4-Day Kauai Itinerary: An Unforgettable Adventure
Kauai, known as the Garden Island, is the oldest Hawaiian island, covered with lush tropical rainforest. Some of the island is only accessible by ocean or air making it an exciting island to uncover. One thing you cannot miss while visiting Kauai is seeing the the Na Pali Coast, whether that is by hiking, taking a cruise, or a flight tour. Four days in Kauai is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of the Garden Isle and have time to relax on the scenic beaches. Plan an unforgettable adventure to Kauai with this 4-day Kauai itinerary.
Where to Stay on Kauai
Kauai is a small island but since you can’t drive on a large part of the island, it does take some time to get around. From Princeville on the north side of the island to Waimea on the southwest side of the island it can take about an hour and 20 minutes. Princeville is where many luxury hotels are located while Waimea is closer to Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park where you can find unique hiking trails.
If you want to save time driving, consider splitting your stay between the north side of the island and south/west side of the island. You can find many accommodation options on Kauai from rooms in a guesthouse to luxury hotels. Find the perfect accommodation for your Kauai getaway on booking.com.
How to Get Around Kauai
The best way to get around during your 4 days in Kauai is to rent a car. While 4WD can be useful for certain destinations on the island, it is not required for this 4-day Kauai itinerary. Rental cars are limited on the island so make sure to book your rental car in advance. You can book your rental car on Discover Cars which searches for the best deals across rental car companies.
Things to Know Before Visiting Kauai
- Book activities for your 4 days in Kauai such as a boat cruise and helicopter tour over Kauai ahead of time so you don’t miss out. You can find more exciting activities to do on Kauai on Viator.
- Kauai can be expensive, and that includes the food. Walmart in Lihue is significantly cheaper than other grocery stores. It is located right near the airport so its a good idea to get anything you will need for your 4 days in Kauai when you land on the island.
- Bring a white noise device. Kauai has a lot of roosters who are very vocal. Since the roosters can be found all across the island, most chances are that you will be able to hear roosters from your hotel. If you want to get a good night of sleep, I recommend bringing a white noise travel device like this one, especially if you are a light sleeper.
Read More: 20 Best Things to Do on Oahu
What to Bring for 4 Days in Kauai
- Reusable Water Bottle: Bring a reusable water bottle for your time exploring the island. This Water Bottle is light and stays cold for 12 hours.
- Hiking Bag: A comfortable daypack is helpful to carry everything you need for the day. This daypack is one of my favorite hiking bags.
- Hiking Boots: Make sure to bring hiking boots for hiking in Koke’e State Park and Waimea Canyon.
- Dry Bag: A dry bag is essential so you have somewhere to put your valuables when it rains and during your boat tour.
- Bathing Suits: Can never bring enough.
- Beach Towel: I take this beach towel with me on every trip. It is light, drys quickly, and is super thin so it barely takes up any space in my carry-on.
- Snorkel Gear: Bring your snorkel gear to snorkel at different beaches in Kauai such as Anini Beach. Even though the boat tours usually provide snorkels, it’s a lot better to have your own snorkel set that fits you right. I recommend this snorkel set which I used on all our Hawaii getaways.
- Sunglasses: For some reason sunglasses always end up being that one thing I forget to bring, so adding this to the list so you don’t.
- Sunscreen: Buy a travel sunscreen that is less than 3 oz so you can bring it in your carry on.
- Rain Jacket: Kauai is known as one of the rainiest places on earth, so bring your rain jacket so you can continue to comfortably explore the island when it is raining.
4-Day Kauai Itinerary
Select the Kauai map below to open the interactive version in Google My Maps.
Day 1: Explore the North Shore of Kauai
Start your first day in Kauai with breakfast in Hanalei town. A great option for breakfast here is Hanalei Bread Company. Afterwards start exploring the scenic North Shore of Kauai
Hanalei Beach is a nice long beach with views of surrounding lush green mountains. This beach is known for Hanalei Pier which is a nice spot to sit and watch the surfers. Since it is easy to get to it can get crowded so its best to visit early in the morning.
Next you will visit the most beautiful beach on Kauai. Hideaway Beach will most likely be your favorite beach during your 4 days in Kauai. The climb down to Hideaway Beach is difficult and requires going down a steep incline with the help of a rope. Make sure that you are wearing supportive shoes so you don’t slip and don’t bring too much with you. These walking sandals are perfect for exploring the unique beaches in Kauai as they are not always easy to get to.
Read More: 7 Best Secluded Beaches in Maui
Continue exploring the North Shore of Kauai with a visit to Anini Beach, a popular beach for snorkeling due to its wide reef. The beach can get narrow during high tide, so try to visit during low tide. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear! This snorkeling set is my go-to for snorkeling in Hawaii.
Hanalei Valley Lookout
Hanalei Valley Lookout is a quick stop for a view of the valley, taro fields, Hanalei River, and surrounding mountains. You will see this pull out across from the shopping center in Princeville on highway 560. You will most likely end up driving by it multiple times during your 4 days in Kauai, so make sure to stop when the weather is clear so you can see the taro fields.
Secret Beach (Kauapea Beach)
Secret Beach is a quiet and wide beach surrounded by rocks. From here you can catch a glimpse of the Kilauea Lighthouse. There is a 10-minute long walk through a wooded path to get to Secret Beach.
Finish your day exploring the north shore of Oahu by visiting Kilauea Lighthouse. It is located at Kilauea Point and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm. If you don’t make it in time to enter the lighthouse, it is still worth ending the day here with a nice sunset view.
Day 2: See the East and South Side of Kauai Plus a Bucket List Flight Tour
Start your second day in Kauai with a relaxing walk on Anahola beach, a quiet beach on the East side. We went here around 10 in the morning on the way to our flight tour and we were the only people on the beach. There is a parking lot located right next to the beach so it is easily accessible. You can find bathrooms and picnic tables next to the beach.
Wailua River State Park
Wailua River State Park is a must-see during your 4 days in Kauai. The first place you should stop offers two different viewpoints. You will see a view of Opaeka falls on the right and when you cross the street there is a view of Wailua River and mountains.
Next, continue on to the popular Wailua Falls. Wailua Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls you will see on your 4-day Kauai itinerary. To get to Wailua Falls from Opaeka Falls you will need to drive back through Wailua, as there is no road connecting the waterfall viewpoints. At Wailua Falls you can park in the small lot and walk up to the railing for a nice view of the waterfall.
Thinking of visiting another Hawaiian Island? Check out our 4-day Maui Itinerary
Bucket List Activity! Fly Over Kauai
A flight tour over Kauai is a bucket list experience you cannot miss during your 4 days in Kauai. This is the only way to some areas of the Garden Isle as they aren’t reachable by road. You can choose between a helicopter tour or an airplane tour.
The benefit of a helicopter tour is that you will be able to get closer to the natural wonders of Kauai such as Manawaiopuna waterfall, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast. On the other hand with an airplane tour, you may be able to see more of the island as they usually have longer flight times. Airplane tours are also cheaper than helicopter tours.
On our Kauai getaway, we decided to go with an airplane tour because it was cheaper than a helicopter tour and we got a longer flight time of 60 minutes. Our plane tour was also private (just us two and the pilot) which was a nice experience. It’s important to note that the helicopters and airplanes are small and the ride can get bumpy. If you are prone to motion sickness make sure to take motion sickness medicine beforehand.
Private Kauai Airplane Tour
Entire Kauai Island Air Tour
Air Kauai Helicopter Tour
After your flight tour, spend time relaxing on Mahaulepu Beach. This beach has soft sand and is surrounded by dark rocks and tidal pools. If you are looking for a quiet, off-the-beaten-path beach, make sure to add Mahaulepu beach to your 4-day Kauai itinerary. We spotted this beach during our airplane tour over Kauai and the pilot provided us information on how to get here. This was our first stop after our flight tour.
Directions to Mahaulepu Beach: Drive on Poipu Road past the Hyatt Resort Poipu. You will come to a split in the road where across the way is a horse stable. Take the road on the left and park on this road as close as your car can handle as it is a dirt road and gets bumpy. Then walk along the trail to the left down to the beach. There are multiple sections of this beach if you continue to walk to the left. The first section has nice soft sand, the second section is more scenic with views of surrounding mountains and large dark rocks.
Read More: 10 Best Beaches on Oahu.
Day 3: Na Pali Coast by Ocean and Waimea Canyon
If you are visiting Kauai during the summer, a boat cruise is a great way to see the Na Pali coast. Boat tours usually depart from Eleele on the south coast of Kauai. You can find a range of tours from 4-6 hours depending on the kind of experience that you are looking for.
Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour: Explore the beautiful coastline on this early morning cruise, allowing you plenty of time to continue exploring Kauai for the rest of the day. Bring your own snorkel gear or use the provided equipment. Build your own sandwiches included.
Na Pali Coast Super Raft Adventure: Spend 4.5 hours exploring the Na Pali coastline on a raft. Enter sea caves and snorkel (weather permitting). Have a chance to spot dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and more.
Na Pali Coast Sunset Boat Tour: Enjoy dinner and drinks on a Catamaran cruise during sunset with views of the 4,000-foot cliffs.
Unfortunately, during the winter, the ocean on this side of the island can be rough. If the weather conditions aren’t good then it might make sense to skip the boat cruise and instead spend your time relaxing on beaches or hiking in Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park.
Waimea Canyon Viewpoints
Waimea Canyon State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, with its red and green canyon walls, waterfalls, and river. This unique canyon will be one of your favorite destinations on your 4-day Kauai itinerary. There are several viewpoints of Waimea Canyon as you drive up highway 550 through the park. Most of these only require a short walk to see the view. You should take the time to stop in several different viewpoints to enjoy the views. At many of the viewpoints you will be able to see Waipo’o Falls in the canyon.
Hike Waimea Canyon: Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls
The best trail in Waimea Canyon is the 3.2-mile Canyon Trail. This hike begins in the forest and takes you to a spot in the canyon with breathtaking views. You will continue to hike to a small waterfall and if you are up for the challenge, you can continue to the large waterfall called Waipo’o Falls. This trail can be muddy so I recommend wearing hiking boots for better traction. If you don’t have hiking boots and are looking to get a pair, Amazon has a large selection.
Read More: 10 Best Hikes on Oahu
Day 4: Koke'e State Park
Spend your fourth day in Kauai in Koke’e State Park, where you will find many incredible views of the Na Pali Coast. You can follow the long road to different viewpoints and choose a hiking trail to explore more of this area. I recommend hiking Awa’awapuhi Trail which brings you to a ridge within the Na Pali Coast.
Na Pali Coast Viewpoints
There are breathtaking views of the Na Pali coast in Koke’e State Park. Although there can be clouds in the way, they come and go so be patient. The first viewpoint is Kalalau Lookout which is also where the Kalepa Ridge Trail starts. The next viewpoint is Pu’u O Kila Lookout which is further up the mountain. This second viewpoint is where a hike called the Pihea Trail starts. It is nice to walk part of the trail to enjoy more of the scenic Na Pali Coast.
Finish your 4-day Kauai itinerary by hiking Awa’awapuhi Trail, a difficult 6.2 mile trail to an incredible view of the Na Pali Coast. This trail can get very muddy so I recommend wearing hiking boots. The beginning of the trail is through the forest but about 2 miles in it starts to open up and you can see views of ocean and surrounding mountains. At the end of the hike there are walking paths to different viewpoints.
More Top Things to Do in Kauai
When we visited Kauai the road to Tunnels Beach and Kalalau Trail were closed. These are known to be top destinations in Kauai, so make sure to look into them and consider adding them to your itinerary. Unfortunately, I can’t provide much information on these destinations because we didn’t get to go.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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