sweeping views of the Awa Awaapuhi Trail in Kokee State Park

Best Hikes on Kauai: Awa’awapuhi Trail in Koke’e State Park

In Adventure, Na Pali Coast, Things To Do: Makana Charters Blog, West Kauai Places, West Side by Makana ChartersLeave a Comment

Trip distance: 6.5 miles round trip

Elevation: 1,500 feet

Difficulty level: Hard

If you are hiking on Kauai, don’t miss this trail!

When looking for things to do on Kauai it can be difficult to choose from so many options. For such a small island, there is a remarkably diverse list of different activities one can enjoy during a visit here.flowers on the awaapuhi hiking trail in kokee state park, kauai

One of the best activities that both locals and visitors enjoy is hiking in Koke’e State Park. This park has many different trails that lead you to some of the most impressive views on the island. One of our favorites is the Awa Awa’apuhi trail. The trail leads you through a range of different plant life as you slowly head down in elevation for just over three miles. At the end of the trail is a lookout over Awa Awa’apuhi and Nualolo valleys, the Na Pali Coast and Pacific Ocean. We think that it is one of the best views Kauai – and for such a photogenic area, it stands high on the list of best views in the world.

forest in kokee state park on a hiking trail

The forest part of the hike at the beginning of the trail

The trail starts about a mile past the Koke’e lodge, 17 miles up Highway 550 from the town of Waimea (where our shop and booking office is located). If you need to fill up on water or snacks, or use the bathroom, make sure to stop at the lodge as you will be on your own after that.

The parking lot will be on your left side and the trail is well marked. For the first part of the trail the elevation declines pretty steadily, so be sure to have proper footwear and a walking stick/hiking poles if necessary. Luckily for most of the first half you are in the shade of the forest, as well as at a higher elevation, so temperatures are mostly cool. Depending on the season you can also find wildflowers blooming all around.

awa-awaapuhi-viewsSoon enough the trail opens up from the trees and you begin to see the first hint of the amazing views. But when that happens, you must keep on going, because the best part is at the end.

Finally , when you reach the end of the trail, you see the rewarding views that make the journey worthwhile. The lookout point is atop a high ridge with two valleys 2,000 feet below – Nualolo to the left, and Awa Awa’apuhi to the right.


While it may be a temptation to walk out on the narrow ridge, it is extremely unsafe to do so. The rock here is very unstable, and any misstep or gust of wind can cause you to lose your balance and fall down the mountain. We only say this as a word of caution, but if you obey the signs and enjoy the view from a safe distance you will be fine.

panoramic view of the awa awaapuhi valley in kokee state park, Kauai

The other caution is mud – after a fresh rain the trail can become muddy and slippery, especially the part at the end on the ridge. So if that is the case it is best to enjoy the view from higher up and not risk a fall. But if you use good awareness and adjust to the conditions, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view, a great workout, and a great spot to sit and reflect to feel the powerful mana of the Na Pali Coast.

To really get a feel for the Na Pali Coast, we invite you to come out and see the entire coastline on one of our boats. Beyond the amazing views, you will also be able to get up close inside sea caves (weather permitting), view wildlife in the sea and air, snorkel on one of the Na Pali reefs, and hear our crew talk story about the land. For more information, click here.

steep ridges line the nualolo valley in kokee state park, seen while hiking the na pali coast of kauai

The dramatic, steep ridges of the Nualolo Valley

Leave a Comment