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  • Writer's pictureCarly

Kauai - 9 Day Itinerary

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Explore the Beautiful Island of Kauai in 9 Days

Aloha, Kauai

Kauai is a beautiful island, with lush, green panoramas and pristine, turquoise waters. The perfect harmony between a family retreat and an adventurous escape. During this trip we wanted to experience it all, so we divided our stay between Koloa near Poipu on the South Shore and Princeville on the North Shore.

Day 1 - Kiahuna Beach & Poipu Beach Athletic Club

We flew direct from LAX to Lihue overnight, so we touched down in the morning. Getting off the airplane in Hawaii is the best! The sound of the warm breeze against the palm trees gives you that aloha-feeling.

After getting our bags, we hopped in our rental car and went on the scenic drive, through the famous Tree Tunnel heading towards our condo. We stayed at the Kiahuna Plantation Resort, which is along the shores of Kiahuna Beach. While the beach proved to be a popular destination and a bit crowded at times, it was gorgeous and a great place for swimming, snorkeling and surfing.

After checking out the beach, we decided to explore what else the resort had to offer, and headed to the pool. One of the resort’s best features, aside from its great location, was the access to the Poipu Beach Athletic Club, just across the street from our condo. This facility had a great pool with waterslide, hot tub, athletic courts and equipment, a really nice shower house, and the Cabana Bar & Grill which had good food and live music most nights.

Day 2 - Poipu Beach

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Today we decided to visit Poipu Beach and it did not disappoint! There were several sunbathing sea turtles hanging out on the beach, and the snorkeling was truly awesome! The water is so clear and there are fish everywhere! I suggest wearing water shoes here to protect your feet from the rocks and coral.

The beach has two coves that meet at a sandbar which leads out to an island. Depending on the tide, you can walk to the island where you can see seals and sea turtles relaxing on the beach and rocks.

There are a few restaurants nearby, and we decided on the iconic Puka Dog

for lunch. We sat under an awning at picnic tables by the beach, and waited for a rain shower to pass before returning to the beach for the afternoon.

Later on, we took a break to enjoy fresh coconuts from a friendly couple selling them on the side of the road—a delightful and refreshing treat!

Day 3 - Napali Coast

In advance, I had booked a Napali Coast Raft Tour through Kauai Sea Tours from 7am-1pm. While I knew this trek was going to be rugged, I was surprised at how rough and long it was! The journey was completely worth the reward, but I would suggest not bringing children under 12 years old despite their site recommending 7+ years.

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This experience was extraordinary! This tiny vessel had us weaving through mesmerizing sea caves and soaking in the sheer enormity of the Napali Coast's breathtaking landscapes. The towering cliffs defy comprehension, with waterfalls cascading down the sides into the sea below. On our journey, we found a playful pod of Spinner Dolphins, a mama Monk Seal resting on the sandy shores with her baby, and sea turtles navigating the caves.

Once we returned to solid ground (and kissed it!), we got some much needed shave ice. After freshening up, we headed to the Hyatt Regency to explore the property, watched people cliff jump at Shipwrecks Beach, and enjoy a well-deserved dinner.

Day 4 - The Beach House

We were in need of some relaxation, so we spent the day at the beach by our resort. I had made dinner reservations at The Beach House restaurant a few months in advance, which is known for its amazing sunset views! Palmer and I found a local florist who made us flower leis to wear to dinner, which we picked up on the way to the restaurant. Arriving at The Beach House, we enjoyed our final evening on the South shore, with yummy food and the perfect view of the setting sun.

Day 5 - Ho'opi' Falls & Princeville

All packed up, we headed on North toward Princeville. We stopped in Kapa’a for lunch at Jimmy’s Grill and then explored the beach for a bit. Then, we decided to drive to the trailhead leading to Ho’opi’I Falls. It was about a 2 mile hike through lush forest, and you can hear the falls getting closer along the way. We got to the top and of the falls and took in the view. It's about a 20-foot jump into a crystal-clear pool below. Ready for a refreshing dip after our hike, we all took the plunge...several times!

After hiking back to the car, we headed to our next location, the Hanalei Bay Resort in Princeville. The location of this resort is amazing, and it's more affordable than most options in Princeville. We booked our condo through Vrbo, but I believe you can book through their site as well.

Day 6 - Hanalei Bay

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The North shore is known as the rainy side of the island, and we did experience more rain in Princeville than in Poipu. Undeterred by the rain, we headed to the beach for a day of exploration at beautiful Hanalei Bay. The beach is so expansive, the water is calm, and it's all framed by colossal cliffs. The best word to describe this natural gem is serene. We played in the sand, wandered along the iconic pier and jumped in the water to get a closer view of the sea turtles.

In the late afternoon, we headed into town and spent the evening weaving through little shops, and eventually settled down for dinner.

Day 7 - Queen's Bath & 4th of July

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In the morning we hiked to Queen’s Bath , a true natural gem! This is a group of crystal-clear lava rock pools formed by the relentless crash of ocean waves. The hike down was muddy and slippery, but the breathtaking reward at the end made it all worth it. We brought water shoes and snorkel gear, and then dove into this aquatic wonderland. There were tons of fish to see and giant rocks in the pools that you could relax on to take in the beauty of it all.

On the way back, we made a stop at the Kilauea Lighthouse which sits on a peninsula, basking unparalleled views of the island's scenic panorama.

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When the sun started setting, we put on our red, white & blue, and picked up some sparklers for a fun evening of fireworks! We strolled down to the bay from our condo as darkness took over the beach. It was a spectacular 4th of July, with the night illuminated by fireworks creating an unforgettable celebration.

Day 8 - Pool Day & Luau

After a fun-filled week, we decided to spend the day on the property and relax. It rained on and off throughout the day, which was quite refreshing. We hung out at the pool and hot tub, played some tennis, and the kids chased the roosters around the property.

As the sun began to descend on our Hawaiian adventure, we naturally marked the occasion with a luau—a vibrant celebration of their beautiful culture. We were so impressed by the dancers and the flamethrowers, who created the perfect ending to our unforgettable family journey.

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Day 9- Farewell to Kauai

With an evening flight awaiting us, we headed South and returned to our original destination in Koloa. We hung out at the Poipu Beach Athletic Club for the day, savoring our last moments on this wonderful island. Taking advantage of their excellent shower facilities, we freshened up before heading to the airport and bidding a fond aloha to the enchanting island of Kauai.

Hidden Gem: While driving South towards the airport, we stumbled on the Kauai Humane Society and couldn't resist a visit. We discovered the Field Trips for Shelter Dogs program, which allows you to temporarily adopt a furry companion for a day or a week while on the island. A great find that we're definitely keeping in mind for our next visit!



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