Best Day Hikes in Kauai: From Short to Intermediate Trails

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

There’s no better place to find your soul on the mystical and tropical island of Kauai. After Ni’ihau, Kauai is the geographically oldest island within Hawaii, so if you want to experience the true history of what ancient Hawaii would have looked like Kauai is your best bet. 

As the rainforest is home to many bugs as well as some dangerous weather, day hikes in Kauai are often the best for those who want to see the island while still enjoying its other cultural interests.

Let’s explore the island and its trails together!

Awaawapuhi Trail – Intermediate

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

This trail is one of the favored day hikes on the west side of the island. As we know, the west side is the best side.

The hike takes place mostly within Koke’e State Park and is around 6.2 miles there and back, taking most hikers around four hours.

If you enjoy dramatic cliff sides and potentially perilous falls, then the Awaawapuhi Trail could be the highlight of your trip.

The cliff sides remain positively martian but are starkly contrasted by the lush foliage that surrounds the mountainside and the marine dream of deep blue water as you look West back to home.

Honopu Ridge Trail – Intermediate To Hard

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

This is another trail on the west side of the island that is a little more foliage than cliff side, but is still a good balance of both.

For those who enjoy a little more green, be a little careful in the summer as the foliage can be dense and a little scratchy if you aren’t careful. Wear a long sleeve top, or just go in the winter!

Much like Awa’awapuhi there is a good balance of marine views, lush rainforest, as well as barren cliffsides. The view of Na Pali is particularly beautiful and is a great reward for a 5-mile out and back hike.

This can take 4 – 5 hours so is for the hikers who want a test.

Nualolo Cliff Trail – Intermediate

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

If you want a trail that covers a good amount of distance but isn’t a particularly hard gradient, then the Nualolo cliff trail is worth considering.

For some stunning red sand trails leading you around the mountainous west side of Kauai this trail delivers.

Although, this isn’t all to see as the trail dips in and out of some jungle dense sections that are also beautiful.

While the trail covers an impressive 7.6-mile-walk, this isn’t anything to shy away from as the trail is mainly flat and covers some small gradients so is easily achievable for many.

As the trail remains pretty flat the trail can take around 4 to 5 hours. The view from the cliff side is truly worthwhile to see at the end.

Waipo’o Falls Trail – Intermediate

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

If the gushing beauty of a waterfall is what you are looking for then the Waipo’o Falls trail is the one for you.

It’s certainly not long enough to take up the whole day but the sights you will be subject to will definitely form the highlight of your day.

The trail essentially leads you to the top of Waipo’o waterfalls, you pass one of its sources as well as some other small waterfalls located on the mountain side.

Beyond the waterfalls, you can catch some amazing views of Waimea Canyon which really set the island of Kauai apart from islands like Oahu – you won’t get these views.

The trail is a 3.6 mile out and back trail but it only takes around 2 hours as most of the track is pretty flat but the few climbs on the cliffside can be quite steep for the short time they last. 

Kalepa Ridge Trail – Easy

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

This short walk remains one of the most walked and enjoyed within Kauai and is another epic cliff side walk to enjoy on the island.

From Kalepa Ridge you can see straight down into the aquatic ‘Cathedral’, this is a great viewing point if you didn’t take the dip to see them yourself, as well as the famed Na Pali Coastline. 

There are some of the most stunning views of the coast from these viewpoints on the ridge and if you catch the sun going down you will truly be awestruck by its beauty.

The 1.9 mile out and back trail is pretty short but the incline is around 200 m and some parts can be a little shaky and crumbly 

Hanakapiai Fall Trail – Easy

Best Day Hikes In Kauai

This is another easy but rewarding trail that is on the north side of the island. Again, this trail is one where you will see the waterfalls of your dreams. 

The 300 ft+ waterfall is within the rainforest jungle and is truly an enchanting sight, especially for a westerner.

There is a surprising amount of varying geography on this trail, from the jungle to the falls, to the red rocks themselves.  

Moreover, if you don’t fancy doing the whole trail which is only 11 miles out and back, taking around four hours, there are other stopping points on the trail.

Some chose to walk only to the beach, relaxing there for a little bit, before walking back where they came. This makes the walk around 4-5 miles and half the time.

Final Thoughts

The islands of Hawaii are truly beautiful and Kauai is potentially the most beautiful and also ancient of all of them.

There is a surprisingly varied geography on the island that can switch from red sand, to arid cliffsides, to beaches, to jungle and then to rainforest. 

Many love to walk around the island, and while there are some much  longer expeditions you can embark on, provided you have the right equipment.

Yet, the day hikes are certainly rewarding and allow you to relax in the evening and soak up some more culture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog