Best Hikes in Kauai - Waterfall on a backpacking trail in Kauai Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Islands offer many natural beauties that most people have never witnessed — especially when you are able to witness them from some of the best hiking trails in Kauai. 

With backpacking trails leading to waterfalls, canyon overlooks, and wilderness jungles, it’s easy to say something new lies around every corner to be discovered.

The island of Kauai, located in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, is the Northernmost of the many chains of islands that make up the state of Hawaii and, indeed, the oldest. 

Whether it be the Na Pali Coastline, Waimea Canyon, or Poi Pu Beach, Kauai is one of the most beautiful and underdeveloped islands of Hawaii and is nicknamed the Garden Isle with good reason.

With over 40 hiking trails, it’s hard to deny that there’s an abundance of natural beauty to be discovered while hiking in Kauai. These trails span across every major area on the island, making it a top destination for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. If you’re seeking a place to explore in Hawaii, look no further than the stunning hiking trails of Kauai.

Read on to explore some of the best hiking trails on the island and, arguably, in the entire Hawaiian islands!

hiking trails in kauai

1. Nounou Mountain Trail and the Sleeping Giant

The Nounou Mountain Trails leading up to the Sleeping Giant are rated for the hardy family, so they require a fair amount of effort to reach your final destination and can vary anywhere between 1.5 to 2 miles.  

It will take you approximately an hour to an hour and a half of hiking time to reach the summit, which stands at the nose of the Sleeping Giant, some 960 feet up.  

For a successful hike on Kauai’s east side, bring rain gear, hiking boots, a camera, food, and water. During the right season, enjoy stunning views and organic strawberry guavas for a tasty snack.

2. Backpacking Moloaa Beach Trail

It is rated for its unique views and handy features. With plenty to do for any beach lover, you can swim, surf, snorkel, go shelling, beachcombing, fishing, and even find fruit while hiking up to the beautiful views that overlook one of the most secluded beaches on the island.  

Mango trees border Moloaa Road, offering a chance to savor fresh Hawaiian fruit. Beware, though, as locals advise against carrying pork at night due to the legend of Kamapuaa, a pig-like demigod believed to dwell in the valley. The trail is family-friendly, so pack up and hike to this scenic spot!

hiking trails in kauai

3. The Powerline Trail

Kauai’s Kapakanui Falls trail is a magnet for hikers due to its stunning scenery, diverse plant and animal life, fresh fruit, and two breathtaking views of the world-renowned falls.

This challenging 13-mile hike ascends over 2,000 feet, typically taking 6-8 hours for an average hiker. Start from Kapaka Street after turning off Route 56, heading south on an abandoned powerline trail towards Moloaa Forest Reserve.

This area offers feral goats and pigs, an abandoned shack, seasonal waterfalls, and a stunning view of Mt. Waialeale, the world’s wettest spot, and the beginning of the Hanalei River.

Near the end of your hike, you’ll reach the Lihue trailhead, from which you can take a short 0.2-mile hike to the Keahua Forestry Arboretum for a refreshing swim after a challenging day on the trail.

4.  Kokee State Park Trails

It was my closest pick for top trails in Kauai, Hawaii, because it features almost all of the best areas of Hawaii, showing you everywhere from the driest of hikes down Waimea Canyon to the downright sobbing wet ones along the Kawaikoi Stream Trail.  

Kokee State Park, adjacent to Waimea Canyon, offers a rich blend of seasonal fruits, wildlife, flora, fauna, waterfalls, swimming spots, and scenic vistas. With over 27 miles of hiking trails and options for camping or staying in cabins, it’s the perfect vacation destination.  

Explore scenic trails offering breathtaking views of Waimea Canyon, Alakai Swamp, Kalalau Valley, and Wai ale ale, the world’s wettest spot, among other stunning sights. Enjoy the melodies of tropical birds in these natural settings.

hiking trails in kauai

5.  Kalalau Trail & The Na Pali Coast

Get ready for one of the best hikes in Kauai, Hawaii! This two-day adventure covers over 11 miles and is not recommended for novice hikers. You’ll navigate steep valleys, walk a narrow path 300 feet above the ground, and marvel at your achievement.

Despite its danger, the Kalalau Trail is an exhilarating hike that leaves a lasting mark on those who attempt it, often leading to a life-changing experience.

With plenty of features such as camping areas, coastal views, seasonal fruits, waterfalls, historical sites, and exotic flora & fauna, Hawaii has outdone itself in creating another work of art.  

Only accessible by foot or boat (just like the hikes in Northern Laos), this trail is one of the best hikes in Kauai, Hawaii, leading you to the renowned Na Pali Coastline, where you can obtain a permit to camp by the crashing surf and enjoy pure, blissful serenity under the stars.

During the day, the coastal breeze keeps the temperature comfortable. At night, a hammock and a light sleeping bag are all you need for a peaceful sleep.

Final Thoughts

Ready to embark on an adventure? Discover the beauty of the hiking trails in Kauai, Hawaii, and share it with us!