Poʻipu to Kokeʻe State Park
- 4 Days
The South Shore and Westside of Kauaʻi are known for having a more stable climate (translation: much less rain), and that's just where the appeal begins. Exquisite beaches, great food, stunning sunsets, a blast of local flavor and magnificent trails await.
Start your first day in Kalaheo among the locals at bustling Kalaheo Café & Coffee Co, before joining an early tour of the magnificent Allerton Garden. If you surf, paddle out to the wave out front, otherwise hit Poʻipu Beach Park. That beach fronts two sheltered lagoons ideal for kids and beginning snorkelers. The next one over, Brennecke's Beach, offers access to a wonderful outside reef accessible only to experienced ocean swimmers and freedivers. On the other flank is a consistent reef break ideal for surfers (mind your manners), and smaller waves for beginners. You'll find parking, bathrooms, picnic shelters and lifeguards here, and in winter you'll see breaching humpbacks offshore. Did we mention the sunsets are world class? Welcome to vacation base camp. When you've had enough, head to Old Koloa Town to enjoy tasty Italian food and the island's best cocktails at La Spezia.
On day two, stretch those morning legs on the Mahaʻulepu Heritage Trail, a most wild and scenic coastal hike. At lunch, head back to Koloa and hit Koloa Fish Market (bring cash) and walk it off with an extended browse of area shops. Drop by Poʻipu Beach Park for another sunset, then stroll the Kukuiʻula until you find a dining room that meets your needs. Eating House 1849 is an excellent choice.
It's your last day, so pack a picnic at Ishihara Market in Waimea, then drive onto Hwy 550, stopping at all the viewpoints as the road rises past Waimea Canyon and into Kokeʻe State Park. Then venture onto the Awaʻawapuhi Trail with views overlooking the stunning Na Pali Coast. Wash it down with a final sunset at the end of the road in Polihale State Park.
Wailuha to Kilauea
- 2 Days
From one of the state's most sacred rivers to one of the island's most spectacular beaches, with all kinds of beauty and flavor in between.
Start your day with a serene paddle up the Wailua River. Whether you choose to join a tour group or blaze your own wake, you will either hop in a kayak or rent an SUP board, glimpse heiau (ancient temples) and explore a hidden waterfall. Next fuel up with coffee and breakfast at Java Kai, a Kapaʻa classic. When you're ready to keep moving, rent a bike and cruise the 5-mile Ke Ala Hele Makalae path. It stretches from the south end of Kapaʻa Beach Park to Paliku Beach, 5 miles away. Grab a nap at Kealia Beach, then spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening exploring the shops in Old Town Kapaʻa. At night book a table in Waipouli at the wonderful JO2 for an exquisite dinner.
The next morning, climb Nounou Mountain then grab some Tiki Tacos in Waipouli and hit one of Kilauea's sublime beaches. We suggest Kauapea (Secrets) Beach. Take a quick dip, plant your body in the sand, repeat as necessary. Dine at Palate in Kilauea.
Kilauea to Na Pali Coast State Park
- 3 Days
Explore the North Shore from Kilauea Point to the mythic end of the road.
Wake up in Kilauea with coffee at Kilauea Bakery, a local staple, and a yoga class at Metamorphose. Then drive to Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and check out the stately lighthouse. Back in Kilauea, grab lunch at Kilauea Fish Market, have a browse at Hunter Gatherer then hit Kauapea (Secrets) Beach. Rinse off and hit the shops and galleries of Hanalei, enjoy an exquisite dinner at BarAcuda and then step over to Tahiti Nui for drinks and laughs until the music stops.
You'll need another hike to get your blood flowing again, so after coffee and a bite at Hanalei Bread Co, and a strategic snack stockpile at Harvest Market, hit the Okolehao Trail for a steep, quick one or drive to the end of the road and get a taste of the Kalalau Trail. Next hit Haʻena Beach Park or, if you surf, Makua (Tunnels) Beach for another well-spent, lazy afternoon. Wake up in time to drive to the end of the road for a Keʻe Beach sunset, then hit the sushi bar at Dolphin Restaurant for dinner in dear, sweet Hanalei.
- 8 Days
You have one week to explore, taste and experience the best of the Garden Island. Ready, set... go!
Check into Anahata Spa & Sanctuary in Kilauea and make your way into Hanalei. Park near Hanalei Beach Park, take a dip and stroll the sand, then hit luscious Lumahaʻi Beach for sunset. Grab a casual dinner and drinks at nearby Tahiti Nui. After a morning surf lesson on Hanalaei Bay, head to primordial Limahuli Garden, then hike the Kalalau Trail from Keʻe Beach to Hanakapiʻai Beach. Catch a Technicolor sunset on Keʻe Beach, then take the slow drive back to Hanalei for dinner at BarAcuda. Wake up in time for a yoga class at Metamorphose, then visit the lighthouse at Kilauea Point before spending the rest of the day at Kauapea (Secrets) Beach or Kahili (Rock Quarry) Beach. Dine at Palate in Kilauea.
On day four check into Fern Grotto Inn or Rosewood Kauaʻi in Wailua, then paddle the Wailua River. Book dinner at the wonderful JO2 in Waipouli. The following morning, breakfast at Java Kai in Kapaʻa, then ride the bike path to Kealia Beach. That evening hit Kintaro in Wailua for local Japanese or sample the burgers and craft beers at Street Burger. Wake up with a hike to the top of Nounou Mountain, then pack up and drive to Koloa, pick up lunch at the fish market and spend the day at Poʻipu Beach Park. Check into your short-term rental in Poʻipu. Wake up and go scuba diving with Seasport Divers if you're certified; otherwise, hit the Mahaʻulepu Heritage Trail and spend the morning at rugged and beautiful Mahaʻulepu Beach. Land in Hanapepe by early evening for a bit of gallery hopping, especially if it's Friday Art Night. Dine at Japanese Grandma.
Day eight is all about the trails. Stop at Ishihara Market in Waimea to pack a picnic at its deli, then drive Hwy 550, past all manner of viewpoints as the road rises to the rim of Waimea Canyon. Venture into Kokeʻe State Park and onto Awaʻawapuhi Trail with views overlooking the Kalalau Valley and the stunning Na Pali Coast, before driving on toward the western end of the road where you'll enjoy a final Kauaʻi sunset in Polihale State Park.