The Ultimate Guide for 1 Day in Kauai Itinerary
I should start out by saying 1 day in Kauai, Hawaii is not enough, but if you are sampling the islands from a cruise or layover, this guide is for you! In this Kauai guide, I am covering the best things to do with 1 or 2 days visiting the garden island!
Have more days in Kauai? Check out this Kauai 3 Day Guide.
Cruising to Kauai? The port comes in right by the Marriott in Lihue and this is a great location to be in!
If you flew in from a layover, you will be in Lihue which is the South East region and very close to the Marriot. Kauai is best traveled by splitting the island from the West and East since you can’t fully drive around the island.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Ultimate Guide for 1 Day in Kauai Itinerary
- South Coast Recommendations for 1 Day in Kauai
- North Coast Recommendations for 1 Day in Kauai
- 1 Day in Kauai Itinerary Review
South Coast Recommendations for 1 Day in Kauai
Here are some of the best things you can see on Kauai in 1 day on the South Coast. From beautiful lookouts to the Hawaiian Grand Canyon, you will be in for a treat!
Kalalau Lookout (Wai’ale’ale)
Kauai is full of drop-dead gorgeous views, so it’s easy to see why visiting Hawaii is so popular, especially on the Garden Island!
If it’s within the budget, I would rent a car for the day. At the top of my list, I would suggest driving up to Kalalau Lookout (Wai’ale’ale). You will see many lookout spots where you can pull over to catch the view, but don’t spend your time doing this on the way up.
Wait until you are coming back down as you will need to get to Kalalau Lookout early. By checking the weather and going early you can miss the clouds and fog coming in.
Unfortunately for me, the clouds obstructed my view and I was not able to see the stunning views of the Napali Coast. Kalalau Lookout has an elevation of 5,148 FT and it’s known to be one of the wettest spots on earth… who knew!
Next, make your way to Waimea Canyon the“Grand Canyon” of Hawaii. Waimea Canyon has panoramic views of stunning valleys. This really is a must-see in my opinion! This Canyon is about ten miles long and up to 3,600 feet deep and is just breathtaking. Once again, you want to be here early before the clouds roll in.
After, take a drive to Spouting Horn. A very popular spot to see the ocean waves crash on the coastline and shoot out of a lava tube. The spout can reach up to 50 feet!
From here I would recommend going to Po’ipu Beach Park, which has amazing snorkeling. It was a little crowded when we went but the water was beautiful and there was plenty of fish around! This beach has lifeguards and restrooms.
For dinner make your way back to the port and seek out Duke’s Kauai. They have amazing nachos and fish tacos and do not, I repeat, do not skip dessert. The Hula Pie was amazing! YUMMM
North Coast Recommendations for 1 Day in Kauai
Kauai is full of beautiful sightseeing areas, but nothing like the Napali coast in my opinion. The Napali Coast in Kauai is a full-day thing, but it’s totally worth it. These deep, lush, and jagged coastlines stretch 15 miles long and have easy to expert level hiking trails. There are a couple of ways you can explore these and although I’ve only done one, I am sure they are all spectacular.
Kauai Napali Coast By Helicopter
Maybe one of the most advertised attractions is to take a doors-off helicopter tour over the coast. From what I’ve heard and seen, the views are out of this world and you can see the coast from all viewpoints. Some tours even take you to see the waterfall from the movie Jurassic Park. I happen to be afraid of flying so I ultimately did not choose this option, however, it’s considered one of the best. Find epic Kauai Helicopter tours here!
Kauai Napali By Boat
Another way to experience the coast is by boat. There are quite a few companies that offer these boat trips from luxury tours to less expensive tours to fit anyone’s budget, and again the views are insane!
Many tours will also bring you through caves and you have a pretty good chance of seeing dolphins! Here is a highly rated Napali Coast boat tour here!
Kauai Napali By Land
Last, but not least, is by land. This is the option we chose (since I don’t like to fly, and Alex doesn’t like boats) and we really enjoyed it. We woke up nice and early to get breakfast and got to the start of the 11-mile hike around 10 am. There is a super tiny parking lot so you might just have to line up and wait for a spot.
Fortunately, we only waited for about 5-10 minutes. Before you get here, I would definitely recommend bringing a large bottle of water per person, or something with electrolytes like Gatorade and a small lunch. This packing list might be different if you are hiking past the 2-mile marker.
Find more awesome Napali Coast Tours here!
Packing for the Napali Cost Hike
Since I started mentioning packing above, I figured I would give you the rest of my go-packing list. Besides the above, I would bring the following:
Backpack to hold snacks and water. To help reduce plastic, we use our Lifestraw water bottle which has great filter capabilities!
1. Wear lightweight clothes, you will definitely be sweating….A LOT!
2. Sunscreen and even bug spray. You are in the jungle. For sunscreen, our new go-to brands are Blue Lizard Australian Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30 and Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer.
3. Hiking boots. We wore regular running shoes and our ankles were killing us. There is a lot of climbing up and down rocks, so ankle support will come in clutch.
4. Bathing Suit. Once you get to the stream and beach, you will want to cool down.
Kauai North Coast Beaches
With our hike, we were able to also stop by another beach around 1 pm. We wanted to go to some of the North-end beaches I read so much about, such as Tunnel beach, but the water was too rough for us to go snorkeling.
A lifeguard recommended that we go to Lydgate State Park Beach Park. What’s really cool about this beach is that it is protected by a rock cove which protects you from the wave break. It also has good snorkeling by the rocks!
If you choose this route and you are feeling extra adventurous you can even stop by Wailua Falls one of the more accessible waterfalls on Kauai. Experience 2 waterfalls that you can drive right up to this waterfall. From the road, you will get a jaw-dropping view!
1 Day in Kauai Itinerary Review
This sums up how to make the best of 1 day in Kauai! Whether you visit these coasts by helicopter, sea, or land you will not be disappointed!
Have any questions about this 1 day in this Kauai itinerary? Or think I should add something? Let me know in the comments below!