Some of the best hiking routes in Hawaii, if not the world, can be found on the island of Kauai. If you enjoy hiking, Kauai will not disappoint you. Some of the best hikes in Kauai are a must-go-to destination. Hiking on one of Kauai’s many paths is an excellent opportunity to appreciate the island’s natural splendor.
Routes and hikes abound on the island, ranging from 3,000-foot ridge and cliff trails to treks along the stunning NaPali coastline. Some routes lead you along the beach, while others take you into Waimea Canyon or the world’s highest upland marsh, and yet others rise thousands of feet above sea level to provide stunning vistas. No other Hawaiian island, in our opinion, can make the same impression on trekkers as Kauai.
Moreover, mountain waterfalls, tropical rain forests, secluded beaches, the world’s tallest swamp, and impressive precipices with jaw-dropping views may all be found on Kauai hiking routes. To help you pick which Kauai treks are ideal for you, we’ve produced a list of the Top Ten Kauai Hikes.
10 Best Hikes in Kauai
1. Kukui Trail
Kukui is an 8.0-kilometer out-and-back trail that leads to Waimea Canyon’s bottom! It is a challenging trail that drops 2,000 feet to the canyon floor and takes an average of 3 hours and 7 minutes to finish. Eventually, it will lead you to the Wiliwili Campsite, where you can camp with a permit.
Because this is a popular camping, hiking, and strolling destination, you will undoubtedly run into other people while exploring. Other routes lead farther into the mystery canyons from the campsite for more advanced and prepared hikers. The trail is available all year and is a lovely place to come.
2. Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail runs along the island of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast in Hawaii. From Kee Beach to the Kalalau Valley, the trail stretches for about 11 miles along the island’s north shore. Many people tag this trail as “one of America’s most gorgeous and perilous hikes.”
Hiking the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Beach is a popular option for many. The Hanakapiai Trail is another name for this section of the trail. Hiking inland from Hanakapiai Beach to the spectacular Hanakapiai Falls is also an option.
Expert hikers or trail runners can finish the 22-mile roundtrip walk in one day, but the ordinary hiker will need at least two days and will camp along the way. Hanakoa Valley (6-mile mark) and Kalalau Beach are the only places where camping is allowed.
3. Sleeping Giant Trails
One of three Nounou Mountain Trails is the Sleeping Giant Trail. You will see why the trail is called that as you hike across the huge guy’s chest. The “giant’s” profile can be seen from almost anywhere in Kapaa; however, you will probably notice his chin first.
Proceed with caution since the trail is incredibly narrow in places, with several hundred-foot drop-offs. To get to the trail, take Highway 56 north from Lihue. At the traffic light after 8 miles, turn west onto Haleilio Road. Look for telephone pole #38 with the trailhead marking on your right as the road begins to curve to the left.
4. Kalepa Ridge Trail
The Kalepa Ridge Trail provides breathtaking valley views from above. This trail is one of Kauai’s most gorgeous, which says a lot on this fantastic island. As seen from the iconic Kalalau Lookout, the Kalepa Ridge Trail follows the Kalalau Valley’s left (western) ridge. The Kalepa Ridge Trail gives even more stunning views of the valley and the Na Pali Coast, and the overlook is often recognized as Kauai’s most scenic site.
5. Pihea Trail / Alakai Swamp Trail
The Pihea Trail and the Alakai Swamp Trail join to explore some of Kauai’s most lush and picturesque places. The wide Pihea Trail provides many views of Kalalau Valley, while the Alakai Swamp Trail leads the interior to a lush alpine, tropical paradise near the island’s famous Mount Waialeale.
6. Canyon Trail
The Canyon Trail, one of Kauai’s most popular hikes, leads hikers along the brink of Waimea Canyon to the top of Waipoo Falls. The walk gives spectacular views of Waimea Canyon, but the main attraction is the incredible experience at the top of the falls.
7. Mahaulepu Trail
It is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful walks. Hiking Kauai’s Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is a reasonably easy hike with spectacular ocean views nearly the entire way. Hikers can hike along the side of Waimea Canyon to the top of Waipoo Falls via the Canyon Trail. The walk gives spectacular views of Waimea Canyon, but the main attraction is the incredible experience at the top of the falls.
8. Awaawapuhi Trail
Another Kokee trail, the Awa’awa’puhi Trail, promises sweeping views and trips through lush jungles and parched landscapes. This trail almost literally takes hikers to the edge of the planet, making it a bucket list item and Instagram selfie destination for many. After a pretty tedious three-mile climb down a forested, muddy road, the prize is a stunning, jaw-dropping vista of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast from the top.
9. Kuilau Ridge Trail
The Kuilau Ridge trail is one of the most accessible routes on the list. It is a terrific hike if you want to be surrounded by a lush forest setting while also getting a good perspective into Kauai’s center, towards Waialeale.
The hike is short and easy, making it ideal for families with children. Keep a watch on the weather, as the trail is prone to rainstorms, which accounts for the lush greenery. This trail is beautiful in general.
10. Okolehao Trail
Hikers can enjoy a lush jungle and mountain wonderland with views of Hanalei Bay and beyond on the Okolehao Trail. Despite its lack of popularity, the Okolehao Trail is one of our favorite Kauai walks. The track fulfills our desires for an unusual trip in a hilly and jungly setting. The Okolehao Trail is a beautiful alternate hike on the North Shore now that the Kalalau Trail/Hanakapiai Trail requires permits or reservations.
Explore the Trails of Hawaii
Knowing how or when to start your exploration in Hawaii can sometimes be overwhelming. And if you need help, Makana Charter Tours can take care of you! Check out our private tours and the Napali tours offering.
We have a lot of interest in the private tours. Couples, families, groups of friends, business groups, and wedding groups all vacation in Kauai. If you have a group that wishes to be guided and relax without being surrounded by others, a private charter on the Na Pali Coast is strongly suggested.
Join us on a Na Pali Coast trip if you don’t mind being among other tourists. Onboard the Na Pali Kai III, a 49-foot catamaran with powerful twin Cummins diesel engines and Sea Fury surface motors that provide a speedy and comfortable ride.