4-Day Kauai Itinerary: Best Things to Do
Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian island where you can see the Na Pali Coast, stunning beaches, incredible views, and breathtaking hikes. The Na Pali Coast is a coastline of high cliffs, waterfalls, and lush green valleys. You can see the Na Pali Coast in Kauai by hiking, taking a boat cruise, or booking a flight or helicopter tour. Four days in Kauai is perfect amount of time to see the highlights of the Garden Isle. This 4-day Kauai Itinerary includes the best hiking trails, beaches, activities and viewpoints in Kauai.
Where to Stay in Kauai
Kauai is a small island but since you can’t drive on a large portion of the island, it does take some time to get around. Therefore, during your 4 days in Kauai I recommend spending 2 nights on the north part of the island and 2 nights on the south part of the island. There are many accommodation options on Kauai from rooms in an airbnb to luxury hotels. If you are interested in staying in a hotel, you can search for options 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 and drive around the island to different beaches and hikes. While 4WD/AWD can be useful for certain specific destinations on the island, it is not needed for this 4-day Kauai itinerary. Make sure to book your rental car for your trip online on Discover Cars in advance, because rental cars can sell out and prices often increase last minute.
Tips for Visiting Kauai
- Book guided activities for your 4 days in Kauai such as a boat cruise and flight tour ahead of time since they can sell out. You can book a range of activities on Viator.
- Kauai can be expensive, and that includes the food. Walmart in Lihue is significantly cheaper than other grocery stores. I recommend buying what you need here when you arrive to Kauai since it is close to the airport.
- Bring noise canceling headphones or a white noise device. Kauai has a lot of roosters which are very loud, all day and all night. Since the roosters are everywhere, most chances are that where you are staying you can still hear the roosters. 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. I bring this device with me every time I travel somewhere overnight.
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 own snorkel gear so you can snorkel at different beaches in Kauai such as Anini Beach. It is also really nice to have your own snorkel set for the boat tour. I bring this snorkel set on all my trips to Hawaii.
- 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 comfortably exploring the island when it is raining.
4-Day Kauai Itinerary
Select the map to open the interactive version in Google My Maps.
Day 1: Beach Hop in Kauai's North Shore
Start your first day in Kauai getting breakfast in Hanalei town. A great option for breakfast here is Hanalei Bread Company. Then spend the day exploring the beautiful beaches on Kauai’s North Shore.
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. It can get crowded here because it is easy to get to, so try to get here early.
Next, hike down to Hideaway Beach. Hideaway Beach was the prettiest beach we visited on our 4-Day Kauai Itinerary. It is a small but beautiful beach with white sand and clear water. 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.
Anini Beach has a big reef which is perfect for snorkeling. The beach is really 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 see a nice view of the Kilauea Lighthouse. To get to Secret Beach you will need to walk about 10 minutes through wooded path.
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 and view.
Day 2: Explore East Side, South Side and Fly Over Kauai
Start your second day in Kauai with a relaxing walk on Anahola beach. Anahola beach is 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. The beach is right next to the parking lot so it is easy to get to. You can find bathrooms and picnic tables next to the beach.
Wailua River State Park
Opaeka Falls and Wailua River Views
Your first stop in Wailua River State Park offers two 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.
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.
Fly Over Kauai
A flight tour over Kauai is a must-do experience during your 4 days in Kauai as this is the only way to see some of the diverse landscapes of the Garden Isle. You can search and book helicopter and flight tours for Kauai on Viator.
We decided to go with a small airplane 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. On the other hand, the benefit of booking a helicopter tour is that they can fly closer to the natural wonders of Kauai such as Manawaiopuna waterfall, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast.
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.
After your flight tour, spend time relaxing on Mahaulepu Beach. This beach has very soft sand and is surrounded by dark rocks and tidal pools. If you are looking for a quiet, off the beaten path beach, you should make sure to visit Mahaulepu beach during your 4 days in Kauai.
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 follow 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.
Day 3: Boat Cruise and Waimea Canyon
If you are visiting Kauai during the summer, a boat cruise is a great option to see the Na Pali coast. Most of these tours also offer the opportunity to snorkel and you might be able to see dolphins and sea turtles. If you prefer to use your own snorkel gear, I recommend this snorkel set for all your snorkeling adventures in Kauai. You can search for boat tours and choose the best cruise for you on Viator.
Unfortunately, during the winter, the ocean on this side of the island can be rough and in this case it might be more worth it to spend your time exploring beaches or hike more in Waimea Canyon Or 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. Waimea Canyon will be one of your favorite sights 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 see the scenic views. At most 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 guides you through the forest until the trees start clearing out and you see views of the canyon. 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.
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. Sometimes there can be clouds in the way, but they come and go. 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 a breathtaking 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 multiple viewpoints so make sure to walk around the paths and explore.
Note: When we were in Kauai the road to Tunnels Beach and Kalalau Trail were closed. These are both known to be really popular, so if you are planning your trip to Kauai you should look into this beach and trail and see if you want to add them to your itinerary. Unfortunately, I can’t provide much information on those because we didn’t get to go.
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