Awaawapuhi Trail has incredible drop-offs and epic views down to the Na Pali Coast. It only takes about an hour and a half each way along the total 6.2 miles out and back journey. If you only have time for one hike on the west side of Kauai, this is your trail.
Heading down the Awaawapuhi Trail might give you some false confidence about how easy the hike will be. The soft sloping trail is easy to descend into, though the rough roots sticking from the mud path can be quite tricky to navigate. Returning on the path is much more strenuous, as you will be climbing back out from the viewpoint.
Most people stop at the viewpoint overlook, but it is possible to venture down the ridge although this can be quite dangerous. The rocks can be very crumbly and no step is certain on the ridges out in Koke’e State Park.
Awaawapuhi Trail Head Location
Awaawapuhi Trail is one of the more popular hikes in the Koke’e Park and subsequently has a large, signposted parking lot. It is before the Kalalau lookout but still takes well over 30 minutes to reach from Waimea Town. The trailhead is on the left of the parking lot.
Kelapa Ridge Trail
The Kalepa Ridge Trail is an unofficial trail that leads downhill from Kalalau Lookout in Koke’e State Park, along the ridge line between Kalalau Valley and Honopu. Although there are “steep cliff” signs, it’s easy to walk right behind the fence at Kalalau Lookout and trek down to the lookout. This hike was by far my favorite trail!
Since it’s an unofficial trail there is also no official length. Many people hike down a little more than a mile down the trial to see the incredible, panoramic views of the Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Valley. The whole hike took about 1.5 hours round trip including a lunch break on the lookout, and I believe it was a little less than 2 miles round trip.
Makaleha Falls Hike
If you’re feeling extra adventurous on your trip to Kauai and want to do an excellent hike, then consider the Makaleha Falls hike in east Kauai. The trail meanders along the stream through lush vegetation as you head towards the falls. After the first river crossing, you will come into a bamboo forest. Following the jungle-gym type pathway up the side of the river (be careful to stay close to the banks, as its easy to get lost here), you come upon an epic waterfall with 2 pools to swim in!
Wailua Falls Hike
From the viewpoint the waterfall is spectacular but the Wailua Falls hike allows you to follow the trail down to the bottom pool and enjoy the raw power of this waterfall from up close.
The Wailua Falls hike is only a short trek down a slope, which is often quite slippery and muddy. Despite the short distance, this is a waterfall hike for able-bodied, fit people. This is due to the steep incline and muddy terrain. I hiked while the trail was dry, and had no issues with footing, but I can see this trail being dangerous if the path is just a little wet! Trek with caution
Sleeping Giant Hike
Climbing the sleeping giant! Native Hawaiian legend tells about a giant who, after great labor and overeating, lay to rest and has yet to be awaken. Myth states that when the natives feared being attacked, they would light fires behind the giant thus frightening the invaders away towards other islands.
This hike shows off the beauty of the island with sweeping panoramic views from the center of the east side. The Sleeping Giant trail, also called Nounou Trail, has three different routes in your attempt to awake the giant. You can take either the east route (most scenic), west route, or the Kuamoo-Mounou route. (We took the east!)
About 3 miles up, you will reach a picnic table where you can see the entire Wailua Valley from Anatolia to Lihue’. This area is known as the “Giant’s Chest” and marks the half way point of the hike. It’s beyond this sign when you’ll begin your adventure hiking over the Giant’s chin and nose.
Past the chin there is a steep trail that will lead you to the nose of the Giant. Once on top, you will be greatly rewarded with a 360 degree view of Kauai! Look towards Mount Waialeale and on a clear day you can see multiple waterfalls flowing. The view is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Waipoo falls, or the canyon trail, is a moderate hike has a lookout at the beginning of the trail where you can see the falls and get great photos.
Waipoo falls is broken into two parts. In the beginning, it has a short fall. It then flows down a steep terrain for some distance before the final plunge that forms the main drop.
This slow turgid waterfall can either be viewed from one of the lookouts along the Waimea Canyon road or can be experienced more closely by hiking the trail all the way to the top.
Hanakapiai Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes on Kauai. It leads you to the first part of the Kalalau towards Hanakpia’i Beach before heading along the stream towards the booming 300ft+ Hankapiai Waterfall in the depths of the jungle. The Hanakpiai Falls Trail is 4 miles in and 4 miles out. However, many hikers stop at the beach and turn back, opting to hike only to the beach and not the falls. This makes the journey only 2 miles in and 2 miles out.
Unfortunately it was closed this time around, as there were multiple mudslides across the north shore, on top of a terrible flood in April 2018.
This hike should be open July 2019.
Kapa’a Bike Trail
Ke Ala Hele Makalae or “the path that goes by the coast” describes the scenic multi-use path that runs along the beautiful east side of Kauai and will eventually follow the Kauai east coast from Nawiliwili to Anahola. The Kauai bike path offers breathtaking ocean and coastline views starting in South Kapaa and winding North past downtown up to Kealia Beach.
The bike path meanders along the ocean for several miles. Cruise along with great views of the Pacific, see whales breaching and spouting late fall and during winter. We biked up to the north until the path ended, then hiked to a private beach for snorkeling! (Donkey beach)
The Kukui Trail is is found at the beginning of the Iliau Nature Loop Trail in the Waimea Canyon As you follow along the first mile you will be treated to two amazing opportunities for photos, each with a bench to rest your feet. Across the canyon you will be able to see sweeping views of several waterfalls. Waialae Falls is the dominant waterfall that cascades to the valley floor.
The 5 mile hike is a bit disorienting. Make sure you bring lots of water and snacks for you trek.
Secrets Beach Trail
High cliff walls, long stretches of sand, and a view of the Kilauea lighthouse make this beach one of Kauai’s treasures. A 15 minute hike gets you to the beach. This isn’t much of a trail, but more of a beach walk that shows off gorgeous cliffs, cerulean waters and a long stretch of sand with practically no visitors.
The Okolehao Trail on the North Shore of Kauai is a 2.5 mile trail that will give you a workout as you climb to 1,250 foot elevation. The trek is well worth it and you will be rewarded with captivating views of Hanalei Bay, verdant Hanalei Valley, Makana, Kilauea Lighthouse and the Napali Coast.
As you are driving north into Princeville, look off to the left and you will notice a mountain that has at its top a shape much like a shark’s tooth. That is Hihimanu.
Okolehao Trail is a moderate trail but the weather really determines how difficult it will be to hike. If the north shore has experienced a lot of rain the trail will be much more difficult because of the mud. In this case a walking stick is a must.
Uluwehi Falls, located in the lush Wailua River Basin, is often referred to as Secret Falls; however, thanks to its easy access and stunning beauty there isn’t even a modicum of “secret” left here. That said, Uluwehi Falls deserves a stop on your Kauai must-see waterfalls list.
In order to access the falls, you must kayak up the river and then hike in, crossing streams and meandering over boulders. It was full of tourists on groups while I was there, but I would do this trip over again if I could! The kayak ride leads you to a cliff-jump spot. You paddle through a small cutlet up dense foliage and enter the hiking path along the banks.
Total time: roughly 3 hours round trip.
More Kauai Blog Posts
I spent almost a month exploring the island of Kauai. In particular, I was hiking all of the trails, snorkeling and surfing every break I could find.
The Ultimate (Vegan) Guide to Kauai: What to do, see, eat, and where to stay