How to Spend 3 Days in Kauai Itinerary (Travel Tips)

Kauai Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in Kauai, Hawaii 

Dreaming to see Kauai or planning a trip soon? You are in for such an amazing time, as the Garden Island has so much to offer! This 3 days Kauai, Hawaii itinerary will bring you to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, stunning landscapes, and more!

Out of the two islands we visited during our honeymoon (Maui and Kauai), I would say Kauai has a more laid-back, authentic local island feel, which I really loved.

It is very popular to island-hop when visiting Hawaii’s islands! Oahu and the Big Island are next on our list!

Views of the Napali Cost in Kauai. It's a must-see with 3 Days in Kauai!
The Napali Coast is a must-see with 3 Days in Kauai

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Is 3 Days Enough Time in Kauai

So are 3 full days enough time in Kauai? I am not sure any amount of time is enough in Kauai because this Hawaiian Island is so beautiful. However, with limited time, I believe 3 days in Kauai is the perfect amount of time to really get a feel for the island.

If you have a couple of extra days to spare, say 4-5 days in Kauai, this would allow you to see everything while adding more relaxation during your Hawaiian vacation.

How to Explore Kauai in 3 Days

The best way to explore Kauai is by renting a car. It would be almost impossible to see the island without a car unless you did everything through a tour.

Rental cars go quickly in Hawaii, so make sure to get one ASAP. You can find rental cars at the Lihue airport here.

When exploring Kauai, I would recommend cutting the island in half. Why? Because there are no roads that fully go around the island, it’s best to just split that baby in half.

Day 1 in Kauai: Waimea Canyon, Kalalau Lookout, Salt Pond Park, and Spouting Horn

To start off our 3-day itinerary in Kauai, let’s head to the west side of the Island, which includes beach time, beautiful lookout points, and Hawaii’s own Grand Canyon.

Waimea Canyon State Park

Driving up to Waimea Canyon provides beautiful views of the valleys. You will see plenty of spots to pull over and get a quick picture, and admire the scenery. Waimea Canyon is also known as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii or the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Address: Waimea Canyon Dr, Waimea, HI 96796

Kauai, Hawaii grand canyon Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Kalalau Lookout

Next, head to Kalalau Lookout! It is known to have incredible views looking down at the Napali Coast, however, it’s not guaranteed. This is because the area is known to have clouds and fog, so the best time to see the coast is around 8-9:30 AM.

I’d recommend driving up here first and then making your way back down to the canyon. Even without being able to look down on the coast, it was still a cool place to visit. Kalalau lookout is at an elevation of 5,148 ft, and it’s known to be one of the wettest spots on earth… who knew?!

Address: Kokee Rd, Kapaʻa, HI 96746

Kalalau Lookout (Wai’ale’ale) should be on your list with 3 days in Kauai
Kalalau Lookout  (Wai’ale’ale)

Salt Pond Park

After seeing some viewpoints, cool down at Salt Pond Park. It’s a nice beach with a lifeguard on duty. You will see most hotels urge you to swim where there are lifeguards due to their high currents and surf breaks.

This beach had bathrooms, picnic areas, and lots of chickens that you will see all over the island.

Address: Eleele, HI 96705

Salt Pond beach in Kauai

Kauai Spouting Horn

Another one of the best things to do in Kauai is visiting Spouting Horn. This cool natural feature is an easy place. You just drive up and admire and can admire it.

We even saw sea turtles swimming along the coast. When larger waves hit the rocks, water will spout out from the rocks. The water can spray up to 50 feet in the air!

You will also find some vendors in the area selling goods. Therefore, it’s a good place to get souvenirs.

Address: On Kauai’s South Shore by Poipu

Visit Spouting horn with 3 days in Kauai
Spouting Horn

Day 2 in Kauai: Napali Coast, Lydgate Beach, and Waterfalls

On day 2 of 3 days in Kauai, we are heading to the Northeast side of Kauai to view the Napali Coast, head to the beach, and see some waterfalls.

Visit the Napali Coast

With 3 days in your Kauai Itinerary, the Napali Coast is a must! There are 3 ways to explore the Napali Coast. The first is by taking a helicopter tour. A helicopter ride is also one of the most expensive ways to see the coast, but the birdseye view makes it very worth the money!

The next best way to see most of the coast is by boat. Boat tours usually include seeing other wildlife, such as turtles and dolphins, so this can be another really unique way to explore the Napali Coast. However, if you get motion sick easily, you may want to opt out of this one.

Last is seeing the coast by hiking the Kalalau Trail. While still beautiful, you won’t get the full effect of its beauty. Now, if you are afraid of helicopters (me) and don’t like boats (husband), then the coast is a great choice!

Na Pali Coast Hike

The most popular hike for the Napali Coast is to the 2-mile marker that goes from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach. While this was considered an “easy” hike, I found it a little difficult. There is a variation of incline and decline, on top of hot and humid.

You used to just be able to pull up and start this hike, but this is not the case anymore. Now, you need to get a reservation to do this hike. If you want to drive and park your car, the tickets sell out ridiculously fast, so check tickets right now to see if they even have your time. They also offer a shuttle, but this ticket is pretty expensive.

This took us about 3 hours. This path is heavily hiked, so you will not be alone.

I would recommend making sure you have a good breakfast, bringing snacks and lots of water or something with electrolytes to stay hydrated. After all, you are in the jungle! Find more information about hiking and camping here.

Napali Coast, Kauai is a must on your Itinerary with beautiful mountain and ocean views.
Napali Coast, Kauai

Lydgate Beach

If you decide to hike, you will have time to hit the beach after. Most of the north shore of Kauai beaches were not swimmable due to swells (September). This is more likely to happen if you visit during the fall and winter.

However, Lydgate Beach is one of the few you can visit, regardless of the high swells. What’s really cool about this beach is that it’s protected by a rock cove, which protects you from the wave break. It also has great snorkeling by the rocks, so enjoy a dip in the Pacific Ocean!

If the swells are not high, some other popular North Shore beaches include Tunnels Beach, Ke’e Beach, and Ha’ena Beach Park. They are even considered some of the best beaches in Hawaii!

Related: Ultimate Beach Packing List

Lydgate Beach in Kauai's east coast

Opaekaa Falls

After some much-needed relaxation at the beach, take a quick stop at Opaekaa Falls. You can see the waterfalls, but it’s pretty far away.

On the other side of the highway, you can get a glimpse of the Wailua River. We spent about 10 minutes here. If you are pressed for time, you can skip it.

Wailua Falls

If you still have daylight left, head to Wailua Falls. This waterfall is one of the best places to visit on Kauai, therefore, it is a must on your Kauai itinerary!

You can drive right up to this waterfall and get a really nice view. In the past, there were trails that brought you to the top of the falls but have been closed off with fences due to safety concerns.

When we went, we saw that many of the people were hopping the fence and hanging out on top of the falls despite the big “No Trespassing” sign. We didn’t do it, but you can make your own decision.

Wailua Falls was our favorite waterfall in Kauai and is definitely worth the stop.

Wailua Falls Waterfall in Kauai Hawaii
Wailua Falls

Day 3 in Kauai: Secret Falls Day Trip

On day 3 of your Kauai itinerary, take a day trip to see Secret Falls. These falls are by no means a secret, as it was packed with people, but we really enjoyed our trip here.

Although we usually prefer to do everything on our own, sometimes it’s nice to have a native give you some background.

We did our tour through ali’i kayaks and had such an amazing experience. Our tour guide, Phil, was so knowledgeable and gave us a lot of information about Kauai’s history, lands, plants, and wildlife. (Not even sponsored!)

You can only access these falls by some means of water transportation and a short hike to Secret Falls. It was really beautiful and took the full day, but worth it! Check back for my post on Tips Before you go to Secret Falls!

Kayaking to Secret Falls in Kauai. view of river with yellow kayak.

Other Activities to Do on Your Kauai Itinerary

With 3 days in Kauai, you can cover a ton before hopping to another island. With that said, there were still some places in Kauai we missed.

If we had more time, I would have loved to check out the Sleeping Giant hike and the Kauai Coffee visitor center, being I am a huge coffee person. I guess we will just have to save that for the next time we are in Kauai.

If you are heading to Maui, make sure you don’t miss driving the Road to Hana!

How to Get to Kauai

The best way to get to Kauai is by plane unless you are taking a cruise. Depending on where you fly out of, you will most likely need to make a connection from Honolulu.

The best way to Island hop is also by flying between islands.

To find the best flights, I always use Skyscanner, which allows us to pick a destination and the days (or months) I want to travel. It then tells you the cheapest flights for those travel times.

Visit Kauai Hawaii Grand Canyon with 1 day
Kauai Grand Canyon

Where to Stay in Kauai For 3 Days

During our time in Kauai, we stayed at The Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort Lihue (Used to be a Marriott Resort). The resort was huge and absolutely beautiful! It has a private cove beach, tons of pools, and a jungle vibe.

Since it was our Honeymoon, we were also gifted a bottle of Champagne with a really lovely welcome card. We also really loved the Lihue location.

We did have to pay each day to have our car parked (which we found at all resorts), but we couldn’t have been happier with our experience at the Resort!

Kauai Hawaii Marriot Hotel
One of the many open beautiful walkways through the hotel

Best Time to Visit Kauai

Kauai is a popular destination year-round, but the best times to visit Kauai will be during the shoulder seasons if you would like to avoid some of the crowds.

September through the beginning of November and April through May will have pleasant weather, lower costs, and fewer crowds.

Since Kauai is the Garden State, it rains throughout the year, however, November through March is considered the rainy season, where you may receive a little more rain.

Summer months are extremely popular to visit Kauai and the holiday season. This is when prices are at their highest.

3 Days in Kauai Itinerary Wrap-up

This was a really jam-packed schedule, but we made 3 full days in Kauai work for us. The next day, we flew out to Maui, Hawaii, for some more aloha fun!

Consider other awesome Kauai tours here!

Have any questions about this 3 days in Kauai Itinerary or feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you find this 3 Day Itinerary in Kauai Guide helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

3 Days in Kauai Itinerary Hawaii
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

16 thoughts on “How to Spend 3 Days in Kauai Itinerary (Travel Tips)”

  1. I was fortunate enough to live on Kauai for 30 plus years. It is truly Paradise on earth. I also lived & visited all the other Hawaiian Islands including Niihau (the forbidden island). Each island has its own vibe & are all worthy of going to. The people are welcoming and full of Aloha. The culture is amazing. The food is fresh, healthy & delicious. I’ve traveled to other parts of the world but Kauai will always be in my heart as heaven on earth. Please respect the aina (land), culture & local lifestyle & you will never forget your trip. My only regret is having to leave due to family issues. Enjoy Paradise!!!

  2. Hawaii is on my list since so long! I hope to be able to travel there one day! And for sure Kauai will be one of the islands I want to see. Thanks for the tips Sam!

  3. Thank you for this itinerary! To be honest, I know very little about Hawaii apart from the big island. I’m saving this for my future reference when it’s safe again to travel.

  4. I think your way of seeing the coast via a hike is the most fun (well, I mean a helicopter would be fab too if you can afford it and are not too scared!) All those waterfalls are stunning too! Wooowza!

  5. Definitely saving this article. Kauai is on my list (ok Hawaii in general was and I wasn’t quite sure how to prioritize, but you have me convinced on Kauai now). I’m a sucker for waterfalls and kayaking to the Secret Falls looks like such a beautiful adventure!

  6. I’ve never been to Kauai, but the other islands I visited in Hawaii were so gorgeous! Hopefully, you can get back to the island soon and cross off the other activities on your wishlist!

  7. Kauai seems like such a fun and adventurous island to explore. It’s definitely on my bucket list and I can’t wait to check out all your suggestions!

  8. What a great guide to Kuai – Hawaii is so high on my bucket list, I really hope I get to visit some day! Your photos are beautiful!

  9. I love and adore going to Hawai’i and definitely would love to go back to visit! (I went to Oahu last time, but reallyyy want to check out Kauai and Maui next!) Your photos are beautiful! <3

  10. Wow, just seeing your pictures alone makes me want to travel to Kauai. Two of the standouts for me was Kalalau Lookout, as well as the Secret Falls Day Trip. I will keep these in mind for when I travel to Hawaii.

  11. Love your story and pics Sam .
    One thing I have learned from traveling is that you can never can see anything what you planned or in your mind, enjoy it:-) ! And you have always an excuse to return


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