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The Ultimate Budget Friendly 5-day Kauai Itinerary

August 30, 2019

So, you only have a few days in the most beautiful place in the world?

You want to make sure you “do Kauai right” and see all the beauty it has to offer in the little time (and money) you have there?

Well, if you think you can see everything Kauai has to offer in just a few days, you are mistaken. I will tell you up-front, that is just not possible. It’s okay, don’t panic! Before you choose to click away, I promise you will see countless jaw-dropping places, I just want you to adjust your expectations to reality so that your upcoming trip to Kauai is stress-free. The worst thing you’d want to do is spend your time stressing about seeing everything on your checklist and not actually enjoying spending time in the moment.

I mean, just think about it… Kauai is 552 square miles of endless adventure, scenic hikes, hidden trails, delicious food and the most breathtaking beaches you’ve ever seen. Keep in mind that square footage doesn’t include the dozens of gorgeous spots you can hit up snorkeling. So if you plan on covering 100+ square miles a day, seeing everything in a few days will be near to impossible.

If you’re thinking “Well now what, Millie? There’s so much to cover and not enough time”

Don’t you worry! I created a 5-day Kauai itinerary for you to follow to make the most out of your trip. I’ll be talking about the best place to stay, MUST DO experiences, need-to-try local food spots and much more all planned out for you to follow step-by-step.

Let’s get started!

Below you will find mine and Johns itinerary of what we did during our 6-day trip (technically 4 FULL Kauai days and 2 travel days). We feel like we had the perfect balance of traveling/exploring and relaxing and hope you get to experience that as well.


  • This was our travel day

    We landed in Kauai around noon, grabbed our rental car and went straight to the hotel, Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach, which is on the East side of the island to get settled in. We used this day to familiarize ourself with the hotel, plan out the content we needed to create for the rest of the week and relax.

This night was spent at the hotel pool because honestly…it was our favorite place to be the entire trip!

Monday – North Shore 

  • The Hanalei Experience
    We had no idea the North Shore was going to have so much to offer so we ended up splitting it up into 2 days of exploring. This first day was dedicated to seeing everything “Hanalei” specifically.

    The Hanalei Pier, where John proposed was wonderful as a sight seeing spot. However, it was not the best for snorkeling (we didn’t see any sea life) and we DON’T recommend jumping off the Pier (a local told us it’s more shallow than it looks and someone had broken their leg jumping in.

    Hanalei Town, is very cozy and is a great place to walk around, shop and tast all the food truck options!

    The Lookout, is the PERFECT picture spot.

Tuesday – North/East Shore

  • During our drive towards the North Shore the day prior, we took notes of all the local shops we wanted to stop at and today was the day we tried them out.

    We went up the coast exploring shops and beaches that looked exciting to us. This is where we tried Java Kai, Kalalea Juice Hale (our favorite spot to get coconuts!), and Kauai Chocolate.

    If that isn’t something that sounds adventurous enough for you, then dedicate this day to snorkeling at Anini Beach or visiting Queens Bath! Both are “must see’s” if you’re wanting to fill up the day with a plan and less spontaneity.

Wednesday – South/West Shore

  • Waimea Canyon was the furthest location from our hotel so we wanted to knock it off our list first thing in the morning. After eating at Eat Healthy Kauai, we drove to the lookout point (remember this is $5 for parking/entry) paused to enjoy every second and drove back down.

  • After Waimea Canyon we were ready to dive into some water, as I’m sure you will be too.
    Stop at Poipu Beach for snorkeling, say hi to some turtles and friendly fish and order a coffee float from their snack stand! Yes, you read that correctly, that’s a root beer float but with coffee!!

Thursday – East Shore 

  • John actually had started feeling like he was getting a cold and this was the day it hit him. We spent this last day cruising around our hotels side of the shore relaxing, which was 100% needed after back-to-back adventure.

  • Don’t forget to grab some souvenirs and shaved ice at the Coconut Marketplace!

  • At night, we went to our hotels Luau, if you have never been to one before. The experience of Hawaii’s culture and food is actually indescribable. We were lucky that the hotel we stayed at hosted a Luau every few days so we walked downstairs to that one and it was so exciting.

    If you need help finding a Luau near you, you can ask your hotel concierge or if you’re near the Coconut Marketplace they have a booth for tourists to book their adventures!

Friday – Going home…

  • Get a massage. After all the adventures you went on this week, you deserve it. Book an afternoon or evening flight so you can get a massage before heading out. John and I both agree it was the most perfect way to wrap up our trip.

Alright my lovely friends. I hope this Kauai guide and Itinerary helped you feel a little more prepared for your trip to Kauai. If you click away from this post remembering one thing is “embrace the island”. The weather can go from sunny to rainy in a blink of an eye depending on where you are. Be prepared for change and allow yourself to experience everything that comes your way. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you will fall in love and want to move there so you won’t have to worry about seeing EVERYTHING yet 😉

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