Hiking on Kauai: The Garden Isle’s 7 Best Hiking Trails

Kauai Hikes

Being nicknamed the “Garden Isle”, Kauai offers a selection of hiking trails that are available to hikers of all skill levels.

Prep your boots, and get ready to take some pictures of the accentuated details Kauai provides as this list will aid you in enjoying the 7 best hikes Kauai offers.   

1. Kuilau Ridge Trail

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is a rather beginner-friendly trail that does not hold back on the island’s greenery. You’ll start your journey by driving up to the parking lot at the Keahua Arboretum and be greeted right away by the beautiful Hawaiian rainforest. Throughout the trail, you’ll see various species of plants that are native to Kauai. Once you’ve reached the one-mile point, soak in the view with a picnic that overlooks the mountains. 

2. Awa’awapuhi Trail

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Hard

The Awa’awapuhi Trail is one of many trails based out of Kokee State Park. Don’t get tricked by the trails’ slow start, as it starts to pick up once you venture into the forest. The trail takes you through the rain forest and also high desert terrain, eventually leading you to Kaui’s Napali Coast, where you can enjoy breathtaking views. 

For any plant lovers, you can also pick up the Awa’awapuhi Botanical Trail Guide at the Kokee Museum that will pinpoint various marked plants throughout the trail for any plant lovers. Just be sure to be respectful of the plants. Look, don’t touch.

3. Nounou East Trail (Sleeping Giant)

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t panic, no actual giants will appear at the Nounou East Trail, as the trail gets its name from the ability to see the “giant’s” profile throughout the hike. This trail takes you through inner forests and provides various types of terrain to keep hikers on their toes. Near the end of the trail, you will be able to travel down three different paths, with one of them letting you enjoy a lunch on the giant’s chest. 

If luck is on your side you’ll be able to see Mt. Waialeale Crater, however most of the time the view is obstructed by clouds. 

4. Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail: Shipwreck Beach to Punahoa Point

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is another easier hike on our list and is located near Koloa. It welcomes hikers of all skill levels and lets them enjoy its coastal views The trail starts at Shipwreck Beach and takes you across the undeveloped coastline, the last stretch of all Koloa. 

You’ll be able to see marine life along the coast, including the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. As this is a sacred sanctuary, it’s asked to respect your surroundings and to tread lightly throughout the trail.  

5. Canyon Trail

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

waipoo falls
Via @tj.johnson29 on Instagram

The Canyon Trail is another trail in Kokee State Park and is rather popular thanks to its picturesque views and photo opportunities. The trail starts from Halemanu Road, then goes up the Canyon Trailhead, and eventually lands you at Waipo’o Falls, a beautiful reward for any hiker. With the trail boasting an 800-foot waterfall, it is a great chance for you to soak in the view and the water as you start making your trip back down.  

6. Nualolo Trail

Distance: 7 miles

Difficulty: Hard

If you’re looking for a full day of hiking, the Nualolo Trail is the starting point for the hiking loop that is connected with the Awa’awapuhi trail and the Nualolo Cliff Trail. If you’re looking for something quicker the Nualolo Trail can be completed individually as well. 

Located near Waimea, the Nualolo Trail is popular with hikers due to its adjacent trails and also features a waterfall that hikers can embrace. At the end of the trail, you will reach Lolo Vista Point and you will be greeted by a beautiful view. Note that if it has rained or if the soil is wet, you may want to skip that viewpoint as the soil becomes rather unstable.

7. Honopu Ridge Trail

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Hard

Being the most difficult trail on this list, the Honopu Ridge Trail may not be for everyone. The trail ranks high in difficulty due to its lack of trail maintenance. The trail was damaged back in 1982 and 1992 due to Hurricane Iniki and Iwa, which has now made it a rewarding, but rough trek. 

It’s recommended to wear long pants due to the shrubbery and bushes that are scattered throughout the trail. Keep an eye out as well for markers that are placed throughout the trail to help guide you. Throughout the trail, you’ll get a view overlooking Honopu Valley and the NaPali coastline, however, make sure you keep an eye on where you step as the edges are rather thin.  

We hope you enjoy your time hiking through Kauai, one of the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. If you’re hungry after your trek, try visiting one of the best restaurants in Kauai to refill your tank.