Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason! There are so many beautiful hikes on Kauai to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views.

Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.

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When my husband and I visited Kauai in June 2019, we wanted to make sure hiking was something we made time for. After a lot of research on my end, and help from The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed, we narrowed it down. Out of all the hikes we did, these four are the ones I would recommend putting on your must-do list.

*NOTE* Since we didn’t have our kids with us, we chose hikes that are more difficult. I’ve included age recommendations for each hike, but you will need to do your own research and use your best judgement to decide if they are ones your kids would enjoy doing (and you would enjoy taking them on). Additionally, directions for how to access each hike may change and while I try to provide accurate information, I suggest double checking my directions prior to setting out on your hike.

Pools of Mokolea

Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
  • Location: North Shore
  • Length of Hike: 1 mi round trip
  • Why You Should Go: The views are absolutely breathtaking! It is a really unique hike and you won’t see anything like it anywhere else on the island. We went in the morning shortly after sunrise and the sun coming up over the ocean was gorgeous. We only ran into a couple of people and had almost the entire area to ourselves. This is a shoreline hike and is not very difficult. (It was probably my favorite hike on Kauai.)
  • What to Know Before You Go: It’s not recommended to visit the Pools of Mokolea during the winter months (October-April) because the surf may be too high and dangerous. Low tide is best but use your best judgement. Also, expect to get wet, even if it’s only your feet. There are a lot of small pools as well as larger pools, but I wouldn’t recommend getting in any of the bigger ones because they are so close to the ocean that you could get sucked in. I would recommend this for ages 10 and up, but always use your best judgement.
  • Directions: From Kahili (Rock Quarry) Beach, cross Kilauea Stream and head to the right. The stream is usually shallow–don’t try and cross if it’s raging. You’ll see a road, but earlier portions are on private land so that’s why you have to start at Kahili Beach. According to The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed, you have to either go up and down next to a wire fence, or around–both ways ending on the lava bench. (We didn’t see a fence, but we followed the road and over the top of an area where a couple of people were setting up their fishing rods.) Be cautious as you walk through the tidepools, as waves are constantly coming up over the lava and can make things slippery. Continue walking and you’ll reach Mokolea Point which has more tide pools. You can see Kilauea Lighthouse from the end of the tide pools.
  • Remember to Bring:

Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls

Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
  • Location: Koke’e/Waimea Canyon
  • Length of Hike: 4 mi round trip
  • Why You Should Go: You will be able to see views of Waimea Canyon that aren’t accessible unless you hike or take a helicopter ride. The scenery is diverse and gives you another taste of Kauai’s unique beauty and landscape.
  • What to Know Before You Go: This is a moderately strenuous hike and will probably take you 2-3 hours. There is a lot of up and down along the trail. I would recommend this hike for ages 12 and up, but use your best judgement.
  • Directions: Drive up into Koke’e State Park/Waimea Canyon and park your car at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout (between the 13 and 14 mile markers) and walk to the back of the parking lot, through a clearing and to the trail to your left. (There was a sign pointing us in the direction of the Canyon Trail.) After you see some of the canyon views, you will come to the top of a ridge. Just past and below the ridge, you’ll come to an intersection, with a small falls to your left and bigger one to your right. The bigger falls are called Waipo’o Falls and plunge down 800 feet.
  • Remember to Bring:

Hanalei ‘Okolehana Trail

Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
  • Location: North Shore
  • Length of Hike: 4 mi round trip
  • Why You Should Go: You can see 1/5 of the island from the top of the plateau where the trail ends. The forest is beautiful and you’ll see many unique things along the way.
  • What to Know Before You Go: This is a really steep trail that gains 1,250 feet in less than 2 miles so it will feel like longer than 2 miles by the time you get to the top. My husband and I are in good shape and we still had to take breaks along the way to catch our breath, drink a lot of water and eat some snacks. If the trail is wet, which is likely, it can be very slippery. Netting has been laid on some of the steeper areas and walking on it will give you traction so you’re less likely to slip. I would recommend this hike for ages 12 and up, keeping in mind that it is fairly strenuous.
  • Directions: To get to the trailhead, drive past Princeville and turn left immediately after you cross the Hanalei Bridge at the bottom of the hill. At 7/10 mile from Hwy 560 is a parking lot on the left. The trailhead is on the opposite side at a small foot bridge. After about 500 feet you see an old road rising steeply to your left which is the direction you should go. 2/3 mile up, the road ends and you’ll see a huge power pole. Continue around the bend to the left and climb, climb, climb. The last little bit of the trail is steep enough that you’ll need to use the rope that has been secured next to the trail. When you reach the bench, you’ve reached the end of the trail. Take a seat, enjoy the view and rest for a bit before heading back down.
  • Remember to Bring:

Ho’opi’i Falls

Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
Hiking on Kauai is one of the most popular activities and for good reason!  There are so many beautiful hikes to choose from with varying lengths, difficulty and views. Find information on the Pools of Mokolea, Canyon Trail to Waipo'o Falls, Hanalei 'Okolehana Trail and Ho'opi'i Falls.
  • Location: East Shore
  • Length of Hike: 2 mi round trip
  • Why You Should Go: The scenery is, of course, beautiful. There is a swimming area at the base of the second set of falls with a rope swing that is a lot of fun. It is an easy hike and follows a well-defined trail.
  • What to Know Before You Go: The parking near the trailhead is limited and in a neighborhood so going earlier in the day is recommended so you can find a spot. There are two sets of falls so be sure to keep going after you see the first set. We saw a decent number of families with younger kids on the trail. I would recommend Ho’opi’i Falls trail for ages 6 and up, but as mentioned before, use your best judgement.
  • Directions: You’ll need to get on Kapahi Road. We just typed it into our phone’s GPS and got there easily. The trailhead is on the left as you come down Kapahi Road (speed limit is 15mph). Walk down the trail and when it comes to an intersection, go right. Head downstream and eventually there is a side path leading down to the first falls. You can either follow it down to the falls or continue on the trail which will move you inland a little away from the river. Just before the trail ends at the top of the second falls, a fork to the right goes up and hooks around, descending to the bottom.
  • Remember to Bring:

I hope this information about hikes on Kauai is helpful to you as you plan your visit to Kauai!

I also have a post about what to bring with you and what to buy on the island that is really informative (whether you’re hiking or not)! Definitely check it out to help you pack and plan most efficiently.

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9 Comments

  1. The first one looks so beautiful. I’ll make sure to do it if I’m ever around the area

  2. This is fantastic- we haven’t been to Hawaii but hope to go in the next couple of years. My husband prefers more active vacations so we are looking for things like hiking to do. I’m going to be saving this for future planning!

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