Travel and Leisure — August 4, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Best Hiking Trails in Kauai

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Kauai, “The Garden Isle”, features more than lush gardens and tropical rainforests. Kauai’s diverse terrain attracts hikers who are ready to explore every landscape from canyon-lands to sunny shorelines. These top hikes showcase the best of Kauai landscapes and all that the island has to offer. Bring a camera, as these photogenic sites are a once in a lifetime site-to-see and exclusive to Hawaii.

Mahaulepu – estivillml / iStock

Mahaulepu – estivillml / iStock

Mahaulepu Heritage Trail
Located on the south shore, Poipu, this trail is a perfect shoreline hike starting from Shipwreck Beach and traveling along the rocky shoreline. Trekkers pass Kiawe trees, sand dunes and cave-like inlets, which sometimes house wildlife such as turtles and seals.

Hanakapiai Falls Hike
This 8-mile roundtrip hike starts off at Kee beach, with the first two-miles meandering along the seashore to Hanakapiai beach. The trail then winds inland for another two miles leading to a beautiful cascading waterfall.

Waipoo Falls Hike
Located in the west end of Waimea Canyon, this trail treks through the canyon’s red dirt, leading to the top of the magnificent 800-foot waterfall. The falls are best seen from Highway 550. However, the trail is a unique experience of desert and tropical environments making the trek well worth it.

Waipoo Falls – Kenneth Sponsler / Hemera

Waipoo Falls – Kenneth Sponsler / Hemera

Kuilau Ridge Trail
For an easier hike, this trail leads through a lush jungle setting, escaping the shoreline, and showcasing the best of Kauai’s interior. This hike is ideal for families, but be cautious during wet climate, as families will want to avoid being caught in lightning storms.

Sleeping Giant
Located on the East side of the island, this hike meanders overtop Nounou Mountain, which looks like a giant who is deep at rest, sleeping in the sun. The hike gains 1,200 feet in elevation and pays off with panoramic views at the top of the trail, the giant’s chest. 

Hanakapiai Beach
Located off the North Shore, this 4-mile hike starts off at Kee beach. The hike features coastal views along the popular Nepali Coast. Hikers can swim in Kee Beach, making this a perfect mountain-beach integrated outing.

Kalalau Trail
Most hikers admit this is one of, if not the, best hikes in Kauai. Trekkers—step carefully on this Nepali coast trail, sometimes-just feet away from a steep cliff towering hundreds of feet above the ocean. The hike is moderate to difficult, but well worth the effort. The trail is 11-miles each way, thus it’s a popular overnight camping site.

Kalalau – dafritz / iStock

Kalalau – dafritz / iStock

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