Kauai Itinerary: 7 Days on Hawaii’s Garden Isle

Use this Kauai itinerary to plan your dream vacation on Hawaii’s Garden Isle.

From coastal cliffs to canyon depths, magical mountain waterfalls to lush green valleys, Kauai’s larger-than-life beauty awaits you around every corner.

Kauai Itinerary Day 1: Acclimate to Aloha

After settling in to your comfortable villa, immerse yourself in the relaxing island culture while enjoying your resort’s tropical surroundings. Warm breezes sway palm trees over your head as you sip a mai tai poolside or enjoy relaxing spa services. Yep, this is about as perfect as it gets.

Kauai ItineraryDay 2: Fly Over Lush Landscapes

Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Isle” for good reason. It’s the least developed of the Hawaiian Islands, with much of the island inaccessible by car or foot. That’s why a helicopter tour is a breathtaking must.

Be awed by the majestic cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, then soar over the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” — the exquisitely carved Waimea Canyon. Flying inland, gaze upon the lush landscape made famous in films like “Jurassic Park,” complete with cascading waterfalls and vivid rainbows. This is one of those experiences you’ll never forget.

Grab a picnic lunch in Lihue and head over to nearby Makua Beach for afternoon swimming amid the same mountain scenery seen in the film “South Pacific.” Ready to barbecue Hawaiian style? Pick up fresh fish and other princely provisions at the market on your way back to the resort, then grill out and enjoy a laid-back dinner while watching the sun set.

Kauai ItineraryDay 3: Sail Away or Play

Drink up the warm sun and ocean breezes with a relaxing day out on the water. Inclusive 5- to 7-hour boating excursions take you down the dramatic Na Pali Coast, dotted with sheer, green cliff faces and hidden sea caves, enchanting waterfalls and timeless lava tubes. Sail across the channel to an unspoiled island for spectacular swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Rather be out on the greens? Opt for a round amid gorgeous surroundings at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, which features an 18-hole championship course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Kauai ItineraryDay 4: Tubing and Waterfalls

For a popular family activity, go tubing on Kauai’s historic plantation canals. Learn about the island’s sugar plantation era before hopping into a tube for your leisurely adventure. Float down open channels, fun flumes and magical tunnels that were hand-built circa 1870 as an elaborate irrigation system for the former Lihue Plantation. Just be sure to make reservations in advance.

In the afternoon, drive to a convenient roadside stop for Wailua Falls. This is the distinctive two-stream waterfall featured in the opening credits of the long-running TV show, “Fantasy Island.”

Kauai ItineraryDay 5: Head West

Bike it or hike it: Either way, you’ll find more dramatic beauty on Kauai’s West Side. Pedal down Waimea Canyon starting at sunrise (and 3,600 feet above sea level). From the elevated Kokee State Park, you can traverse miles of excellent hiking trails through rainforest to view lookouts of the well-carved canyon or verdant North Shore valleys below.

On your way back to the resort, stop at “Kauai’s biggest little town,” Hanapepe, where plantation-style historic buildings house charming shops, eateries and art galleries. Don’t forget to walk across the famous swinging bridge for a scenic photo op above the Hanapepe River.

Kauai ItineraryDay 6: Paddle Through Paradise

You’ll discover the only navigable rivers in all of Hawaii on Kauai. The 20-mile-long Wailua River winds around magical sites like the sacred Fern Grotto, Opaekaa Falls and the aptly named Sleeping Giant mountain ridge. The scenic river can be explored by kayak, outrigger canoe or boat tours. Before heading back to the resort, you can browse elegant island shops in nearby Kapaa Town.

What better way to spend your last night on Kauai than at a traditional Hawaiian luau? Feast like royalty beneath a balmy, star-filled sky. Be mesmerized by pulsating drums beckoning ancient spirits, while hula and fire dancers tell stories to soulful Hawaiian and Tahitian chants.

Kauai ItineraryDay 7: Go North Before You Go Home

Soak up more energizing sun in the morning. Try sunrise yoga overlooking the Pacific, or a nature walk reflecting on your week in paradise.

Time permitting, before you make your way to Lihue Airport, swing by Kilauea Point, the northernmost cusp in all Hawaii. Take an illuminating look at Kauai’s seafaring history at the well preserved Kilauea Lighthouse, which is surrounded by 200 acres of national wildlife refuge. You might spot rare sea birds and even Hawaiian monk seals.