Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is renowned for its lush green landscapes and tropical foliage. It’s also one of the wettest of the Hawaiian Island chain. The natural wonders are plentiful — from the rain forest of Kokee, to the magnificent valleys of the Napali Coast — there is much to explore. Here are a few of the most popular hikes.
Photo: HTA/Tor Johnson
KAUAI NORTH SHORE
Level: Strenuous — 22 miles
This is one of the most challenging hikes on Kauai. It’s the same path taken by the ancient Hawaiians who lived in the Kalalau Valley to journey to the Na Pali Coast. Hiking Kalalau requires planning by making reservations to camp in Na Pali Coast State Park. It is also important to be in good condition for the adventure.
Level: Easy to moderate — 3.6 miles
This is a great hike to be introduced to the many plant species on Kauai. You will experience grassy fields, Ohia forests and sweeping views of the Mount Waialeale and the Makaleha Mountain Range. It can be wet and slippery, so wear shoes with good traction and be prepared.
MAHAULEPU BEACH TRAIL
Level: Easy — 5.9 miles
From the southeast corner of Shipwreck Beach find the trail that will take you along sand dune cliffs, limestone formations, Kiawe trees and rocky inlets where you can look for sea turtles. The beach is also a popular vantage point for whale watching. Mahaulepu Beach is a sacred sanctuary that must be preserved and respected.
Level: Moderate — 5 miles
On this hike you will be surrounded by lush landscape and enjoy ocean and mountain views. It’s a very popular area and you will also share the trail with runners, horse-back riders and mountain bikers. Dogs are allowed if on a leash.
Level: Strenuous — 5.5 miles
On the North Shore of Kauai, this hike will give you an uphill workout. The climb is worth the effort when you reach the top with magnificent views of Hanalei Bay, Hanalei Valley, Kilauea Lighthouse and the Na Pali Coast. This hike has it all: a strenuous workout, lush foliage and priceless views. Mosquito repellent will make the trip more enjoyable.
CANYON TRAIL TO WAIPOO FALLS
Level: Easy to moderate — 3 miles
This hike will give you a variety of scenery, from a ginger lined stream to mountain views laden with interesting rock formations and the awe-inspiring Waipoo Falls, an 800-foot cascading waterfall. It’s also great for birdwatching. You may even find a swimming hole to cool off your feet.