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Hawaii: Oahu and Kauai in 7 Days

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

We arrived on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, at 6 PM. Got our rental car, grabbed groceries, and drove to our B&B in Poipu. We stayed at the Poipu B&B inn on Hoonani road and loved it.

Day 1

  • Awa’awapuhi Trail
  • Ho’opi’i Falls Trail Head
  • Wailua Falls

Drove up to Kokee State Park – 35 miles but an hour and 15 mins b/c of winding roads and lower speed limits. There’s only one road to get to Waimea Canyon and the park – highway 550 – and it dead-ends at Pu’u O Kila Lookout so you can’t/won’t get lost. Did the Awa’awapuhi trail, easy to find the parking for the trailhead, just after mile marker 17 on the left – there are easy-to-see green mile markers up and down the whole road. Completely clouded over, did the hike in the pouring rain and had no views. Drove back through Waimea Canyon and took pictures at all the different overlooks.

Since the weather was nice and the rest of our time was looking rainy/cloudy, we drove past Poipu to Ho’opi’i Falls. The first waterfall is the one you can jump into, and the second is probably 15-20 minutes further. Lots of locals jumping in the first one, wouldn’t say going to the second one is a must-do, but nice hike.

Then drove to Wailua Falls – you can hike down to the right side where the bridge ends, otherwise the view is just from the road. Thought it was worth the side-trip. We were definitely all over the place this day, and not what we had planned, but let the weather kind of dictate what we did.

Wailua Falls – definitely worth a stop

Day 2

  • Waimea Canyon Trail
  • Kalalau Lookout
  • Pu’u O Kila Lookout
  • Mahaulepu Beach

Drove back up to Kalalau and Pu’u O Kila Lookouts, completely clouded again. Went back down a bit and did the Canyon Trail. Really cool views, took a couple hours.

Went back up to the lookouts and although they were completely cloudy, it did clear for a couple minutes and we got to see the valley and rainbows. So we decided to do the Awa’awapuhi Trail again thinking it might be promising, but no luck there. Disappointing to do a 6+ mile hike twice for no reward, and it’s a pretty boring hike.

Went back to Poipu and drove to Maha’ulepu Beach. If you do this, make sure you have a 4×4 that’s not yours. OK, maybe not completely necessary, but this was the worst road I’ve ever driven on, and have no clue how our Chevy Spark didn’t bottom out over every crater. Took over 15 minutes to go 2 miles, and that’s without another car in sight. Nice beach, but don’t know if it’s worth the trip.

Day 3

  • Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
  • Shipwreck’s Beach
  • Ke’e Beach
  • Kalalau Trail
  • Kilauea Lighthouse

It was nice in Poipu so we did the Heritage Trail. Nice, easy hike, and jumped off the cliff at Shipwreck’s Beach – great photos. Then drove to the North Shore, which was showing rain and clouds the whole 4 days we were there. Planned on spending a whole day up there, but when there was sunshine in the south, it didn’t make much sense to waste an entire day in clouds and rain (especially since we spent much of the previous 2 days in the clouds/rain).

Got to the end of the road at Ke’e Beach, hiked most of the first 2 miles of the Kalalau Trail and headed back. Had some views of the Na Pali coast (completely cloudy at the top of course) and saw some whales in the water, but knew if we did the full 2 there wouldn’t be any better views and we weren’t too interested in going to the waterfall (would have definitely if the weather was better). Drove back and stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse – beautiful setting but was closed when we got there (closes at 4 PM). Still glad we saw it, great photos of the area. Back to Poipu.

Day 4

Started out shopping in Poipu, went to the blowhole and saw a couple more whales and decided to book a whale watching tour if anything was available. We had originally booked a sunset whale watching/Na Pali coast tour with Captain Andy’s for the beginning of our stay, but they couldn’t get to the Na Pali coast any of the days we were there because of the weather and we didn’t want to spend that kind of money to tour the South Shore. Found a 2-hour tour that worked perfectly to get us back in time for our 7:30 PM flight to Honolulu, picked up car and drove to Kailua where we stayed for the next 3 nights.

The 4 days on Kauai didn’t turn out like we had hoped/planned because of the weather, but it was still great. We got very early starts each of the days (up at 5 AM), and had originally planned to do Awa’awapuhi Trail, Waimea Canyon then the Na Pali/whale watching boat ride on day one. Day two was going to be North Shore/Kalalau Trail. Next was going to be the Heritage Trail and the waterfalls. Day four was open in case the weather was really bad one of the days. If only it worked out like that.

Day 5

  • Moanalua Valley Trail Start (Kulana’ahane)
  • Kalapawai Cafe & Deli

On Oahu, went to the Moanalua Valley to go up the Middle Ridge and get to the Haiku Stairs (aka Stairway to Heaven). Poured rain, quite dangerous, but made it to the top and had some pretty clear views. One of the best hikes/views/experiences in the world, had been wanting to do the stairs for years and am glad there was an alternative way to get there.

Do your research though, there are a lot of legal and safety issues. The Moanalua Middle Ridge is a legitimate hiking trail that takes you to the top of the stairs. It is illegal to go on the stairs, so if that’s your goal do not start or end at the bottom of the stairs. There is a guard there and I’ve heard it’s only gotten worse since we were there as far as citations go.  Ate dinner at Kalawapi Café, fantastic meal and perfect after a long, rewarding day of hiking.

Day 6

  • Waimanalo Beach
  • Halona Blow Hole
  • Koko Crater Arch
  • Koko Crater
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
  • China Walls

Drove down the coast and the Halona Blowhole was going to be our first stop, but we stopped, backed up, and had to get out at this amazing looking beach. Took some pictures and enjoyed the view – we were the only ones out there and it was just stunning. Found out afterwards it was Waimanalo Beach. We parked by the blowhole but didn’t even look at it – crossed the street to do the Koko Crater Arch hike. Very easy, but it was unbelievably windy so we didn’t go on the arch, just took pictures. Can skip.

The Hanauma Bay parking lot was full, so we drove to the Koko Head Crater Trail and went up. It’s certainly a climb, but saw ppl of all ages doing it. Take your time if you need to, but the views from the top are awesome. We weren’t sure if this is something we were going to do, but glad we did.

Went back to Hanauma Bay, lot was open so we spent the afternoon there. Hiked up and over to the other side of the bay for some great views of the bay with Koko Crater in the background and tried to find the Hidden Rock Bridge, but it was dangerously windy again so we didn’t get to close to the water and didn’t find it. We were told this whole area was closed, FYI, but it was our experience that everyone warning you was more like “I’m obligated to tell you you shouldn’t go there, but have a good time.” Use your discretion. Then drove to China Walls to watch the sunset over Diamond Head. Several locals were there and it’s a great place for sunsets.

Day 7

  • Twogood Kayaks Hawaii
  • Lanikai Beach

Last day – rented a kayak from TwoGood Kayaks, threw it on the roof and went out on the sea from Lanikai Beach. Packed up our stuff and flew back home at 3:30.

Great trip overall. Glad we decided not to go to the north shore on Oahu – there was plenty to do in the southeast part of the island. Things didn’t go exactly to plan because of the weather, but I would definitely stay in Poipu again on Kauai. I debated on whether to stay 2 nights on the north shore and 2 on the south and am really glad we chose one place for all 4 nights. Sure there was more driving, but it was centrally located and a rather easy drive to both ends of the road.

On Oahu, Kailua was the perfect place to stay for us. There were some fantastic restaurants (Crepes No Ka Oi, Moke’s Bread and Breakfast, Kalapawai Café), less hectic than Honolulu, and it was easy to get to Hawaii Kai. The only thing we would do differently is maybe not go during the rainy season because we planned on spending a lot of our time in the mountain areas.

Traveled in March 2015

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