4 Days in Kauai!

Kauai’i is so incredible! My boyfriend and I visited in June and the weather was nice the entire time! We rented a Jeep, because it’s the thing to do, and ensures off-roading capability everywhere! Check out where we stayed and what we ate at the end of this post!

TIP: Make sure you schedule the excursions prior to your trip to ensure there are enough spots for what you want to do!

Here are my TOP 8 Recommendations for Kauai:

  1. Explore the Na Pali Coast via Boat/Zodiac Raft – MUST DO!
  2. Explore the Na Pali and Kauai via Helicopter
  3. Kalalau Lookout (First thing on a clear day!!! – Before Waimea Canyon)
  4. Visit Waimea Canyon – “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”
  5. Polihale State Park for the BEST sunset! – 4WD Recommended
  6. Secret Beach (Kauapea Beach)
  7. Hanalei Bay + Princeville
  8. Walk around Hanapepe Town + Farmers Market


Here are 8 Other AMAZING recommendations that I wanted to try, but were still closed because of all the flooding that happened in 2018:

  1. Hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls (8 miles total)
  2. Kalalau Trail (Na Pali Coast Hike 22-miles Round Trip)
  3. Kalepa Ridge (Not safe on a rainy day)
  4. Tunnels/Makua Beach (Amazing snorkeling)
  5. Ho’opi’i Falls – 4 Miles total near Kapa’a (super muddy at times)
  6. Dry Caves at Haena
  7. Backcountry Tubing (check out videos on Youtube)
  8. Queens Bath (best in Summer time)


Day 1 – EAST SIDE | Hike and Helicopter

We flew into Lihue in the morning and the first thing we did was grab the Jeep and begin our adventure!

Sleeping Giant Hike – The Nounou Trail is about 3.4 miles total and rated as moderate. It was pretty steep in some parts, but thankfully it was dry (it does get very muddy when it rains though). We ended up taking the wrong route at one point and sort of rock climbed our way up, but eventually we made it to the top. There is a nice picnic area and right before going up the last set of rocks, you can take the small path to the left to a puka (or hole) in the rock that looks through to the other side! We spent about a half-hour up there taking in the views of the beautiful coast and lush green fields. Check out the hike on All Trails!

Helicopter Tour – Coming to Kauai we didn’t know if we wanted to do a helicopter or a boat tour along the Na Pali Coast. We decided that we definitely wanted to do the helicopter tour and did a quick Google search while we were on top of Sleeping Giant for the different helicopter tour companies and read through the reviews. My sister had recently used Safari Helicopters and the reviews were great, so we decided to go with them. We just did the basic tour and it was really incredible! However; it was sort of difficult to take photos because of the reflection from the windows, so try and get a front seat for the best views! The pilot was very experienced and pretty entertaining throughout the entire trip. Seeing the Na Pali Coast from the sky was definitely the best part, but we traveled around the entire island for about an hour. We also got to see the Manawaiopuna Falls (the iconic Jurassic Park Falls) from the sky – some tours include a stop for lunch at the waterfall! There are other helicopter companies that fly without doors, which I would recommend if you’re trying to get incredible and clear photos. Jack Harter Helicopters | Here’s a cool blog post I found from a couple reviewing the Jack Harter Helicopter Tour.  | Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours also flies with the doors off!

The Na Pali Coast via Helicopter! It was a little difficult to take photos without the window reflection – choose a company with the doors off option if you’re goal is to take incredible photos!



Opaeka’a Falls – After the helicopter tour and while we were still in the Lihue, we quickly drove up to ‘Opaeka’a Falls and the Wailua River lookout. Once you park at the “‘Opaeka’a Falls View” it’s a short walk along the road to view the 151-foot waterfall, cross the street and take in the beautiful view of a bend in the Wailua River (little did we know, we would soon kayak to the Secret Falls on that river).

Wailua Falls – Nearby is Wailua Falls which is a 173-foot waterfall and popular for swimming in the pool down below, just be safe as the path is very steep and slippery.

Wailua Falls

We made our way into Poipu which is where we chose to stay for this vacation (More info below). We checked into our condo and made our way over to The Shops at Kukui’ula to grab some snacks and toiletries. This area is also where we at the majority of our dinners! There were so many options to choose from! Check out best places to eat in Kauai here!

We had dinner at the Beach House which was a 5-minute walk from our condo and had an incredible meal – I highly recommend this restaurant whether you’re visiting Kauai or even the North Shore of Oahu!


Day 2 – EAST SIDE (Round 2) | Kayaking + Waterfalls

Wailua River Kayak Excursion to Secret Falls – We woke up bright an early, made PB&J’s and headed back up to Wailua for the kayak and waterfall adventure! The only way to get to Secret Falls, also known as Uluwehi Falls, is by a kayak excursion on the Wailua River and a short hike through the jungle. There are many different options for this excursion with a guided tour, but we opted to just rent our own kayaks and hike on our own up to the falls. We did another quick Google search and decided to rent through Wailua River Kayaking. We called the evening prior to reserve two single person kayaks (although it should have just been one because kayaking is hard) and you can also just make reservations on their website here. Wailua River Kayaking is located at 162 Wailua Road in Kapa’a – right next to the river, so you don’t have to strap the kayaks to the top of your vehicle or anything (which is nice). They also provide coolers, dry bags (for your cell phone and valuables), life vests and a river map (though we didn’t need it). It was $50 per paddler for the 5-hour kayak rental ($30 for children ages 5-7). It’s closed on Sundays so plan your trip accordingly. Lastly, they have two check-in times 7am and 12pm. They recommended the 7am (though it was pretty early) because the currents get stronger as the day goes on. Be sure to wear sunscreen or a shirt to cover your shoulders because you’ll be in the sun for the majority of the kayaking journey.


Secret Falls + Hike – After about an hour or so kayaking (because I was slow), we made it to the kayak docking beach (which cannot be missed). Take any valuables with you because you will leave the kayaks there while you hike to the falls. We caught up with one of the tours while we were crossing the river, but passed them a few minutes later and thankfully beat the rush to the falls. It was a beautiful trail along the river with a few muddy spots. There are roots everywhere so you had to watch your step, but the trail was mostly flat and very shaded. It’s only about a 1.5-mile hike and the waterfall was incredible! There was a small waterfall on the way to the big one, so don’t be disappointed because the falls and pool follow shortly after. We sat by the falls and ate our PB&Js before making the short trek back to the kayaks. Some of the guided tours provide sandwiches and Hawaiian fruits! I was glad we chose not to do the tour because we had the waterfall to ourselves for a few minutes before the next group showed up and it got a little crowded.

The total adventure took about four hours and included a total of 4 miles kayaking and 3 miles hiking. With the 5-hour rental, we could’ve spent more time at the falls, it was just a little chilly back in the jungle by the waterfall (and there were a lot of mosquitoes so bring bug spray!). Overall, I definitely recommend this adventure if you’re up for a day of exercise and beautiful views!


On our way back to the condo, we stopped at an amazing boba tea place in Lihue and later had dinner at the Shops at Kukui’ula. Check out the details here!


Day 3 – WEST SIDE | Na Pali Coast by Boat + Waimea Canyon

Capt. Andy’s Na Pali Coast Raft Tour – Alright, so the Na Pali Coast by helicopter was pretty incredible…but the zodiac raft expedition was one of the coolest and most beautiful experiences of my life! If you do one thing the entire time you’re in Kauai it should be some sort of cruise or boat tour along the Na Pali. Again, make sure you sign up for the type of cruise you want a few days prior (or more) so that you get the experience that you want. There are many different companies and types of adventures. For example, there are dinner cruises, day expeditions, snorkel adventures and more! We used Capt. Andy’s Sailing Adventures and it was an awesome experience. I couldn’t find the exact option that we did but we went early in the morning, drove up the coast (the sun was pretty bright) and then traveled slowly in and out of caves on the way back taking in the breathtaking views. We saw so many dolphins and had a quick snack lunch on the way back. If you’re looking to jump off the boat/possibly swim with dolphins, I would suggest one of the snorkeling tours. If you’re looking for an evening cruise with a nice dinner – then the dinner cruise option! There is a little something for everyone. I recommend Capt. Andy’s “Na Pali Raft Day Expedition.” It is 6 hours long, and includes an expedition down the Na Pali Coast, snorkeling a remote beach, a small hike, and a picnic lunch! It is $225 for adults and $175 for children (over 6). It would TOTALLY be worth the money though. The rafting option is usually only available in the summer months due to the high seas in the winter and due to the bumpy and bouncing nature of the ride they cannot accommodate pregnant women, anyone with back or neck issues, or children under 6 years old. It was definitely an arm workout hanging onto the raft when we were gliding across the beautiful blue waters.


If you’re up in the air (haha) between the Helicopter Tour and a Na Pali Coast Boat Tour, I recommend the boat tour because you will spend more time experiencing the incredible views and it’s a more immersing and memorable experience.


Waimea Canyon – Around 10:30am we made the drive up to Waimea Canyon! Waimea Canyon is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and is approximately 10 miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep. It was pretty incredible, even after just seeing the entire Na Pali Coast… there are just so many different things to see on Kauai! We stopped at multiple lookouts along the drive up to the main “Waimea Canyon Lookout” where you get a view of the entire canyon and can see Waipo’o Falls, the 800-foot double waterfall. At this major lookout, they were selling local Hawaiian fruit and snacks…we bought some and ate it with the chickens at the picnic area a few miles up the road. There are also tons of hikes inside Waimea Canyon like the Iliau Nature Trail, the Kukui Trail, or the Waipo’o Falls and Canyon Trail. When I make it back to Kauai someday I will do the Kalepa Ridge Trail– it is closed on All Trails, but it looks incredible. Just be careful because it is super steep in areas and can be very dangerous on a rainy day.


Kalalau Lookout – About 20 minutes further up Koke’e Road is the Kalalau Lookout. It opens to an expansive view over the Kalalau Valley, the biggest one on the Na Pali Coast. This is one of the best views in Kauai and possibly all of Hawaii (If the weather is clear). Unfortunately, by the time we got up there around 12pm, the clouds were completely socked in and we couldn’t see anything at all. I was really looking forward to this view, so make sure you go on a clear day and try and go first thing in the morning (before you stop at the Waimea Canyon lookouts). If it is clear, drive a mile up the road to the Pu’u O Kila Overlook which is supposedly even better.

Kalalau Lookout Kauai.jpg
This is definitely not my own photo…by the time we got up to the lookout, the clouds had already came in and it was like looking out at a while wall. Make sure you drive up here BEFORE stoping at the Waimea Canyon lookouts and try to choose the clearest day possible!

Kekaha Beach Park – 15 miles of beautiful white sand. If you’ve been to Lanikai Beach on Oahu, the sand was practically the same, super fine and super white. We stopped here for about an hour between our Waimea Canyon adventure and Hanapepe. The beach is right off the road and very long and wide so we picked an area to ourselves and soaked in the sun for a bit. It did start getting windy as the afternoon went on, so we made our way back into town.

Glass Beach – On our way into Hanapepe we decided to stop by the Glass Beach. It was a little weird getting there and we thought we were in the wrong area because it is past the industrial area along Aka Ula Street, but it can easily be found on Google Maps. I mostly wanted to go because I’ve seen the Black and Red Sand beaches on Maui and wanted to see what this glass “sand” was all about! It was a cool stop, but we didn’t stay too long before grabbing dinner and heading to Hanapepe to walk across the bridge before checking out the sunset up the coast.

Hanapepe + Swinging Bridge – Hanapepe means “crushed bay” and is “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town.” It is a cute town to stop in for a meal and walk around at any time of day. Take a walk across the swinging bridge and visit the green house on the other side to check out the Bridge Gallery which is owned by Jan and her husband and open Wednesday-Sunday 9:30am-5:30pm. They sell photos and art from different areas around Kauai (I bought a card with a beautiful photo of the Kalalau Lookout since I couldn’t see it myself). While planning your trip, Friday nights are “Art Night” in Hanapepe where approximately 16 galleries open their doors from 6-9pm for tourists and locals to enjoy the local art and food. If you’re into that it’s great after a beach day or a “night-out”.


Polihale State Park – THE BEST SUNSET! Have you ever heard of the “Green Flash?” We had read that you’d be able to see it from this beach…and we DID! We were super focused and waiting for it to happen and we were pretty excited when it did! We only drove out here about 30 minutes before sunset, but you could spend a whole day at this beach taking in the views of the sacred cliffs, the beautiful white sand and swim in the bright blue ocean. I definitely recommend 4WD for this trip because the road was insanely bumpy – we even had to drive super slow in the jeep because the bumps and potholes were so bad. We drove back to the condo in the dark and went out for another dinner at the trusty Shops at Kukui’ula.



Day 4 – NORTH SHORE | Hanalei Bay + Secret Beach

Spouting Horn – Right after checking out of our condo, we headed down the road to check out Spouting Horn before making the drive up to the North Shore for the day. Spouting Horn is basically just a blowhole which sprays every other minute or so. It was cool to see and there were a bunch of souvenir and jewelry booths along the path to the lookout. We only spent a few minutes there before heading up the coast. If you’re staying in Poipu, you can check this out at any point, we just wanted to see it before we left!


Kilauea Light House – Make sure you check the hours before trying to go to the lighthouse. Currently it is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm and closed Sunday-Monday. Entrance is $5 for anyone over 16 years old. Even if it is closed, you can still see the incredible view of the lighthouse and the inlet. This is a great place for bird watching and whale watching in the winter and spring.


Princeville – Some people choose to stay at the resorts or condos in Princeville, but we didn’t find much to do there other than drive around the resorts and check out the golf course. However, some recommendations for Princeville are: the Princeville Botanical Gardens, Queen’s Bath, Hideaway Beach, and Turtle Cove.

Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Lookout/Hanalei Valley Overlook – On our way out of Princeville we stopped here for a few minutes and took in the incredible views of the lush green valley.


Hanalei Bay – The one thing I was really looking forward to on the North Shore was Hanalei Bay! It is a crescent-moon-shaped, 2-mile long stretch of soft white sand. Parking was pretty tough since everything past Hanalei was closed off because of construction from the flooding. We walked the beach to the pier and back and enjoyed the beach for a while. This area is great for learning to surf and relaxing on the beach.


Hanalei – We walked around the Ching Young Village Shopping Center and picked up a few souvenirs and ate delicious snow cones at Wishing Well Shave Ice. I’d been wanting to visit this shaved ice shop ever since I watched the movie “Given.” The movie features the Goodwin’s (who co-own the shop) as they travel the world surfing, and its narrated by their first-born son, Given. The movie used to be on Netflix, but you can find it on Amazon Prime Video, Youtube and iTunes now. Their shaved ice and iced coffee is incredible and they have a bunch of cool hats, stickers and apparel (you can shop online here). I think I ended up buying every sticker option they had while I was there!

Secret Beach – Also known as Kauapea Beach might be one of my favorite beaches out of all the Hawaiian Islands. The cliffs surrounding this beach sort of reminded me of the California Coast, except it was much warmer and the water was much more blue. It is a bit of a walk down a steep trail (approx. 10 minutes), but the short hike is definitely worth it! There is a small waterfall halfway down the beach, tide pools, and great swimming. Apparently the waves get pretty rough in the winter, so be careful if the waves are pounding. You can also see the Kilauea Lighthouse from the Cliffside at the east end of the beach. We spent a few hours at this beach and hiked our way back up the trail to the car. Make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and an umbrella if you want to be shaded – the trees are pretty far from the water!


After the beach, we stopped for one last meal before our flight back to Oahu. We at dinner at Duke’s at the Marriott’s Kauai Resort. If you’re on Oahu or Kauai, you must stop by Duke’s for a remarkable dinner experience with unbelievable views.

Our trip probably wasn’t the most conventional with the order/how we fit everything in, but we did a lot in only 4 days and it was so much fun! Next time I visit, I will 100% be hiking the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast.


Where We Stayed:

Through VRBO we stayed in a condo in Poipu at the Prince Kuhio Condos. I chose to stay on this part of the island because I knew we would want to be in the middle between Waimea and Wailua because of the adventures we would be doing and did not want to drive the entire island every day (even though it doesn’t take that long). I did think about staying up in Princeville, but I would only recommend that if you’re planning to stay at a resort/explore the north shore, or make a longer drive every day to the south and west sides (you cannot drive from Princeville to Waimea without going clockwise around the entire island because of the Na Pali Coast). I’m very happy with where we stayed. It was a nice condo and we took advantage of being within walking distance to the Beach House Restaurant and the Shops at Kukui’ula. The VRBO option was also much cheaper than staying at a resort and paying the resort fees, but we were close enough to them to still feel like we were on vacation. I couldn’t find the exact one we stayed in, but here are a bunch of other options in the same condominium! Most are around $150/night or less!


Check out the Best Places to Eat in Kauai!


Planning to go to Another Hawaiian Island?

Check out my 3 Day Trip to Maui Here!

Read about my 4 Day Trip to the Big Island Here!

Check out my blog for other adventures and hikes around Oahu!

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