town

Rachel Off Duty: 5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Hanalei Town

After a nice, long day at the beach, finish up day five of your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary by exploring Hanalei Town. Here, you’ll find art galleries, coffee shops, bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, and surf shops to wander around in and enjoy. 

I recommend making a dinner reservation at Ama or Bar Acuda (my personal favorite). Over shared bites and delicious cocktails, soak up the last light of the day and reminisce on all the amazing adventures you just had. 

Other Things to Do if You Have More Time

Rachel Off Duty: Things to Do on Kaua'i

Have more time to spend on Kaua’i? These suggestions might not fit in a 5 day Kaua’i itinerary, but they’re great add-ons for those planning a week or more on The Garden Isle! 

  • Hike the Kalalau Trail (permit required): Arguably one of the most popular things to do in Kaua’i, the Kalalau Trail is well-known as a top Kaua’i hike. This 22-mile out-and-back hike along the Na Pali Coast is rated as very difficult, and is only recommended for experienced hikers that can handle long 7+ hour hiking days and overnight camping on the beach. If that sounds like you, you can check permit availability here (permits are released 30 days out). If that sounds too intense, you can still hike 2 miles in to Hanakapiʻai Valley without a permit!
  • Visit the Limahuli Garden & Preserve: Located in Hanalei, this nature preserve practices biocultural conservation. Basically, that means applying ancient Hawaiian land management practices to present-day conservation. The north shore of Kaua’i is one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire state of Hawaii, and there’s no better place to see as many endemic or endangered plants than by visiting a botanical garden.
  • Try a Surfing Class: Kaua’i has several great beaches for newbies to try this wildly popular Hawaiian sport. Depending on where you’re staying, take a surfing lesson from Hanalei Surf School, Po’ipu Beach Surf, Kaua’i Surf School, or Kaua’i Beach Boys.
  • Go to a Luau: In Hawaiian culture, luau are big gatherings to commemorate special occasions and to welcome visitors. Though pricey, attending a luau is regarded as a ‘must’ for first-time Hawaii visitors, and generally comes with an evening of entertainment, tons of local Hawaiian food, and drinks. Check out Luau Kalamaku, Smith Family Garden Luau, or Auli’i Luau, and be sure to book in advance.
  • Volunteer and Give Back to Kaua’i: Spending the morning volunteering on Kaua’i is a great way to give back to your favorite vacation destination. One of the easiest things any Kaua’i visitor can do is participate in a group- or self-guided beach clean-up.

RELATED: 20+ of the Very Best Things to Do Kaua’i

Where to Stay During Your Kaua’i Itinerary

Rachel Off Duty: Where to Stay on Kaua'i – Lodge at Kukui'ulaPhoto Credit: The Lodge at Kukui’ula

Wondering what side of Kaua’i is best to stay on? There really isn’t a better side, but there are a couple things you should consider. 

Po’ipu is going to be one of the most popular places to stay. It’s great for restaurants, swimmable beaches, shopping, and sunsets. Lihue is pretty central if you want to stay in one place and be within equal driving distance of Waimea and Hanalei. On the flip side, Hanalei and Princeville will feel a bit more remote.

Keep in mind, there is no road connecting the north shore to the west coast, so you’ll be looking at a 2-hour drive to get from Hanalei to Waimea Canyon.

Because of this, I recommend dividing your time between different parts of Kaua’i to reduce driving times and get a different perspective on the island. I like to spend my first few nights in Lihue and my last two in Princeville, and find that to be a perfect combo for quick trips.

  • Koloa Landing Resort (Po’ipu): A luxury condo resort with massive villas and kitchens / kitchenettes. While this resort is not located directly on a beach, you’re within a few minutes’ drive (or walk) to Po’ipu Beach. This property is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, which I’m a fan of.
  • Grand Hyatt Resort (Po’ipu): A giant resort property with a lot of daily programming and onsite amenities (like a spa and saltwater swimming pool), the Grand Hyatt is usually very popular with families. 
  • Koa Kea Hotel (Po’ipu): More geared towards adults, this couples-friendly boutique hotel is located right on Kiahuna Beach. I haven’t stayed here yet, but I want to the next time I’m in Kaua’i. I consider this one of the best Kaua’i hotels! 
  • Poipu Kapili Resort (Po’ipu): Plantation-style villas make this property great for couples and families looking to be more self-sufficient during their Kaua’i vacation. Despite the self-sufficient accommodations, this property still offers all the amenities you’d want, from concierge services to an ocean-front pool. 
  • Lodge at Kukui’ula (Koloa): A luxury resort that’s high on my list the next time I come to Kaua’i. The Lodge at Kukui’ula has a great reputation as one of the finest hospitality experiences on Kaua’i.
  • 1Hotel Hanalei Bay (Princeville): Inspired by nature, 1hotels is a luxury brand with accommodations around the world that feel more like environmental sanctuaries than hotels. Their Hanalei Bay property opens in 2022, and is definitely one to look out for if you can swing the ultra-luxe price tag. 
  • Hale Ho’o Maha Bed & Breakfast (Hanalei): For a low-key and more local feel, the Hale Ho’o Maha Bed & Breakfast is essentially a large home with 4 private suites, each with their own private lanais. Here, you’ll be just a short walk from the beach! 
  • Marriott Kaua’i Beach Club (Lihue): Located close to the Lihue airport, the Kaua’i Marriott Resort is where my family and I would come to stay when I was a kid. Besides being just steps from Kalapaki Beach, one of this resort’s most noteworthy attractions is its massive, flower-shaped pool with roman columns and multiple jacuzzi tubs. It’s one of the biggest pools on the island, and I’d bet money it’s one of the biggest pools in the entire state! I haven’t stayed here in over a decade, but let me know how it is if you do!
  • Other Hotel Options in Kaua’i (Click Here)
  • Kaua’i Airbnbs (Click Here)

PRO TIP: Some Kaua’i hotels will give you a discount or a free night’s stay just for volunteering! It’s part of Hawaii’s Malama Hawaii initiative, which you can get involved with during your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary.

See all volunteering options and participating hotels here.

Where to Eat and Drink on Kaua’i

Rachel Off Duty: Where to Eat and Drink on Kaua'i

This 5 day Kaua’i itinerary wouldn’t be complete without talking about where to eat and drink on Kaua’i. Here are places that I’ve either tried, or that are on my list for my next visit!

Other Tips to Know Before You Go

Rachel Off Duty: What to Know Before You Visit Kaua'i
  • Currency: The Hawaiian islands use the US Dollar (USD). Credit cards are widely accepted, but carry spare cash for food trucks, tipping at hotels, etc.
  • Language: Hawaii is the only state with two official languages: English and Hawaiian. However, English is the language you’ll use to chat, get around, and read on street signs. You’ll also hear a third ‘language,’ called Pidgin, which is a sort of English creole formed over the past two centuries as various generations of immigrants began coexisting here. Today, it all blends together into a unique version of colloquial English you won’t hear anywhere else 
  • Transportation: If you’re planning to spend the entire duration of your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary at your resort, you’ll be able to get by without a car. However, renting a car is going to be the best way to explore Kaua’i and successfully follow this itinerary.
    • Renting a Car on Kaua’i: Use Kayak to compare rental car rates or Turo to find peer-to-peer car rentals. At the time of writing this post, Hui, a locally owned peer car rental company, is only available in Oahu, unfortunately.
    • Renting a Camper or RV: Use RVshare to look up Hawaii RVs, camper vans, and the occasional rooftop tent. This option is perfect if you plan on spending a night camping in up in Haleakala or beachside near Hana.
    • Rideshare on Kaua’i: Uber and Lyft are both easily accessible on Kaua’i. Another contender is locally-owned Holoholo, which functions the same way as the other rideshare apps you’re already used to. Regardless of which rideshare app you use, be prepared for limited availability as Kaua’i has one of the smallest populations of the main, visitable Hawaiian islands.
    • Public Transportation on Kaua’i: The public bus system, called Kaua’i Bus, is a generally reliable and inexpensive way to explore the island. Kaua’i Bus services the south, east, and north Kaua’i regions from Kekaha to Hanalei.
    • Bike: There are lots of bike rental providers in Kaua’i, whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride or a circle-island tour. Check out Hele On Kaua’i Bike Rentals, Coconut Coasters, or Boss Frog.
  • When is the Best Time to Visit Kaua’i? There is no “bad” time to visit Kaua’i. However, this is the wettest island in Hawaii, so rain is a common occurrence! In general, peak season for Kaua’i travel is in the summer and around the holidays. So, if you want to avoid the crowds during your 5 day Kaua’i itinerary, go in the spring or fall. While December is the rainiest month in Kaua’i, this is also the start of whale watching season. Come between December and April if whale watching is high on your wishlist!
  • Etiquette for First-Time Visitors: To avoid any unfortunate travel bloops, be sure to check out my Hawaii trip planning guide next. This breaks down everything you’ll want to know before you go to Hawaii! Safe travels!

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5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Rachel Off Duty
5 Day Kaua'i Itinerary – Rachel Off Duty

Hey there! I’m Rachel, a travel writer and a full-time advertising / marketing expert. In 2019, I traveled more than 25 times while working 9 to 5, and since then I’ve committed myself to living a more adventurous life, even if it means bringing my laptop along for the ride.

Are you hungry to travel more, but overwhelmed with how to juggle work and play? You’ve come to the right place!

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