Kauai Drive Times

If you're visiting Kauai in the near future you're probably curious to know how long it's going to take to access various places on the island.

Below we've either chosen a beginning point (the airport in Lihue, for starters) OR a destination (such as Waimea Canyon or Hanalei), and how long you can expect the drive to arrive at various locations on the island.

Please note that these estimates are for non-rush-hour traffic, so increase the estimates by half an hour when traveling during rush hour. We've also included basic directions.

Kauai Map Packet

Kauai Map Packet

Updated with a new high-resolution Kauai map. Includes most major attractions, all major routes, airports, and a chart with estimated Kauai driving times.

PDF packet now additionally includes a Kauai Beaches Map.

Download on our Kauai Maps Page →

Lihue Airport

Lihue Airport

Starting Point: Lihue Airport

Destination: Waimea Canyon

Time Estimate: Approximately 75 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes). 36 total miles.

Directions: Take Highway 50 to Waimea town and take a right turn (inland) at the junction with Highway 550A. Continue on Highway 550A until you reach the Waimea Canyon Overlook signs. There are several overlooks in addition to the main (signed) overlook, so be sure to check out the different vantage points.

Destination: Po'ipu

Time Estimate: Approximately 30 minutes. 14 total miles.

Directions: Take Highway 50 to the junction of Highway 520 and take a left turn (toward the ocean) onto Hwy 520. Take 520 south past Kaloa town and follow the road (and signage) until you reach Po'ipu. Be mindful of the low-speed limits in these areas and know that at certain times of day, there will be more traffic heading into (or out of) Po'ipu. A day or two on the island will get you accustomed to Kauai's specific traffic patterns.

Destination: Kapa'a

Time Estimate: Approximately 25 minutes. 10 total miles.

Directions: Take Highway 56 north, past Wailua, until you reach Kapa'a town limits. Follow signage to your exact destination; most hotels will be on the right / makai (toward the ocean) when heading north.

Destination: Princeville

Time Estimate: Approximately 60 minutes. 30 total miles.

Directions: Take Highway 56 north, past Wailua, Kapa'a, Anahola, and Kilauea, and you'll come to Princeville on Kauai's beautiful north shore. Follow signs and hotel markers to your exact destination. If you reach the point the road becomes Hwy 560, you've gone beyond Princeville and will soon be in Hanalei. Approximately 10 miles beyond Princeville, on Hwy 560, is Ha'ena State Park & Tunnels Beach.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

Destination: Waimea Canyon (or Kokee State Park)

A word of advice: before you begin your journey up Hwy. 550, be sure to check your gas gauge. The round trip is about 36 miles with an elevation change of 4,000 feet. Highway 550 travels through the canyon area and ends at Puu o Kila Lookout. Makaha Ridge Road runs off Waimea Canyon Road just before mile marker 14 and travels to more scenic lookouts. Numerous lookouts and trails lead off of these two roads.

STARTING POINT: North Shore

Time Estimate: Approximately just under 2 hours. The drive may take longer if you encounter traffic in or around Lihue.

Directions: From North Kauai (starting on either Hwy 560 or Hwy 56) you'll want to follow the main highway clockwise around the island until it becomes Highway 50 in Lihue. From Lihue, stay on Highway 50 until you reach Hanapepe. Take Hwy. 50 west from Hanapepe toward Waimea. Waimea Canyon Drive is on the right just past mile marker 23. Continue up Highway 550 until you reach the signage for Waimea Canyon.

STARTING POINT: South Shore

Time Estimate: Approximately 1 hour.

Directions: Head north from the Poipu area until you reach Highway 530 in Old Koloa Town. Head north to Highway 50. Take Hwy. 50 west toward Waimea town. Waimea Canyon Drive is on the right just past mile marker 23. Continue up Highway 550 until you reach the signage for Waimea Canyon.

Haena Beach Park

Haena Beach Park

Destination: Ha'ena (North Shore)

Haena Beach Park (Including Kee & Tunnels Beach)

Haena Beach Park is located on Highway 560 west near mile marker 9. Tunnels Beach itself is located nearly directly across from mile marker 8 on Highway 560 going east from Hanalei towards Ha’ena, but we highly recommend you do NOT park on the street, as the police will ticket you for doing so. Your best solution is to park at Haena Beach Park, and walk down the beach to the right to reach Tunnels. To get to Kee Beach in Haena State Park, take Highway 560 east past Haena to the end of the road.

STARTING POINT: East Coast

Time Estimate: Approximately just under 2 hours. The drive may take longer if you encounter traffic in or around Lihue.

Directions: Take Highway 56 north until you reach Princeville. After this piont, the road will change to become Highway 560. At the end of this route is Kee Beach and the start of the Na Pali Coast. Once you pass Princeville, begin to make note of the mile markers and look out for those we mentioned above.

STARTING POINT: South Shore

Time Estimate: Approximately 100 minutes (1 hour 40 minutes). The drive may take longer if you encounter traffic in or around Lihue.

Directions: Head north out of Poipu until you reach Highway 520 in Kaloa Town. Take 520 until you reach Highway 50. Take Highway 50 east until you reach Highway 56 in Lihue. From there, continue on Highway 56 all the way around the island until you reach Princeville, after which the road will change to Highway 560. After Hanalei, depending on your exact destination - begin to keep an eye out for the mile markers we noted above.

Poipu Coastline

Poipu Coastline

Destination: Po'ipu (South Shore)

The southern Kauai town of Po'ipu is home to some of the sunniest beaches, such as Po'ipu and Shipwreck Beach, as well as a blowhole, and two National Tropical Botanical gardens. Needless to say, Po'ipu, knows how to draw a crowd.

STARTING POINT: North Shore or East Coast

Time Estimate: Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes from Princeville, longer if you encounter traffic in Lihue. Total distance is about 42 miles.

Directions: Take Highway 56 south until it becomes Highway 50 in Lihue. From here, take Highway 50 southwest toward the junction of Hwy 50 and Hwy 520 (Maluhia Road). Turn left onto Hwy 520 and continue until you reach Old Koloa Town. Proceed through town south on Poipu Road until you reach the traffic circle. At the circle, directly ahead of you is Baby Beach, Prince Kuhio Park, Lawai Beach, Beach House, and at the end the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Poipu Road heading east (270 degrees around the circle from where you entered) will take you to Poipu Beach Park, Brennecke's Beach, and more attractions such as the Lithified Cliffs at Makawehi.

STARTING POINT: West Kauai

Time Estimate: Approximately 30-45 minutes.

Directions: Take Highway 50 east until you come to the junction of Hwy 50 and Hwy 530 (Koloa Road). Turn right or makai (toward the ocean) onto Highway 530 and head south until just before you reach Koloa town. You'll want to make another right turn onto Ala Kalanikaumaka St and head south until you reach the Poipu traffic circle. From here, follow signs to your destination. If you're looking for Poipu Beach, at the traffic circle, take it all the way around (nearly 270 degrees) until you reach Poipu Road. Take Poipu Road until you reach Hoowili Road; Poipu Beach is at the end of the road. Shipwreck's beach and the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail are also further down Poipu Road, near the Poipu Bay Golf Course, just past the Grand Hyatt Kauai.

Aerial view of Wailua Falls

Aerial view of Wailua Falls

Destination: Wailua Falls (near Lihue)

If you've ever fantasized about seeing a double-tiered waterfall, then get ready to turn your fantasy into reality at the gorgeous Wailua Falls. And speaking of fantasy, Wailua Falls is so lovely that it was featured in the opening scene of the long-running TV show Fantasy Island. As an added bonus, when the sun hits at just the right angle you'll get a beautiful rainbow extending out from the base of the falls in the mist, which is nothing short of spectacular.

STARTING POINT: North Shore or East Coast

Time Estimate: Approximately 1 hour, about 35 miles from Hanalei. The drive may take longer if you encounter traffic in or around Wailua.

Directions: Take Highway 56 south until you reach the junction of Hwy 56 and Hwy 51. From here, turn right and stay on Highway 56 until you reach the intersection of Hwy 583. Here you'll want to turn right again onto Hwy 583 (Maalo Road). The junction is accompanied by a sign pointing you in the direction of the falls. Take the short drive up to this road, which will end at a parking lot overlooking the falls.

STARTING POINT: South Shore or West

Time Estimate: Approximately just under 1 hour, about 50 minutes without traffic. Nearly 30 miles from Waimea town.

Directions: Take Highway 50 east until it becomes Highway 56 in Lihue. From here, take Highway 56 north for around a mile until you see a road on your left- Maalo Road/Hwy. 583- accompanied by a sign pointing you in the direction of the falls. Follow this road to the end where the parking lot is located for the falls.

Recommended Kauai Tours
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