Aloha from Kaua'i!
Well our island is pretty small, so a "road trip" is going to be pretty limited!
I'd say to concentrate on either the North Shore area or the South or West sides of the island -- that way you won't be just sitting in a car all day doing nothing but watching the sites fly by your car.
Personally I think it would be fun to go to the North Shore -- there are lots of lovely beaches, and Hanalei Town is fun for walking around and shopping or eating -- it is the most dramatically tropical of any part of the island and most people seem to be looking for that. The Kilauea Wildlife Refuge is also a wonderful place up to watch frigate birds, layasan albatross and other seabirds in their natural habitat - they have a lovely little museum as well.
i'd do waimea canyon....the na pali coast section of kauai is definately more spectacular than the north shore of oahu, but that's only seen by sea or air (or partially from the top of the road via waimea canyon).
the driveable part of the north shore of kauai isn't much different from the north shore of oahu, really.
I'm going to throw a vote for koloagirl's suggestion. While Waimea Canyon is gorgeous and the west side is very scenic, the north side of Kauai takes that to a new level, which I rate as unmissable. Don't get me wrong -- the south/west are great -- but if you miss the north side, you'll miss the most beautiful and magical part of the island. ..ymmv..
i don't know if you've ever been to oahu or not, but the driveable part of the north shore of kauai is really no different than the drive along the north and northeast parts of oahu (minus the one lane bridges).
if they were going to get to see the na pali coast by driving the north shore of kauai, then i'd say go for it. but they won't.
waimea is truly unique (as is na pali, but you can't see that from a car). plus, if you drive to the lookout at the top of the drive through waimea, you'll get a great look at the na pali coast.
I don't know how long your 1 day is, if you like to drive you can do both of these as long as you start early in the morning...
From west Waimea Canyon to north Hanalei is approx 110 miles.
Oregonian: I don't know if you've ever been to the southwestern US (where the original poster is from) but in my humble opinion the west of Kauai is likely to bear quite a lot of resemblance to home. Whereas the north side of Kauai will be more fantastic. As I said: *YMMV*. Yes Waimea canyon is nice but there is nothing like the views of pretty much the entire north side of the island, from Kilauea, to Hanalei and west to the 'end of the road'. If I had time I'd do them both but if I only had time for one, sorry, I'm going north, Koloagirl is right, end of story.
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.
To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html
We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.