Best Hikes in Kauai


With at least 75 hiking trails crisscrossing the island, Kauai makes it easy to experience the outdoors. Whether it be the crashing surf and wildlife of the ocean beaches, high-mountain open views, or the tight press of the jungle’s vivid flora, you can’t go wrong. But just to narrow it down a bit, here are a few of the best hikes on Kauai.

Nualolo Trail

For a longer day taking time to enjoy the scenery, or a speedy half-day of walking, this 7.5-mile out-and-back takes you up over 2,500 feet in elevation along canyon ridgelines. Expect big payoffs in ocean views framed by red rock walls if you take on this challenging hike. Slippery conditions could be dangerous after heavy rainfall, so keep the weather in mind when you plan your walk.

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Kalalau Trail

Named one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, hikes in the country, the 11-mile Kalalau Trail runs along the Nāpali Coast from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach. If you want to hike this route up cliff and down beach on the only land access to this remote state wilderness, it pays to plan ahead. Permits are required to camp, or to pass beyond Hanakapi’ai Falls, even if you don’t plan on camping. But you could still hike the two miles to the falls there if you wanted a day hike to remember. Just be sure to snag your advance reservation to enter Hā’ena State Park to access the trailhead.

Queen’s Bath Trail

For a moderate, short .8-mile jaunt through jungle to the coastline, check out the Queen’s Bath Trail near Princeville. A sinkhole formed in the rock creates a unique tidal pool where royals would enjoy a relaxing bath, depending on the tide and surf. Wet trail tread can make even this short walk treacherous, so be sure to dress for the conditions. This is a summer hike, since winter high surf can make the rocky shoreline dangerous. Be sure to read posted notices when you arrive, and respect area closures—they’re for your safety. The trail is closed during high surf warnings.

Awa'awapuhi Trail

Views are the name of the game with this 6-mile, out-and-back trail. The path descends from 4,120 feet in elevation to the rim of Nualolo Valley at 2,500 feet, taking a shaded path through diverse dryland flora and fauna. Don’t forget that the mild downhill path becomes an uphill trek as you return from the viewpoint, and the trail will likely be muddy after rains.

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Canyon Trail

Also found inside Kōkeʻe State Park, the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls gives you a serene stroll through nature. Though it won’t offer up wide-angle views of the 800-foot falls, this 3-mile, out-and-back hike gives some peace and a unique view along the edge of Waimea Canyon as you power up the 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Remember to make a stop along the highway viewpoints to see the full splendor of the tumbling water.

When your treks wind down for the day, show your appreciation for the splendor of Kauai with a stay at an eco-conscious Highline Adventures property. Find your space, and get in touch with nature.