Kauai: The Best Hawaiian Island For Hiking

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Advisor - Brianna Seaberg
Curated By

Brianna Seaberg

  • Kaua'i

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Hiking

  • Coastal

  • Sightseeing

Beach in kauai
Curator’s statement

Are you an avid hiker that isn't sure which Hawaiian island to plan a trip to? Kauai is the place to be and I couldn't recommend it more for any nature lovers out there! Kauai is basically a giant rainforest, which so many corners of the island to explore, and hundreds of hikes to do as well! Kauai is also a more relaxed island compared to other islands and the scenery looks straight out of a movie!

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Where to stay in Kauai

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Things to do in Kauai

Hike in Kauai

Best hikes to do on Kauai

Hike the first portion of the Kalalau Trail to the beach where you will see amazing views and it will easily become one of your favorite hikes. This hike is rated as moderate and according to my Fitbit, was 6 miles long roundtrip.

Hike to Hanakapaii Falls (the tallest waterfall in Kauai… and the best one I have ever seen) - you need the same permit/reservation for this hike as the one above, which I will link again here. Also disclaimer, this is a difficult hike where you have to cross multiple rivers and climb rocks, so make sure you are prepared. It’s around 11 miles roundtrip total as well, so bring lots of water, food, and shoes that can get wet.

Explore the scenic viewpoints and do the Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls hike at Waimea Canyon (which is called the Grand Canyon of the pacific). This is a beautiful hike where you get to hike to the top of a waterfall that goes into the canyon. If you have time after your hike and are hungry, grab food at the historic Kōkeʻe Lodge which is a really cool spot that transports you out of Hawaii.

Best nature activities:

Do a Na Pali Coast boat tour with Captain Andy’s (this is weather dependent, but if you go in the summer months you have a much better chance of being able to go out). I highly recommend the Catamaran tour for a smoother ride, but if you are up to the adventure, book a raft tour with Captain Andy’s!

Do an ATV tour with Kipu Ranch Adventures. I specifically did the Triple Trail Expedition and it was wonderful. The waterfall at the end was gorgeous too!

Visit Poipu Beach (to see the turtles and sometimes seals on the beach). Pro tip- near sunset is a great time to get a chance to see the turtles laying on the beach.

Do a kayak and hike tour on the Wailua River to Secret Falls with Kayak Wailua. This was such a wonderful activity and took about 5 hours total. The kayaking along the river is gorgeous and so is the hike to the waterfall.

Do a helicopter tour over the island to see waterfalls, valleys, and the Na Pali Coast by air. This is something I haven’t done yet but everyone says is amazing. I’ve heard Wings Over Kauai is a great option!

Visit Kilauea Lighthouse (you might even see some whales and definitely will see some goats on the way!). You don’t need too much time here but it is a great place to learn about the different types of animals on Kauai!

Places to eat & drink in Kauai

A cafe in Kauai

Best places to eat

Pink's Hanalei for the most delicious Hawaiian grilled cheese by the beach.

Beach House Restaurant for delicious food and amazing service.

Hanalei Bread Company for great pastries and an awesome brunch spot.

JoJo's Shave Ice for refreshing shave ice you should have after a beach trip.

Tidepools for a special occasion with a spectacular view.

Da Crack for amazing Mexican food - get the quesadilla!

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jennifer Gerad’s guide, Exploring the Garden Island of Kauai.

Advisor - Brianna Seaberg

Travel Advisor

Brianna Seaberg

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Hawai'i.