Dreaming of a tropical island, but have only 3-4 days to enjoy it? There is no better place to spend a long weekend than the island of Kauai.
Last updated: August 28, 2023
How to Spend a Long Weekend on Kauai
Many travelers believe that a tropical island such as Kauai needs more than a weekend to explore it and enjoy its many activities and sites. And thus, when time comes to plan a vacation, even Americans often overlook it, settling for less extravagant options.
The truth is you don’t need a month-long vacation to enjoy the island life. It’s absolutely possible to explore most of Kauai in 3 to 4 days. Basking in the sun, swimming in the ocean, hiking to picturesque vistas, and indulging in juicy tropical fruits is closer than you think. So, join me on an epic adventure of exploring Kauai over a long weekend.
11 THINGS TO DO ON KAUAI OVER A LONG WEEKEND
1. Wailua River State Park
Wailua River State Park is a place that can’t be missed once on Kauai. Even if you get a little bit lost and don’t have clear directions, drive in the east direction from Kapaa. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach the destination.
A small parking lot just off the road instantly attracts with lush greenery and palm grove nearby. To the left, an inconspicuous lookout point uncovers secrets behind popularity of Wailua River State Park. From this tiny observation deck, you can see it all: green trees, jungle-like vegetation, and the lush valley intersected by the river.
But it’s not the typical green color of the plants. It’s, shall I say, the tropical green – slightly lighter and softer. The Wailua River is the only interruption to this green idyll. However, it doesn’t spoil the overall picture. On the contrary, the river adds more balance and harmony to the park.
The coconut grove with chickens running wild presents another reason to put Wailua River State Park on the list of the top things to do on Kauai over the long weekend. This part of the park is especially popular among visitors with kids that can’t get enough of chasing these now wild birds.
2. Opaekaa Falls
About 5-minute drive from the Wailua River State Park lookout point, and another attraction of Kauai allures its weekend visitors. Opaekaa Falls is located in Wailua River State Park. This 151-foot natural phenomenon is one of a few waterfalls you can see from the road.
Two massive streams, flowing over basalt from volcanic eruptions that happened millions of year ago, create a visual balance to the green tropical realm. Most visitors don’t go beyond enjoying Opaekaa Falls from the distance. Nevertheless, it’s absolutely possible to hike down to the bottom of the waterfall.
TIP: A steep tail, though, can be challenging and requires a lot of endurance.
3. Kamokila Hawaiian Village
With the intention of preserving unique history of the island, Kamokila Hawaiian Village takes you back in time, to one of the authentic Hawaiian settlements. The site was rebuilt from scratch on the remains of a once existing village.
The place features different kinds of huts that once served as places of gathering and eating. To further enhance the experience, founders of Kamokila Village make sure to surround the village with native plants and trees.
4. Kilauea Lighthouse
Kilauea Lighthouse sits on the far end of Kilauea Point in the western corner of Kauai. Thanks to its stunning surroundings consisting of the lush greenery and raging ocean waves, the lighthouse is one of the best places to soak in the natural beauty of Kauai with a touch of human intervention.
The impeccable structure towers 180 feet above the ocean and is open to the visitors Tuesday through Friday. Although the lighthouse doesn’t serve its purpose any longer, it’s an important part of the island. The iconic structure still reminds of the time when its beam reached up to 22 miles away from the shore.
5. Queen’s Bath
A cherished possession of the north shore of the island, the Queen’s Bath is a natural tide pool surrounded by igneous rocks. But despite its reputation as one of the most alluring and at the same time secret spots to see on Kauai, the Queen’s Bath can be a dangerous place.
The untamed ocean is the reason behind it. Big surf that usually happens from October through May can present life-threatening situations for oblivious visitors. Fatal accidents have been registered after people were swept off the rocks.
6. Waimea Canyon State Park
The moment you pull over to look at a large canyon with predominantly red, brown, and green hues, your mind immediately goes back to one of the natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. Waimea Canyon State Park indeed possesses some characteristic features that earned it the nickname of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Approximately 10 miles long and over 3,000 feet deep, the park attracts with astounding views, challenging hiking trails, and cascading waterfalls.
7. Kalalau Lookout
A visit to Kauai can’t be complete without enjoying the views from the Kalalau Lookout. The famous observation deck is located 4,000 feet above sea level, the highest elevation that one can reach by road on the island. Thanks to its easy accessibility and such elevated position, the lookout opens the best views over the Kalalau Valley, one of the most recognized places in all of Hawaii.
The pristine beauty of the valley didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood that used it as the backdrop for such blockbusters as King Kong, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, and Six Days Seven Nights starring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche.
8. Shipwreck Beach
Shipwreck Beach is a small, moderately busy beach in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Despite its almost central location, the beach doesn’t attract many visitors. Large waves, permanent attendants of this part of Kauai, forcefully crush against the shore, making swimming exceptionally difficult.
Watching sunsets on Shipwreck Beach, on the other hand, is one of the easiest things to do on Kauai especially if you booked your long weekend stay at the hotel behind the beach.
9. Spouting Horn
An old Hawaiian legend says that a giant lizard named Kaikapu was guarding the southern coast of Kauai many years ago. Nobody dared to enter the area except for one young boy named Liko. The lizard didn’t like the uninvited guest and tried to attack him. In order to escape, Liko swan under the lava shelf and scrambled through a small hole to the surface. Kaikapu was not that lucky and got stuck in the lava tube. To this day, the angry lizard sits there, roaring and spraying her breath from the blowhole.
Science, however, has different explanation of the appearance of Spouting Horn. The Poipu surf goes into a natural lava tube and releases a huge spout of water that can reach up to 50 feet in the air.
10. Hanalei Bay Beach
Spending time on a beautiful beach such as Hanalei Bay Beach is one of the must-do activities on Kauai over a long weekend. This 125 feet wide area with over two miles of sand fascinates with green mountains in the background and two large coral reefs on both sides of the bay.
The beach offers plenty of opportunities for surfing, boogie boarding, and swimming. Moreover, even on a weekend Hanalei Bay Beach never gets overcrowded as the majority of the visitors gravitate towards more popular Ke’e Beach.
11. Sleeping Giant Trail
The Sleeping Giant Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails on the island. However, if your long weekend is not long enough to conquer this path, connecting all dots in order to see a sleeping man can be another interesting things to do on Kauai. Luckily the massive mountain is visible almost from everywhere in the Kapaa area.