Best Day Hikes In Kauai, Hawaii

The time came when we could finally fulfill one of our biggest dreams: visit Hawaii! Oh yeah, but Hawaii means not only one island – which one should we choose? That was the next question.

Na Pali Coast Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

‘If you love hiking, you should go to Kauai!’ – that was the recommendation from friends including our beloved friend Google, too. 🙂 And that was an argument which really impacted our final decision to choose Kauai – which we absolutely haven’t regretted!

It is the most unspoilt of the Hawaiian islands and we explored such unforgettable places and hidden beauties there! Let us show you our favorite hikes in Kauai.

Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

I wrote an entire post about this amazing, challenging, unique tropical hike which was our absolute favorite – you can read it here.

In a nutshell, it’s about crystal clear turquoise water, Na Pali Coast’s towering cliffs and lush green valleys, special tropical plants, flowers, streams, a huge waterfall… Every step of this hike is magical (and probably muddy, too).

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Kalalau Trail itself requires multiple days if you go all the way, but a shorter section until Hanakapi’ai Beach followed by the trail leading to the 300 feet (91 m) Hanakapi’ai Falls is ideal for a day hike.

Hiking essentials
  • Length: 8 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: strenuous
  • Start: Ke’e Beach

Nualolo Trail

Lolo Vista, Kauai, Hawaii

This hike on a ridge led us to Lolo Vista, the most perfect view we’ve seen of Na Pali Coast while hiking and one of the best panoramas we’ve seen on our hikes in the US!

Oh, and watch out for secret waterfalls in the valleys, we spotted some from Lolo Vista.

Unlike Kalalau Trail, this is not a busy trail at all, so we could find peace and quiet in the tropical forest.

Hiking essentials
  • Length: 7.6 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Start: park at Koke’e Lodge & Museum and walk to the trailhead which is a bit south of it

Kukui Trail

Kukui Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

This short, but steep trail took us down to the bottom of Waimea Canyon which is often referred as Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It really looks like Grand Canyon, just there’s a lot more green and waterfalls here as a tropical addition.

We were rewarded with great views of the canyon all the way (there’s always a reason for a rest stop) and we could cool down our feet in the Waimea River finally. Csaba even swam in a small pool of the Waimea River – I also tried… it was just damn cold for me.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

I can tell it’s not a busy hike, we haven’t met anyone else all the way. There’s very few shade though, so it’s better to do this hike early in the morning and be finished by noon.

Hiking essentials
  • Length: 5 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: strenuous
  • Start: look for a sign marking the trailhead along Route 550, then park at the pullout and start with a short nature trail which will lead you to the Kukui Trailhead

Pihea & Alaka’i Swamp Trail to Kilohana Lookout

Pihea Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

This hike starts with breathtaking Na Pali Coast views and ends with breathtaking Na Pali Coast views! Actually, we could also see a large part of the north coastline of Kauai from Kilohana Lookout.

The green valleys are full of hidden waterfalls and hiking through the swamp was also such a unique experience! And there was barely any mosquitoes which surprised us.

Kilohana Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii

Moderately busy trail with lots of shade.

Hiking essentials
  • Length: 8 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Start: Pu’u O Kila Lookout (end of Route 550)

Which Hawaiian island do you like the most / do you want to visit the most?

Just a side note on the difficulty of the hikes: usually I’ve never found these estimations accurate and probably they can’t be, because it’s so relative. These are our estimations in this post and we just wanted to give a hint about the difficulty and help comparing the hikes from this point, too.


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4 comments on “Best Day Hikes In Kauai, HawaiiAdd yours →

  1. Kauai is definetely my favorite island… maybe because I live on it! 🙂
    There’s wonderful hikes in Kauai, but to me one of the most fun things to do in Kauai is tour in a SUP the Wailea River!
    Is the only navigable river in the state of Hawaii, and I recommend it to all visitors to this wonderful island!
    My friend Brandon have the best rental SUP boards in Wailea in case you want to check it out,

    1. Living in Kauai… it seems almost unreal that people live their everyday lives in a place like that. 😀 It could be wonderful! We’ve been kayaking on the Wailua River and enjoyed it very much!

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