Trip to Kauai – Planning Guide

Amazing landscape of Kauai by Travel Anubhav

Islands are a live example of customized travel package created by mother nature, where you can find the amazing beaches, waterfalls, scenic mountains all concentrated in a small area which can be covered in just a few hours by car. In our recent travels, we explored few of the amazing islands around the world from Santorini island of Greece, Azores islands of Portugal to very recently Hawaii in the USA.

Hawaii comprises of a total of eight islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii. It is also the most isolated population center on Earth. This post is not about choosing the right island for your first trip to Hawaii as we have been to just one island. If you have decided to visit Kauai, then this guide will help you with everything related to planning your first trip to Kauai Island.

Sunrise in Hawaii at Kauai by Travel Anubhav

How many Days

This is always the most tricky question and the most important one at the same time. We will share our views and calculations targetting similar travelers who have a permanent job and share the importance of leaves from work. You will need minimum 4 complete days to explore the whole island and this post will help you to plan these 4 days of your holiday in Kauai Island.

Transport

Flight duration and price will depend on your starting destination, a direct flight of six hours from Seattle took us to Kauai. We had no preference for the flight and simply chose the cheapest option available.

Car rental is the best way to explore the island but like most of the places in the USA, there are planned tour buses also available which is never our cup of tea. We explored Turo car rental for the first time, which is like an Airbnb for cars where an individual put his car on rental. Turo turned out to be 50% cheaper than any other rental options available at that time.

Food

No offense, but as one American friend told me, “the best American food is good Mexican food”. Kauai is no different, there are plenty of Mexican restaurants, pancake cafes, steakhouses which you can choose according to your preference. But one thing which you can’t miss while in Kauai is Shave Ice.

Shave Ice popular in Kauai by Travel Anubhav

Accommodation

Airbnb is always our first choice for accommodation and Kauai was no exception. A nice comfortable house with a great host who helped us a lot in planning and recommended multiple great places. In general, we found the Airbnb prices are much higher than any city in Europe and sometimes more expensive than a motel. So, please compare the prices before you make a decision if the budget is the primary constraint.

Tip: We stayed in Kappa which turned out to be a great location as it is equal distant from all points of interest in the island and it is very close to the airport as well.

Itinerary

Here comes the best part, as we mentioned that this post will help you to plan your 4-5 days trip to Kauai Island. So, sit back relax and go on a virtual trip to Kauai with TravelAnubhav.

It took us a while to make a list of all the amazing places in Kauai but once we had the list ready, itinerary turned out to be really simple. We divided the island into 4 parts and dedicated one day to each.

Day 1: The Red Guys

Fuel up your car and go on one of the most amazing drives which Kauai island has to offer. Waimea Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Hawai offering great views and hiking options. The same Waimea Canyon drive leads to another amazing destination, Kokee State Park. The ride is so scenic that it was really hard to avoid the temptation of taking photo breaks in every half mile. The complete details about our Day 1 are coming soon in a separate post.

Tip: The reason we select the red guys on Day 1 is that the weather at Waimea Canyon is very unpredictable which leads to zero visibility. In case you will get unlucky on Day1, you may be able to manage sometime later in your trip. 

Kauai trip planning with things to do by Travel Anubhav

Day 2: The Blue Guys

This is gonna be a busy day with many spots to cover, the major highlights are:

  • Wailua river lookout sunrise
  • Opaeka falls
  • Lydgate state park
  • Hanalei town
  • Queen’s bath
  • Kilauea Lighthouse
  • Sleeping Giant trail

We managed to wake up early on Day 2 for a sunrise shot and our efforts were rewarded by mother nature with some amazing colors and view over the Wailua River. A detailed post covering all the spots in details with some photography and hiking tips is coming soon on travelanubhav.

Kauai Hanalei Bay trip planning guide by TravelAnubhav

Day 3: The Green Guys

As we mentioned that four days is the minimum amount of time required to cover all the amazing places in Kauai, this itinerary is a jam-packed one. You can select a subset of places according to your preference or split any day to multiple days for a more relaxed version.

Day 3 is for the southern part of the island with major highlights as :

  • Wailua Falls
  • Mahaulepu heritage trail
  • Exploration of southern towns of the island: Lihue and Hanapepe
  • Tree tunnel
  • Sunset at Salt Pond beach

We covered a number of places on Day 3 but the major highlight was the Mahaulepu trail which is a 3-4 hr hike, depending on your speed and photo breaks, along with the coast. We also managed to click a picture at Tree tunnel road which is another great story to share and then our day ended at Salt Pond beach. There is a lot more to share from our Day 3 in Kauai about our failed attempt of hiking down to Wailua fall base, the adventure of clicking a picture at Tree tunnel, finding the hanging bridge in Hanapepe and few other amazing photo spots in Kauai for your next Instagram picture. So, stay tuned and subscribe to our blog or follow us @instagram (@travelanubhav).

Salt pond beach, wailua falls and other list of things to do in Kauai by Travel Anubhav

Day 4: The Yellow Guys

The original plan was Na Pali Coast but the whole area was closed due to recent floods when we visited the island. We used our Day 4 for a hike named Sleeping Giant Trail and re-visited the Waimea Canyon as we were one of those unlucky people who missed few spots due to bad weather.

Things you need to pre-plan

A lot of planning is required to have a perfect trip and TravelAnubhav is trying to help fellow travelers in their planning phase. There are few things in Kauai which you have to pre-book and will not be possible or really hard to get at the last minute.

Traditional Hawaiian Luau: There are multiple places where you can enjoy the luau performance along with dinner but you need to make a reservation in advance. We tried the last minute booking at all possible places and we couldn’t get one even for three days later.

Helicopter tour: There is a large section of the island which can’t be explored without a helicopter tour. There are multiple helicopter tour companies with almost same price ranges and features to offer, however, there is one company named Jack Harter which offers a special helicopter tour with doors removed. This will be a great option for serious photography enthusiasts and people with a brave heart.

Helicopter tours in Waime Canyon in Kauai, Hawai by Travel Anubhav

It was an amazing experience to drive on the scenic roads of Kauai and hiking on slippery trails which leads to one of the most awesome views we have witnessed so far. While Kauai is an amazing destination, we feel thrilled to realize that it is just one-eighth of what Hawaii offers. I hope one day we will cover all eight islands of Hawaii, till that Happy Traveling and subscribe to our blog for detailed posts for each day of the itinerary.

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