- Kauai Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days Kauai, Hawaii
- How to Explore Kauai
- Day 1: Waimea Canyon, Kalalau Lookout, Salt Pond Park, and Spouting Horn
- Day 2 in Kauai: Napali Coast, Lydgate Beach, and Waterfalls
- Day 3 in Kauai: Secret Falls Day Trip
- Other Activities to do in Kauai
- How to Get to Kauai
- Where to Stay in Kauai
- Best Time to Visit Kauai
- 3 Days in Kauai Overview
Kauai Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days 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 day Kauai, Hawaii itinerary will bring you to beautiful beaches, waterfalls, stunning landscapes, and more!
So are 3 full days enough time in Kauai? I believe 3 days in Kauai is the perfect amount of time to really get a feel for the island, however, 4-5 days in Kauai would allow you to see everything with a lot of time to relax during your vacation.
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!
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How to Explore Kauai
The best way to see Kauai is by renting a car. It would be almost impossible to see the island without one unless you did everything through a tour.
When exploring the Kauai, I would recommend cutting the island in half. Why? Because there are no roads that fully go around the island so it’s best to just split that baby in half.
Day 1: 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.
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 actually considered the “Grand Canyon” of Hawaii!
Address: Waimea Canyon Dr, Waimea, HI 96796
Kalalau Lookout is known to have incredible views looking down at the Napali Coast, however, it’s not guaranteed. This 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
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
Kauai Spouting Horn
Spouting Horn is an easy place to just drive up and admire. We even saw a turtle 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!
Address: On Kauai’s South Shore by Poipu
Day 2 in Kauai: Napali Coast, Lydgate Beach, and Waterfalls
Today we are heading to the Northeast side of Kauai to view the Napali Coast, head to the beach, and see waterfalls.
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 helicopter. A helicopter ride is the best way to see the full coast.
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.
Last, is seeing the coast by hiking the 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!
Napali Coast Hike
The most popular hike for the Napali Coast is to the 2-mile marker that reaches the beach. While this was considered an “easy” hike, I found it a little difficult. There was a lot of climbing up and down rocky paths, but the views were stunning.
This took us about 3 hours. This path is heavily hiked so you will not be alone but start early.
I would recommend making sure you have a good breakfast and bring snacks and lots of water or something with electrolytes to stay hydrated. After all, you are in the jungle!
If you decided to hike, you will have time to hit the beach after. Most of the northern beaches were no swimming due to swells so we headed to Lydgate Beach. 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!
After some much-needed relaxation at the beach, take a drive to 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.
If you still have daylight left, head to Wailua Falls. This is a waterfall is a must in 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.
Day 3 in Kauai: Secret Falls Day Trip
On day 3 in 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!
Other Activities to do in Kauai
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 next time in seeing Kauai part 2=)
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 month) I want to travel. It then tells you the cheapest flights for those travel times.
Where to Stay in Kauai
During our time in Kauai, we stayed at Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue. The resort was huge and absolutely beautiful! It might have been the nicest Resort we have ever been to! We had 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 nice welcome card. 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! To look for other hotels in Kauai, check Booking.com here!
The address of the hotel we stayed at is: 3610 Rice Street, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
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. September- the beginning of November and April- May will have pleasant weather, lower costs, and fewer crowds.
3 Days in Kauai Overview
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 for some more aloha fun! To see more Hawaii guides, click here!
Originally published December 2017