Are you planning a trip to Kauai and love hiking? Then this list of the best easy hikes in Kauai is for you. Start planning your Kauai Hiking Adventures now!
One of the reasons why I love Hawaii so much is that the islands are so damn hike-able. With incredible scenery, an abundance of hiking trails that never seem to get too busy, and temperatures that rarely get insanely hot, Hawaii really is a hiker’s paradise.
And the Kauai hiking adventures I embarked on proved to be an absolute highlight of my time on the Garden Island. And there are so many easy hikes in Kauai to choose from.
Visiting the island of Kauai for the first time last year I was really excited to try out some Kauai hikes, especially as it is known to be the greenest island.
During my eight days on Kauai, I managed to fit in five hikes, all of which were wonderful, and with each Kauai hiking trail offering different scenery.
Hitting the Kauai hiking trails was a great way to see the natural beauty of the Garden Island and to appreciate how diverse the scenery actually is.
I still didn’t get to do all the hikes in Kauai though, and the one I want to do the most next time is the Kalepa Ridge hike with Na Pali Coast views.
Read on for my Kauai Hiking Guide.
Traveling to Oahu too? Check out this post for the best Oahu Hikes
The Best Easy Hikes Kauai
Kauai Coastal Path: Kapa’a to Pineapple Dump
Distance: 5 miles/8km return
Location: Start and end at Kapa’a Beach Park and just follow the pathway around the coast to the north.
I started off with one of the most accessible easy hikes in Kauai, the Kauai Coastal Path. This Kauai hike consists of a flat footpath which takes you the entire way around the coast from the town of Kapa’a to Pineapple Dump.
There are some beautiful coastal views along the way with waves crashing onto the black rocks below the path. Soon the gorgeous golden sands of Kealia beach, the nicest on the Central Coast, will come into view.
It is definitely worth stopping here for a swim, I found it much nicer than Kapa’a beach park with calmer and clearer water, although it has been known for the waves to get quite rough too.
Another mile past Kealia beach is Pineapple Dump. This is where the pineapple cutoffs leftover from the canning process were dumped into the ocean back when the Hawaiian Pineapple Canning Company was in business.
There is not much to see there now, just a ruined concrete structure jutting out to sea, but if you feel like walking further than Kealia then it’s a good turnaround point.
You can also bike this path.
Wai Koa Loop Walk
Distance: 4.2 miles/6.8km loop trail
Location: On the Kuhio highway just north from the turnoff to Kilauea, at Anaina Hou Community Park. Note: You must stop in at Anaina Hou Welcome Center to sign a waiver because this trail is on private property.
Another of the super easy hikes in Kauai that are flat the whole way, the Wai Koa loop walk takes you through varied landscapes, including the United State’s largest Mahogany forest, lush meadows, peaceful ponds, and via a historic stone dam surrounded by dozens of guava trees (the small red ones are the best).
The setting is very peaceful and although it wasn’t the most scenic Kauai hike I did, it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours getting some exercise.
Kuilau Ridge Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles/5.8 km return
Location: Off Highway 580 up past the rural neighborhoods of Wailua and into the forested park area of Keahua. You will see the start of the trail just before the parking area on the right.
The Kuilau Ridge trail is a great trail to truly experience how incredibly green and lush Kauai is. The pathway leads through an overgrown jungle with towering trees covered in vines.
Hundreds of guavas cover the trail and you can feast on them to your heart’s content (believe me, I did).
At the one mile point, the trail opens out into a grassy clearing with fantastic views of the Makaleha Mountains and the lush valley below.
From there the trail follows more of a ridgeline with sweeping valley views for another 1.25 miles before you reach a footbridge that continues on to connect with the Moalepe Trail.
Be sure to check out the viewpoint over one of the most beautiful Kauai Waterfalls, Opaeka’a Falls, on the drive out to the start of the trail.
Waimea Canyon Trail and Black Pipe Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles/6km loop trail
Location: There is a car park at the trailhead located on Highway 550 between mile markers 14 and 15. Look for a dirt road and a small gravel/dirt parking area.
If you decide to do any Kauai hiking adventures, you can’t miss doing one of the fabulous hikes around Waimea Canyon, ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, and one of the most famous Kauai attractions.
Amelie and I decided rather than do the Canyon trail at Waimea Canyon as a return, we would add on the Black Pipe trail to make it a loop so we didn’t have to do much backtracking.
The hike started off past fragrant wild ginger plants then began descending down through the forest to the Canyon rim. We picked wild guavas along the way (they really are everywhere on Kauai).
Soon we started catching glimpses of the canyon before the trail opened up to the canyon rim. It was a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the canyon in all its glory. And what a beautiful sight it was.
After multiple photos, we walked a bit further to a hidden waterfall, then backtracked to where the Black Pipe trail intersects with the Canyon trail (it is signposted).
This is where the adventure really began.
The trail was overgrown in places and we didn’t see another person. We were starting to wonder if perhaps we should have stayed on the main trail.
After hiking along a narrow ridge then up gradual switchbacks through the forest, we then reached a road and were faced with a decision: left or right.
We guessed right as it looked like that trail headed upwards and we knew we needed to go back uphill to reach the car park. We were wrong.
After walking for maybe 15 minutes and with the trail now heading downhill, we started second-guessing ourselves but we couldn’t decide if we should turn back or not.
Luckily we came across a bunch of local guys that were doing earthmoving works in the forest and they set us back on the right track.
We had needed to take the left turn, then at the next crossroads, we needed to turn left again. Soon we were back passing the wild ginger and we knew we were nearly back.
The plus side of getting lost was that we found a wild passionfruit vine, one of my favorite fruits, and we ate as many of them as we could then took loads more for the road.
So it all turned out OK in the end, and it was one of my top easy hikes in Kauai because of the great memories.
Use the Alltrails GPS map for the hike so you don’t get lost like we did!
Distance: 8 miles/13km return
Location: The trail starts at the end of the road past Ke’e beach on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. Parking fills up pretty fast and it’s a popular trail so get there early. NOTE: You now have to have an advance reservation to access Hāʻena State Park at the beginning of the trail, which you can book online.
OK, so this hike isn’t exactly easy but I just had to add it because it was so amazing.
To make it easy, just do the first two miles following the Kalalau trail to the turnoff for the waterfall, then hike back the way you came. It is still totally worth doing this section and you will be rewarded with awesome coastal views.
But if you are up for something a bit more challenging, I recommend hiking all the way to did stunning Hanakapi’ai Falls. This hike is known as one of the best waterfall hikes in Kauai, and it definitely didn’t disappoint,
The first two miles were beautiful as we hugged the dramatic Na Pali coast, rising up and down along the sometimes muddy path while the turquoise waves crashed below us.
We were rewarded with views over Ke’e beach at the beginning of the trail then Hanakapi’ai beach at the two-mile mark.
From Hanakapi’ai beach the trail led inland and that’s where it became A LOT more difficult.
Suddenly we were knee-deep in mud and with roots also tangled through the path; we really had to watch every step we took. There were also numerous river crossings, some where we were thigh deep in the freezing cold water.
It was certainly the craziest of my Kauai hiking adventures!
Finally seeing the glorious Hanakapi’ai Falls, one of the most impressive Kauai waterfalls, was all worth it. A cold wind was blowing off the powerful falls so, despite me and my friend Venessa trying to swim, it was simply too cold so we headed back downstream to a calmer spot on the river that was drenched in afternoon sun for a quick dip.
And then it was time to head back the way we came.
What a hike – definitely one of the best hikes in Kauai. Our bodies were certainly sore the next day.
My Kauai hiking adventures turned out to be a highlight of my time on the island and I definitely feel like I got to truly experience the natural scenery on offer.
But then, hiking is always good for that. Hiking in Kauai definitely made me want to hike more of the islands – I have heard the hiking on Oahu is pretty awesome too.
I hiked along the stunning Kauai coastline, through jungle and forests, past a world-famous canyon, and to one of the best waterfalls in Kauai. And I loved it all.
For a small island, Kauai certainly packs a punch, and I hope to return one day to explore more easy hikes in Kauai – and some harder ones too.
Have you done any easy hikes in Kauai? Have you got any more Kauai hiking trails to add to my list or any other suggestions of what to do in Kauai?
Plan Your Kauai Trip
Where to Stay in Kauai
If you are looking for budget accommodation, camping is the cheapest option, although you will need all your own gear. There are various state campgrounds around the island that you can book online, including a number right on the beach.
If camping is not your style, then stay at the friendly Honu’ea Hostel, centrally located in Kapa’a. I stayed in a dorm here and it is a great place to meet fellow travelers.
The hostel is located within walking distance to the beach and the shops and restaurants in cute Kapa’a. They have a communal kitchen and there are private rooms available too.
For a solid mid-range option, stay at the ISO in Kapa’a, which has oceanfront rooms and a beautiful pool.
To really treat yourself, stay in an apartment at the Wyndham Bali Hai in the resort town of Princeville. This beautiful resort has a lagoon-style pool and is close to one of the best beaches in Kauai, Hanalei.
There are also numerous Airbnb properties located throughout the island, I recommend staying in Hanalei if you can swing it.
Getting Around on Kauai
The best way to get around Kauai is to rent a car, even if you plan to rent one for just part of your stay.
There is a bus network on Kauai but they aren’t particularly frequent or reliable, although I caught one from the airport to Kapa’a quite easily. You can find the bus routes and schedules online.
If you are just relying on buses to get around, I recommend staying in Kapa’a, which is centrally located, has a number of shops and restaurants, and a walking path between a couple of different beaches.
What to Pack for Your Kauai Hikes
For day hikes, the Cotopaxi Luzon is an awesome backpack choice and is lightweight and will pack down easily when you’re not using it.
I highly recommend taking a GRAYL Geopress Water Purifier to filter water from the river, this saves you having to carry a lot of water and is better for the environment. Pack a CamelBak to make it easier to hydrate while you are hiking and to store more water if needed.
Take some trekking poles to help with the downhill – your knees will thank you! Also, pack a raincoat in case it rains, and if you are hiking in winter and are starting early, wear a lightweight but cozy thermal underlayer top.
The Best Insurance for Your Kauai Trip
If you are traveling from outside of the US, make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with – it auto-renews every month unless you turn it off so you don’t have to think about it on longer trips
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, check out some of my other Hawaii content:
- The Ultimate Big Island 7 Day Itinerary
- One Week in Kauai: Impressions of the Garden Island: Kauai
- How to Escape the Crowds in Waikiki
- Chilling out on the North Shore, Oahu
- Swimming with Dolphins on the Big Island of Hawaii, for FREE!