1 week in Kauai: what to do, where to eat, & how to stay healthy
Kauai (well, Hawaii) is one of my favorite vacation spots. It's warm (a must int the winter), relaxing (everyone is super friendly), has great food, and is absolutely gorgeous. We've been to all of the Hawaiian islands, and while I personally like the Big Island the best, Kauai is the quietest and arguably most beautiful. From must-do hikes and must-see beaches to the best poke on the island, this is a comprehensive guide if you only have 1 week on the island. Enjoy!
What to Do
The most beautiful hike in Kauai, in my opinion. There are a variety of trails: 2 miles one way, 4 miles one way, or 11 miles one way.
Get there early to find parking and bring an extra pair of shoes, change of clothing, and lots of bug spray — it’s very muddy and there are a lot of mosquitos. You can relax at the beach at the beginning of the trail, but you can’t swim in there in the winter.
This trail is 2 miles each way and gives you great views of Kapaa. There’s a picnic table at the top but no bathroom facilities.
There's a waterfall you can hike to (about 4 miles RT), as well as another longer trail you can hike that's 6 miles RT with stunning cliff views.
A very family-friendly beach, it has golden sand and calm waters.
There's a protected wave pool here that's great for snorkeling, but the actual beach is also beautiful.
This is one of the "must-see's" according to everyone I talked to, but honestly you can't see the sea glass until you're up close. It's a good place to stop by, but not much to do at the actual beach.
This beach has a couple of "hiking" trails nearby — I use the term "hiking" loosely because it's all sandy and would be great for pictures, but isn't an actual hike. There are a lot of bodyboarders and surfers here, since the waves are decently large.
Buried in Old Town, this is a great spot for pictures and a quick stop.
Where to Eat
What to get: Whatever they have on the menu
Porky's is famous for their hot dogs topped with Kalua pork. say heck yeah to the double meat and stuff your face. If you're Pale or GF, don't eat the bun.
What to get: The special of the day poke bowl
This is one of the "must try" sushi places in Kauai, but I honestly found it to just be OK. Very cute but overall pretty bland fish.
What to get: Salmon poke or a Hawaiian plate
Most of their poke is actually previously frozen, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Their salmon poke is fresh, however, and fantastic. The Hawaiian plates come with 2 scoops of rice and your choice of hot entrees like Kalua pig, but these run out quickly.
Makai Sushi & Koala Fish Market are 2 places that I heard were great but didn't get the chance to try — the Gorilla poke bowl at Makai sounded amazing though, so let me know if you happen to go (so I can live vicariously through you).
What to get: Smoothie bowls, healthy snacks
Located inside Kukuiula Market, Anake’s is the best juice bar I tried in Kauai. They have an expansive, unique menu and aren’t skimpy on the portions. They also have chia puddings, overnight oats, superfood dark chocolate, energy bars, and other goodies that you can buy. For more details, check out my Yelp review here.
Locations: Lihue, Kapaa
What to get: Poke, groceries
Although most of the poke here is frozen, the fresh ahi poke is local and fantastic. Honestly, it was better than the previously frozen ahi poke I had at Pono Market.
At $15.99/lb, it’s not too pricey either. Take it back, add some salad or rice (I added kale and purple sweet potatoes here!), and you have a cheap meal.
Safeway also has a variety of normal grocery and health food products, like fresh produce, meat, to-go items, etc. If you’re living in a condo, this is a good place to pick up fresh veggies and meat. Be on the lookout for Kauai-raised beef and Japanese sweet potatoes!
What to get: Snacks, bulk groceries, fish and meat
We stopped by Costco (AKA one of my favorite places) as one of our first stops from the airport. We got organic eggs, frozen kale, frozen peas, frozen edamame, frozen berries, organic carrots, fresh local opah (moonfish), super cheap red wine from Hawaii, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, FAGE yogurt, pineapples, clementines, Essential Living Organics superfood mix, Amazing Grass powder, and dry roasted salted almonds.
Costco is a great place to buy hiking snacks and breakfast foods (my go-to breakfast yogurt is above) — we finished everything we’d bought by the end of a week (minus the Amazing Grass powder, which I happily brought home). The almonds were especially good for hiking and come in a resealable bag, so you can bring it home with you if you aren’t nut-happy like my fam and go through 40 servings of almonds in a week.
What to get: Organic local goodies, smoothies
We got bags of organic kale here for $3.99/bag, which isn’t terrible. Everything else is pretty pricey, but as it’s basically a more hippie Whole Foods, it’s to be expected. I also picked up Teaonic here for $4.99 a bottle since I didn’t see it anywhere else on the island. They have GTS kombucha as well, but I’d go to Safeway to buy that since it’s over a $1 cheaper there.
Locations: Kapaa, other locations
What to get: Cheap non-organic produce and meat
We bought local Thai apple bananas, local avocados, and non-organic produce here. Not as great of a selection as the other grocery stores, but if you’re shopping on a budget, it’s a good place to go.
How to Stay Healthy
My family hiked almost every day we were here, which was a nice change from my normal high-intensity boxing, heated yoga, and spin classes. apart from hiking, if you’re looking for ways to stay active during your vacation, try these out:
Kauai seems to have the more Crossfit gyms than any other type of exercise. I didn’t get the chance to try any of them, but here they are in case you’re interested.
There’s a lack of consistent sidewalks in Kauai, so be careful when running. Luckily, the cars are pretty accommodating. You can run on the beach or on certain hiking trails (well, technically on all of them, but some are better than others) as well. Hawaii is hot and humid, which is an extra layer of discomfort AKA an upped level of training.
Water Activities: Surfing, Snorkeling, Stand Up Paddle-boarding
If you go in the summer, it’s far safer for these water activities. If you go in the winter, you still can, but be careful of which beaches you go to — the North Shore beaches tend to have larger swells. Rule of thumb: only go in the water if you see others (preferably locals) in there already.
Lyndsgate Beach, with its protected pool, is good for snorkeling. Shipwrecks Beach is good for body boarding/surfing. Waimea River is popular for stand up paddle-boarding.
I thought I was going to run every day in Kauai, but I honestly didn’t feel up to it, especially with 4-6 mile hikes later on in the day. Instead, I preferred short HIIT workouts that were 1) more effective and 2) saved a lot of time (because honestly, you’re on vacation). Here's a workout under 20 min that I did.