The garden isle is known for its natural beauty and scenic landscapes. With more than 90% of the island inaccessible by road, we believe there is no better way to see the island than exploring it on foot. That’s why we composed our top five favorite hikes to visit while on Kauai.
Fun State and National Park Fact: 90% of the 1,000 species found in Hawaii’s parks are found nowhere else on earth!
This breathtaking trail is not for the faint of heart. It is strenuous but worth every step. From panoramic ocean views to exhilarating waterfalls, this trail will give you a true sense of the beauty of the garden isle. Note, the falls are much fuller and energetic in the winter months.
On the north shore of the island, this hike is known for its “bath” area with ocean views making it a photographer’s dream. In 1983, Kilauea Volcano erupted and in 1987 the original site was destroyed by lava flow. Only after the original site on the Big Island of Hawaii was destroyed did the location on Kauai become better known as "Queen's Bath." This tidal pool was used for what it sounds like; it was a royal bathing place. It was also used as a place of relaxation when an Alii, a chief or noble, needed to "wash off the stress." NOTE: The site can be very dangerous and all signs must be adhered to.
One of the most challenging hikes on the island, this trail is full of muddy paths, rushing rivers, and thin walkways, but the views make the effort worthwhile. The falls and the landscape provide a true essence of Kauai and its natural beauty. This is for experienced hikers that want to hike a once-in-a-lifetime trail.
Near Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, this hidden trail not only provides a peaceful hike but also a history lesson. At the end of this easy, short hike is a cave that is an excavation site for the ancient Hawaiian tribes. On some days you can find paleontologists excavating and they are typically very willing to talk about their findings and the cave’s history.
Known as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii, the various trails of Waimea provide different experiences of their own. The trail is difficult, but you will feel like you have ben transported to a different planet. Luckily, our favorite part is easy to visit. Right off the highway you can see and take photos of the infamous red dirt waterfall (pictured above). Be sure you bring good hiking boots on this hike as there are many slippery and steep areas.
SOME HIKING TIPS FROM KAUAI.COM
- Hiking Plan - Always tell someone where you are hiking (name and location of trail) you plan to hike and when you plan on returning.
- Water - Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. Make sure if you are drinking water from any streams or fresh water sources you purify your water with a purifier that is certified to filter microbial leptospirosis or giardia (not all do).
- Food - Carry high-energy, salty snacks as well as meals. The hike out is much easier when you provide your body with enough calories to support the extreme physical activity you are engaged in.
- Weather - Check the weather before you set off on your hike.
- First Aid - It is important to know that cuts in tropical climates should be monitored closely. Do not expose open wounds or cuts to river water.
- Proper Footwear - There are a variety of footwear options to choose from. The best advice is to wear what is comfortable for you. Do not break in new shoes along a hiking trail.
- Clothing - Dress in layers so you can protect your skin from the tropical sun. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen is recommended. A light rain jacket is also recommended.
*NOTE: Advance reservations are now required for all visitors (except state of Hawaiʻi residents). Please see the state park website for reservations and information https://www.gohaena.com/. Please review all restrictions and closures prior to setting out on any hikes.