Kauai is a paradise for hikers. Authorised or unauthorised, tedious or easy, long or short, you will find all varieties of trails on the island.
While there are seasoned hikers who visit Kauai to explore the challenging and equally rewarding hiking trails, a majority of visitors just want a quick and decent hike to have a tranquil and scenic experience.
Kauai has ample number of such hikes which are easy on your squats, but at the same time will treat you with some amazing views.
In this blog post, we will be covering five easy hiking trails that are best suited for beginners. These trails are well-maintained, fairly easy and can be completed in a short time without having to compromise on the views.
Here are the 5 best easy hikes in Kauai you can explore during your next visit to the Garden Isle:
5 Easy Hikes in Kauai
1. Waipoo Falls Hike
Location: Waimea Canyon (West Side)
Waipoo Falls Trail is sometimes referred to as Canyon Trail. The 3.6 mile out and back trail starts at the Puu HinaHina lookout and traverses the Waimea Canyon, ultimately leading to Waipoo Falls.
No, this is not a classic waterfall hike as many people imagine it to be. The trail actually leads to the top of Waipoo falls, and you’ll be standing beside the stream that turns into the waterfall. Nevertheless the views from this point are drop dead gorgeous as you’ll be directly staring into the belly of Waimea Canyon.
The trail has two scenic lookout points. The first lookout arrives while you’re still hiking through the forest and offers a close-up view of the beautiful rock formations on the Waimea Canyon.
You’ll then be hiking through a guarded pathway, followed by a downhill hike over rock boulders before arriving at the second lookout.
Continuing from here, you’ll come across a small waterfall and pool before reaching the final point, from where the stream starts plunging down as Waipoo falls.
2. Kuilau Ridge Trail
Location : Wailua (East Side)
This trail leading through the lush vegetation of Wailua Valley is anti-climatic for some people as it doesn’t lead to a “destination” like most trails do.
Kuilau Ridge Trail is a 2 mile out and back trail located inside the Keahua Arboretum.
The trail is easy to hike, except for the mud which can turn some people off. Along the path you will be exploring different varieties of tropical trees and grassfields, bordering the trail on both sides.
The views along the ridge keep getting better and better as you walk overlooking the stunning vistas of Wailua Region.
As you near the end of the trail, you’ll come across an area with huts and benches. This is an intersection point from where, the path on the right eventually leads to a sign board indicating an abrupt end to Kuilau Ridge Trail.
However, there is a feebly traceable path that continues straight from the hut area. This is where the real views are. This path leads to a dead end- a natural balcony-like setting, carpeted with thick ferns, offering epic panoramic views of the Wailua valley, Mount Waialeale and the Makaleha Mountain Range.
3. Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
Location: Shipwrecks beach, near Koloa (South side)
This is a 6 mile out and back moderately trafficked trail that demands minimum effort from hikers and is well suited for beginners. A unique feature of this trail is that it runs parallel to the coast for nearly two miles.
Unlike the dark Hawaiian rocks that we see on most of the island, this trail is supported by Lithified rocks, giving hikers stunning views of the ocean from the elevation.
One more thing that makes the hike unique is the continuously varying setting. Starting with limestone dunes, the terrain soon shifts into a sandy trail followed by a beach walk.
After a brief walk through the ironwood trees and a few tidal pools, you’ll find yourself walking on a dirt trail with the ocean one one side and a beautiful golf course on the other.
This point onwards, you can either head back, or continue further through the woods to explore the intriguing Makauwahi Cave, which is considered an archeological wonder in the Hawaiian Islands.
To sum it all up, this is a simple hike with amazing views and an excellent opportunity to spot native wildlife.
4. Ho’opi’i Falls Trail
Location: Near Wailua (East Side)
Hoopii falls is a cascade in Kapaa stream, which originates on the Makaleha Mountains and eventually joins Kealia Beach.
Sometimes the trail can get muddy, but the steady elevation makes it an easy hike. Since most of the hike is through the forest, you’ll have to duck under tree branches whenever they show up- a real-life version of Temple Run, you might say.
As you venture further, the forest looks denser and richer. The final portion is a little tricky, and demands a cautious approach. However, the destination, which is Hoopii Falls, makes the effort seem worthwhile.
There is a large pool underneath the falls where you can either take a refreshing dip, or simply relax on the rocks to seep in the views.
If the setting looks familiar, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen it in the 1993 Jurassic Park movie, in which it was featured as the Dominican Republic’s ‘Mano de Dios Amber Mine’.
5. Sleeping Giant Eastern Side Trail
Location: Wailua (East Side)
Does the name sound familiar to you? This mountain is visible from almost anywhere in Kapaa and is called so because of its profile.
There are three starting points to this hike, all of which end at the same destination, as they converge at a point shortly before the top of the mountain.
You can access the trailhead from Haleilio road which lies between mile markers 6 and 7 along Highway 56.
This four mile hike, has a steady elevation difference of 1200 ft, and is fairly easy if you’re in decent shape. Along this trail, you’ll be hiking over the giant’s chest with scenic views of Kapaa and Wailua Bay behind you.
When you spot a trail sign before approaching the peak, go towards the left for a simpler route. The only tricky part is the final Rocky stretch and the narrow drop offs before reaching the Giant’s head.
Once at the top, enjoy the splendid 360 degree view before heading back the way you came.
Summary and Infographic
The best part about these easy hikes is that they don’t require much planning. This allows you to have a flexible approach and squeeze these hikes into your vacation itinerary pretty easily.
Do share your Kauai hiking experience with us.
Note: This article was originally published on 2 December 2019. It has since been updated regularly for relevance and freshness.