Surround yourself with nature and delve into the depths of Kaua‘i’s enchanted forests and seascapes by embarking on any number of hikes around the island.
Most can be completed in a day and are well worth the workout, offering landscapes you wouldn’t otherwise see.
One of the best places to lace up your hiking shoes is Waimea Canyon and Koke‘e State Parks. This west side locale will treat you to unparalleled natural beauty with many options for exploring by foot that range from short, leisurely strolls to strenuous uphill climbs spanning several miles.
The Iliau Nature Loop Trail, for example, is a short trek that presents gorgeous scenery of the red dirt-laced canyon and is great for people of all ages and fitness levels. On the other end of the spectrum, trails like Alaka‘i Swamp and Awa‘awapuhi are known to leave your legs burning, but the scenery along with native flora and fauna will leave you too delighted to notice.
On the east side of the island, Nounou mountain, otherwise known as Sleeping Giant, has hiking trails that can easily be completed in a few hours. There are three paths that start at different points around the mountain and culminate into one spectacular panoramic view of the island more than 1,000 feet in the air.
The north shore has a few different options as well, including the famous Kalalau Trail.
This path is not for the faint of heart, however, nor is it advisable to traverse during wet weather. The trail hugs the fluted cliffs of the Nāpali Coast and, while it is only for those who are athletically inclined, the views are incredibly rewarding. Most people travel the first 2 miles to Hanakāpī‘ai Beach and enjoy the serenity of the secluded area. But the more adventurous journey the entire 11 miles to Kalalau Valley where they camp for at least one night before heading back.
For a completely different experience on the south side of the island, consider the Māhā‘ulepū Heritage Trail. On this moderate hike along the coast you’ll encounter craggy cliffs and sand dunes on a trail that even leads you toward an ancient limestone cave that is home to the wealthiest fossil site in the state.
Plan accordingly and you won’t regret taking the time to explore Kaua‘i by foot.