Best Day Hikes In Kauai, Hawaii

So the time came to fulfill a dream, quite a big one: visiting Hawaii! But Hawaii doesn’t mean only one island – which one should we choose? If you love hiking, you should go to Kauai! – that was the recommendation of our American friends, including our beloved old friend Google, too. 🙂 That argument heavily impacted our final decision to choose Kauai – a choice we couldn’t have been more satisfied with.

Na Pali Coast Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is the oldest, and probably also the most unspoilt of the Hawaiian islands. About 80% of the island is not even accessible by car – only by boat, by helicopter or on foot. We explored unforgettable places and hidden beauties! We’ve spent about half of our time on beaches, and the other half hiking. To give you a taste of what was waiting for us out there, let us show you our favorite hikes:

Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

The towering sea cliffs of Na Pali Coast with narrow valleys and countless cascading waterfalls is a hidden little paradise on our planet. I’ve already written an entire post about this hike that’s quite unique and famous – and our absolute favorite on Kauai! Read our post about it here.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

A path with views of turquoise bays, towering cliffs and lush green valleys, crystal clear streams, huge waterfalls… Every step of this hike is magical (and to be honest, probably muddy, too). Kalalau Trail 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 (to Hanakapi’ai Falls and back)
  • Difficulty: strenuous
  • Trailhead: Ke’e Beach

Nualolo Trail

Lolo Vista, Kauai, Hawaii

This hike on a narrow 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 ever! 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, it’s a moderate walk through the quiet tropical forest.

Hiking essentials
  • Length: 7.6 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Trailhead: 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
  • Trailhead: look for a sign indicating the trailhead along Route 550, then park at the pullout and start with a short nature trail which leads you to the Kukui Trailhead

Pihea & Alaka’i Swamp Trail to Kilohana Lookout

Pihea Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

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

The green valleys are full of hidden waterfalls, and hiking through the swamp was quite a unique experience – with barely any mosquitoes that was a nice surprise.

Kilohana Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii

It’s a moderately busy trail with lots of shade.

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

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


Best Day Hikes In Kauai

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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)


  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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