Absolute best hikes on Kauai to do now

The Garden Isle of Kauai is so lush and green with open spaces that makes hiking around the island so rewarding with stunning views, gorgeous waterfalls to shoreline trails that are inspiring and worth exploring. Many of the best hikes on Kauai are relatively easy to moderate and covers flat or rolling terrain with fantastic views and landscapes that invite you to keep exploring. The best hikes on Kauai are quite inspiring and you’ll enjoy all these wonderful hikes to explore on your own pace and ability.

Absolute best hikes on Kauai to do now

Kapa’a Shoreline Trail

This beautiful island has its fair share of challenging hikes. But if you’re looking for an easier hike in Kauai, the Kapa’a Shoreline Trail (also known as Ke Ala Hele Makalae- The Path That Goes by the Coast) is a great, accessible option. The trail is entirely flat, with stunning views along the rugged coastline accompanied by a cooling sea breeze.  

The path is ideal for hikers of all abilities; or simply anyone in need of a peaceful, less strenuous walk than one of Kauai’s many mountainous hikes. It is 7.2 miles out and back trip.

A great place to start the hike is Kapa’a Beach Park, where there’s ample parking available. Then follow the trail along the shoreline in the direction of Keālia Beach, a stunning golden sandy beach popular with surfers. (It’s worth noting that there are bathroom facilities here.) At certain times of year, this hike can be a great place to spot migrating whales, so keep your eyes on the horizon. 

The Pineapple Dump Pier is a brilliant viewpoint on the trail, with views over the ocean and towards Donkey Beach, the end goal of your hike. Back in the mid-1900s, this pier was where the Pono Pineapple Company dumped their unusable pineapples into the sea, causing rather a smell when they washed back into land. Thankfully this is a thing of the past! 

Currently the trail runs from Lydgate Beach to Kuna Bay, although there are plans to extend the path to seventeen miles in total, sticking closely to the shoreline. Finally, bear in mind that there isn’t much shade on the Kapa’a Trail, so lather up the sunscreen and bring plenty of water. 

Check out Alex’s post on solo travel to Kauai

Kapa’a Shoreline Trail

Hiking the Kuilau Ridge Trail

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is one of Hawaii’s most popular hikes and an absolute must-do when you are visiting the island. The trail is known for its scenic views and incredible nature so make sure you pack your camera. At just under 6 kilometers in length or 3.6 miles out and back, this trail is fairly easy to manage although it can be steep in places. The trail is accessible year-round although it’s of course more enjoyable to hike when the weather is nice. The hike is not a round-trip so you’ll have to walk back the way you came in the beginning.

Parking is available at the start of the trail although only a limited number of cars can fit in the small lot. You might have to park a little further away on a busy day. It’s advisable to come early as this trail is quite popular and can become crowded during peak times. On the way, you’ll see many native species of birds as well as rare plants. There are multiple waterfalls and lookout points along the way which make the perfect photo opportunity. The hike takes around 2 to 3 hours in total depending on your own speed. It’s an overall very enjoyable hike with lots to see so make sure you add it to the top of your Hawaii bucket list.

Check out the All Trails details to visiting this hike here.

Victoria with Guide Your Travel

Check the details below to hiking any of the Kauai trail for safety and hiking.

Hiking the Kuilau Ridge Trail

Hiking the iconic Kalalau Trail

Considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the world, the Kalalau Trail is one of the best things to do in Kauai, especially if you’re a hiker. The trailhead is located off of Highway 56. Parking is located at the end of the road where you will find the trailhead leading you to the trail.  

The full trek is 11 miles one direction and is often done over 2-3 days. For those that don’t have the time for the entire trek, don’t let that deter you. Even doing a small part of the trek gives you incredible photo ops and views of the surrounding area. In fact, most people that hike the trail never end up hiking the whole thing. Many only hike to the first beach where you can enjoy an incredible, secluded beach all to yourself. To reach the beach, you cross a river that runs from the mountains straight into the ocean.

The trail lies within the epic Na Pali coast, one of the most famous coast lines in Hawaii. Towering cliffs surrounded by deep blue ocean, the views in the area are one of a kind. Hundreds of towering waterfalls within deep tropical forest adds to the views along this hike. The hike is considered to be challenging and requires traversing through valleys, cliff sides and beaches. Overnight camping permit is required to complete the hike beyond the first two miles which must be reserved in advance.

Check the details below to hiking any of the Kauai trail for safety and hiking. Hiking to Kalalau requires a permit to hike the area, check out the website here for more details.

Check out the All Trails details to visiting this hike here.

Lina – BucketListPlaces.com

Hiking the iconic Kalalau Trail

A beautiful hike to Waipo’o Falls in Waimea Canyon

One of the most inspiring hikes to do in Waimea Canyon is to the spectacular waterfalls hike from Canyon Trails to Waipo’o Falls which is a 3.4-mile hike round trip to enjoy the stunning waterfalls in the end. This popular hiking trail is considered a moderate hike but does go through an elevation gain of approximately 1200 feet and takes about 3 to four hours to do depending on how many breaks you like to do along the hike. At about the halfway point, you’ll be able to see Waipo’o falls which drops down a height of about 800 feet, this usually the best spot to take a nice break and enjoy the views. The final destination of this hike is the Kumuwela lookout point with spectacular views of the island from the mountain top and down all the way to the ocean.

The best time to explore it is from October to February when the waterfall is at its best. Although during the wet season, it is very muddy and slippery with areas that are exposed and the cliffs look somewhat scary so you should take some of these areas slowly along the cliffside walks. The terrain is varied from forest to open and exposed with stunning views of the surrounding canyon landscape to enjoy. The short detour to the Cliff view was quite spectacular and quite breath taking.

Check out the All Trails details to visiting this hike here

Check the details below to hiking any of the Kauai trail for safety and hiking.

A beautiful hike to Waipo’o Falls in Waimea Canyon

The Cliff Trail at Waimea Canyon

Located at Waimea Canyon state park, the Cliff trail is primarily a beginner’s trail that only spans about a tenth of a mile and the views are quite spectacular. This short trail is easy walking through the ridge top with wonderful views of the canyon. You can easily do this easy hike in less than a half hour and combine it with other cool hikes around Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park like Halemanu road that connects with the Cliff trail and is approximately .8 miles on a dirt road.

The Cliff Trail at Waimea Canyon

Ho’opi’i Falls

An easy hike that skirts the river bank and forested trails. The Ho’opi’i falls hike is about two miles round trip and the hike is considered easy to moderate on dirt trails to the water fall area with two waterfalls that you will encounter along the way. Check out the video below for more details and inspiration to visiting.

Check out the All Trails details to visiting this hike here.

Moalepe Trail

An easy to do jungle inspired trail that goes through some beautiful forested areas on the east side of Kauai near Kapa’a. HIking on mostly dirt trails that is about 5 miles round trip, you’ll see some of the gorgeous green jagged ridges of Makaleha and far off ocean views. The trail is perfect for the beginner hiker looking for an easy start but can be muddy on rainy days so wear appropriate shoes for hiking.

Check out the All Trails details to visiting this hike here.

More details and safety to visiting these Kauai hiking trails

Check to see if the road conditions are open to the trail locations for your hike

Check to see if there are any parking or permit requirements to hiking those particular trails mentioned above.

Also check the weather for fair to good weather when hiking is more favorable compared to rainy or changing weather when hiking is difficult or more dangerious

Winter conditions to many trails in Kauai is very muddy, wet and can be very difficult, check for conditions before you undertake any hiking on the island.

Stream crossings are dangerous in winter or rainy conditions so look for other areas to do hikes during bad weather times.

Stay hydrated and wear appropriate shoes on all these hikes

The trails are always crumbling and changing so always be aware of your surroundings and footing on unstable conditions.

Always stay on the trail so you don’t get lost or damage any endemic plants in the area.

Check out these other topics on visiting Kauai now

Visiting beautiful Wailua Falls

Top things to do in Lihue

Explore the north shore and Hanalei area

Have a beach day on Kauai’s beaches

Have you done any fun hikes in Kauai?

Please share your thoughts and other recommendations in the comments below with your tips and suggestions for additional hikes to try on the island.

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10 Comments

  1. Jackie K Smith

    Kauai is one of the most beautiful places on earth – thanks much for this great guide for digging a bit deeper and seeing more. It is a keeper!

    Reply
    • emorata

      Kauai is special and hiking through the area and seeing al the spectacular landscape really gives you a sense of place and being in paradise

      Reply
  2. Doreen Pendgracs

    Kauai is such an extraordinary island! I’ve done some of these hiking trails, but can see I have a lot more to do!

    Reply
    • emorata

      Good on you for doing some of these hikes in Kauai, it is amazing to explore right?

      Reply
  3. Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    These hikes are so amazing. Each one seems better than the previous. Just when i thought that an oceanside hike would be the best, I see the waterfall hike. Now I am torn between them, so I would imagine that it can only be remedied with multiple hikes.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Hiking in Kauai is a special experience from the mountains, rim trails, canyons, waterfalls to the cliffs and oceanside. It is all spectacular

      Reply
  4. Carol Colborn

    Wow, so many beautiful trails…coastline, ridge, and canyon. And leading to waterfalls. So when it us a 2-3 day hike, do you tent camp?

    Reply
    • emorata

      The hikes in Kauai are so varied and fits all different skill levels which is fantastic for this spectacular landscape

      Reply
  5. Juliann - Browsing the Atlas

    Beautiful! My boyfriend loves to hike. I’m going to share this post with him. Maybe I’ll get a trip to Hawaii out of it, lol. 😉

    Reply
    • emorata

      These are fantastic hikes to do in Kauai with amazing scenery and views, just be aware of changing conditions noted on the detailed section.

      Reply

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Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.