5 Days In Kauai itinerary

Day 3: Lihue to Hanalei Bay

The next day on our Kauai itinerary is leisurely spent road-tripping on the east coast before rounding the corner to the lush north shore of Kauai. The day mostly involves short stops in scenic lookouts, beach walks, and good food!

Pro Tip

Days 3 to 5 are best explored while you’re based in Kauai’s north shore. If not feasible, simply account for longer driving times when planning your day.

Wailua Falls

These twin falls cascade in perfect sync to a natural pool that only a few brave souls manage to reach somehow. There’s a small parking area near the lookout, and though this is a quick stop, I’ll warn you ahead of time – staring at Wailua Falls will hypnotize you!


Wailua River Lookout

The Wailua River Lookout is a quick stop offering lovely views of the Wailua River as it bends en route to the Pacific Ocean.

Wailua River Lookout - Kauai

Opaeka’a Falls Lookout

Less than 100m after the Wailua River Lookout on the opposite side of the road, this lookout offers views of a partially visible waterfall and the Wailua River. There are also the stone remains of a native Hawaiian structure adjacent to the parking area.

Opaeka’a Falls Lookout - Kauai - Hawaii


The stretch of road from Wailua to Kapa’a is the busiest in Kauai. It is here that the bulk of the island’s population resides and where package holidaymakers flock. Expect a traffic slowdown at best when nearing the town from either end and sometimes even major traffic jams (the Wailua bypass road helps with that).

Kapa’s can be a cool stop if you need to stretch your legs or grab something fresh to drink. Unless you’re super hungry (in that case, I recommend Pono Market), I advise waiting a little bit with lunch since we’ll soon make a special stop. Check out the main street, do some window shopping, and stroll along the paved promenade in Kapa’a Beach Park.

Pro Tip

Check if your visit coincides with one of Kapaa’s farmer’s markets.

Kealia Beach

Despite its proximity to Kapa’a, Kealia Beach manages to retain a sense of pristine beauty. To reach the beach, drive or walk along the coastal paved path from Kapa’a.  

Kealia Beach - Kauai - Hawaii

As you head north past Kealia Beach and Anahola, the scenery is very inviting as the north coast’s signature peaks get closer and closer. There are several hiking trails in this area, but we’ll leave those for day five. Look out for “the sleeping giant” and the “hole in the mountain”. You’ll need a vivid imagination and a clear day to spot these two anomalies.

Larsen’s Beach

Larsen’s Beach is one of the best beaches in Kauai, in my opinion. It’s an off-the-beaten-track beach exposed to the elements where you could very well be the only ones here. There’s lots of shade and plenty of secluded spots, and birds love to hover over the shallow waters to catch fish. It’s a great stop for a beach stroll, picnic lunch, or just to contemplate life’s questions. Unfortunately, due to a camera malfunction, this is the only photo I can share. 

Larsens Beach Kauai - Hawaii - Google Earth

Lunch at Kilauea Fish Market

It’s well worth fighting the lunch craving, and here’s why. One of the best places to eat in Kauai, the Kilauea Fish Market whips delicious local dishes you don’t want to miss. While you wait for your choice to be freshly prepared, hang out in the exterior shaded dining area or check out one of the neighboring art galleries. With my visiting folks, we devoured a round of fish tacos and ahi (tuna) burritos. The Fish Market is closed on Sundays.

Kilauea Lighthouse

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is a no-brainer stop after lunch in the fish market. The views are out of this world in this rugged mini peninsula teeming with life. This is a popular spot, so you must make advanced reservations. It’s a place where the sounds of smashing waves mix with the sounds of thousands of protected birds such as albatross, boobies, and frigate birds.

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The refuge’s man-made highlight is the old-school lighthouse, which dates back to 1913. The lighthouse was vital in protecting ships navigating the treacherous waters on this side of the island. From the lighthouse, spot tiny Mokuaeae Island. This tiny rock is a haven for seabirds. If you’re lucky, you might even see spinner dolphins and humpback whales, making this a perfect day. Finally, look to your sandy left – that’s “Secrets Beach”, where we’ll head shortly.

View of Kilauea Lighthouse and peninsula - Kauai
Kilauea Lighthouse - Kauai
Bird flying from Kilauea Lighthouse - Kauai

Secrets Beach

Better known as “Secrets Beach”, Kauapea Beach is hands down one of the best beaches in Kauai. It’s quite tricky to reach but well worth the effort, a long stretch of soft golden sand, the bluest of waters, and the Kilauea Lighthouse in the far distance. There’s even a hidden rocky cove on the beach’s western edge that pleasantly detaches you from the outside world.

You won’t find too many tourists here, mostly locals who know a good beach when they see one, surfers, and even dolphins. Be advised that swimming can be very dangerous, especially during winter. However, Secrets Beach is a beautiful place to do a bit of relaxation, and you can even call it a day since we’ll have another full beach day on the north coast on day five.   

Secrets Beach - Kauai - Hawaii
Secrets Beach - Kauai - Hawaii - rocky cove

To get here, Turn on Kalihiwai Road and take the first right onto the dirt road. Keep going straight until you reach a makeshift parking area. Leave nothing in the car (thieves have been known to stake out) and follow the steep path for about 10 minutes.

Hanalei Valley Lookout

Passing the resort community of Princeville, you’ll reach the Hanalei Valley Lookout before beginning the descent to what is arguably Kauai’s prettiest corner. The panoramic views from the lookout are stunning: a colorful tapestry of lush mountains, taro patches cultivated for centuries, and streams meandering to the Pacific Ocean. If you need a reminder of just how lush Kauai is, here it is!

Hanalei Valley Lookout - Kauai, Hawaii
Pro Tip

There are even finer views of the Hanalei Valley just a two-minute drive from the official lookout point in the direction of Hanalei Bay. Pull over on the wide shoulder (if conditions allow) and enjoy the views.

Hanalei Valley Scenic Lookout - Hawaii - Kauai


The village of Hanalei is the stuff dreams are made of. Perhaps this is why Hollywood keeps choosing this place repeatedly, most notably in the critically acclaimed drama The Descendants with George Clooney. Nestled between the signature peaks of the Na Pali coast and the majestic Hanalei Bay, the village itself is a tiny collection of shacks turned into million-dollar mansions, healthy dining options, and surf shops or surf related ‘whatevers’. It’s well worth a stop and a stroll before or after visiting the bay.

Hanalei Village - Kauai - Hawaii

If you fancy an unpretentious bite, head to The Hanalei Gourmet. For drinks (and live music), head to the Tahiti Nui Restaurant & Bar. Hanalei also hosts a Saturday farmers market, but we’ll return to this later.

Pro Tip

Keep in mind that on day 5 of this Kauai itinerary, you’ll have plenty of time to come back here, grab a healthy breakfast and check out the scenery in pre-noon daylight.

Sunset in Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is the largest and most impressive of Kauai’s majestic bays, a playground for all ages. Since Hanalei Bay is so massive, it is home to several official and unofficial beaches, starting with the busier Black Pot Beach in the east – where the famous pier is, Hanalei Beach Park and Waioli Beach Park – somewhere in the middle, and the western edges of the bay where you’ll likely not have to share the creamy sand with others.

Hanalei Bay - Kauai, Hawaii
Hanalei Bay Beach - Kauai - Hawaii - Pier
Hanalei Bay Beach - Kauai - Hawaii

Hanalei Bay is the type of place where you can spend the better part of a full day, and that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do on day five. On this day, however, find a nice spot and turn your head west to enjoy another spectacular sunset in Kauai!