Best Hiking Trails in Kauai

Kauai is a beautiful island, but it’s much more than just sand, surfing, and drinks with little umbrellas in them.  It’s also well known for having incredible hikes of all difficulty levels.

Plus, you’re never going to feel more like Indiana Jones than hiking here, because it’s where Harrison Ford was for the filming of the opening sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So lace up your boots, and get ready to see nature like you’ve never have before! Here’s a list of the best hiking trails in Kauai.

Easy Hikes

Kuilau Trail Saturday morning 11.14.15. #kuilautrail #kauai #luckywelivekauai #hikingtrail #nature

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Kuilau Trail (Click here for map)

This trail resting on the east side of the island is a nice, easy one.  Also, it travels through a lot of vegetation, so you’ll get to see a wide variety of different plant species.  It connects to other trails if you’d like to go on a much longer hike, but one of the great things to do is find a grassy spot and just relax with a picnic for a while.

Mahaulepu Coastal Trail (Click here for map)

The beautiful beaches of the south shore have caused it to become one of the most developed areas of the island, so there aren’t many hiking opportunities around it.  However, this is an easy trail that weaves along the coast for about two miles.  You’ll probably have the opportunity to see some sea turtles in the more protected inlets, and you might even spot some whales out in the ocean.

Medium Hikes

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Awaawapuhi Trail (Click here for map)

This great trail is located in Waimea Canyon on the east side of the island.  It isn’t the easiest there is, but it’s not extremely challenging.  It starts in the Kokee State Park, and the whole route has a nearly 2,000 foot change in elevation.  Also, it has a mix of densely forested areas, and there are some immensely beautiful views of the coast.

Hanakapiai Trail (Click here for map)

This amazing hike along the Napali Coast on the northern part of the island is often referred to as one of the most beautiful treks in all of Hawaii.  It starts off with a big climb in elevation, but then it mostly levels out.  A great tip is to arrange for someone to pick you up on the other side so that you don’t have to do the two miles a second time to get back.  However, you’ll be looking down on a coral reef, so most people don’t complain about making the trip twice!

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Nounou Trail (Click here for map)

This name means Sleeping Giant Trail because it takes you across a rock formation that looks like, well, a sleeping giant.  It’s about two miles of moderate difficulty, and it has an elevation gain of around 1,000 feet.  There are multiple trails that go across the Sleeping Giant, but this one is more accessible and has a view of the ocean the whole time.

Waipo Falls (Click here for map)

Would you like to see a stunning waterfall that drops for about 800 feet?  Of course you would.  This hike allows you to go one step further by hiking to the top of Waipo Falls and having a great view of Waimea Canyon.  Since it’s not too difficult, this is a good hike for families with children.

Difficult Hikes

Kalalau Trail (Click here for map)

A round-trip journey on this trail is about 22 miles, so attempting the whole trek is only for serious hikers.  But, it adds a little bit of history to your adventure because it’s the only land access to the Napali Coast, so it’s long been necessary for the islanders to use it.  Are you up for the challenge?

Keahua Arboretum, Kauai #keahuaarboretum #kauai #hawaii

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The Powerline Trail (Click here for map)

The name for this is much easier for non-Hawaiians to understand, and it’s called that because it’s part of a route that is used for maintenance of the electrical lines.  But you’ll need plenty of energy yourself, because many of the 26 round-trip miles of this trail aren’t very well maintained, and they’re a challenge to get through.  On the other hand, if you make it to the end, you’ll have a lovely swimming hole with a rope swing to cool off in.

Hiking Safety

Kauai is a safe place to go hiking, but keep in mind that the great outdoors always have some risks involved.  Whether you’re going by yourself or in a group, make sure you let someone know where you’re going and what time you plan to return.  Also, check the weather forecast and make sure you’re prepared for the temperature, and bring strong clothes and shoes.  Don’t forget to bring some basic supplies in case you run into any situations needing first aid.

But, don’t be afraid to get out and explore the Garden Isle with the best hiking trails in Kauai!  Happy hiking!

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