Kauai’s rugged Na Pali coast is a dream for hikers. The one-of-a-kind terrain found here boasts some of the most fantastic views on the planet – something you have to truly see to believe. Of course we recommend seeing the entire stretch of coastline on one of our tours, which will leave you in amazement. But in addition to seeing the Napali Coast by see, hiking from high above is an entirely different experience and one that is definitely not to miss. In this local guide we will discuss the world class trails in Kauai, including the Awa Awaapuhi trail.
The most famous trail on the Na Pali coast is the 11-mile journey to Kalalau. There is no doubt that the Kalalau trail is epic – but many people visiting do not have the time to make what is at least a 2-day strenuous journey into the heart of the Na Pali Coast.
Another amazing and less-discussed kauai hike showcasing the Na Pali Coast is from the ridge tops high above where the island meets the sky. Koke’e State Park has several stunning trails that will give you a spectacular panorama of the Napali coast and mountains.
One particular trail is the Awa Awaapuhi trail. At 6.5 miles round trip, it’s an ideal length for spending a half day out on the trail without feeling rushed.
Starting in the forested plateau of Koke’e, the trail slowly works it way downward along the ridge tops at a fairly steady rate. Throughout the trip the vegetation slowly changes from the misty highlands to the dry coastal brush, even cactus, to create a new landscape with every turn on the path.
The grade is never too steep to where you are scrambling, but a walking stick might be a good idea if you need extra support. It’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Be sure that you plan enough time to make the trip in it’s entireity, being sure that you have enough time to complete the journey without having to turn around due to fading sunlight or another engagement. The view at the end (or midpoint, depending on how you look at it) of the trail is definitely the highlight of the entire hike.
Once you reach the lookout, the ridges fade downward toward the sea, giving you a dramatic vista that looks straight down to the Awaapuhi trail on one side, and the cliffs of Nualolo on the other side (Nualolo Kai is one of our snorkeling spots on our tours).
Remember to always obey the signs, as they are there for everyone’s safety, and the conditions on the coast can change any minute.
Although the island is blessed with a wide variety of hiking trails, the Awa Awaapuhi Trail is one Kauai hike that stands out from the rest. With it’s wide, safe construction, moderate length and steepness, and breathtaking views, it is one that any avid hiker visiting, or living on, Kauai will absolutely love.