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  • Elizabeth Werhane
  • "Best day hikes on the Garden Isle?"

Best day hikes on the Garden Isle?

I'll be in Kauai in late September, and I want to frolic. I'm looking for easy to moderate day hikes I can do on any part of the island. Bonus points if they lead to a beach or a place it's safe to swim. Ideally the hikes would be no longer than 7 miles round trip. I'm looking for beauty and a little exercise, not a death march. 

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  • Ke'e Beach (attraction)

    Hanalei Hawaii 96754

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  • Kapaa (city)

    Kapaa Hawaii

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  • Brew Johnson

    top answer by

    I think the best day hike fitting your activities is the hike J.R. referenced at the beginning of the Na Pali Coast national park. I tell most people that if they have one day on the North Shore and want to hike/do a beach, this is probably your beast bet. The hike has two parts: the first section is miles and goes from the parking lot at Ke'e Beach to Hanakapiai Beach . Hanakapiai Beach is beautiful and has a littel creak/stream that runs into it where you can cool off (there are signs posted about dangerous swimming because of strong currents). From there, you can either hike the two miles back to Ke'e Beach, or if you have more energy, there is another trail that follows the stream up the canyon to Hanakapi 'ai Falls (another 2 miles). It's a fairly strenuous hike, but really great and beautiful and a great way to get some exercise.

    The best part, is after doing the hike, you can hang out at Ke'e Beach which has great snorkeling and TONS of turtles. Most people go to the beach by the cove/lagoon where the beach ends at the mountain and it can get a little bit crowded. I like to go down the beach a little towards Hanalei (east). You can find some very good shady areas near the tree roots that can be nice for some shade, especially if its really hot. When snorkeling here, there is a little canyon that is a great place to swim out through… look for big fish and turtles in the holes and crevaces. I normally swim over the reef/out the canyon, then hang a right down the reef for a while, then circle back a little more inside. I have found lots of turtles toward the outside of the reef, but on the shallow sections just inside where the surf rolls in. Last time I had 10 turtles within 20 feet of me. Pretty cool.

    Anohter cool hike is the Nualolo Cliffs Trail. It hikes along the ridgeline of the Napali Coast, allowing you to look down from above which is very beautiful. To get there, you also drive through Waimea Canyon , whic his pretty amazing too. If I were to choose between the two hikes, I'd do the Hanakapiai Hike to the waterfall, but if you have the hankering for more hikes, this is a good one to do and it lets you see a very unique and beatiful part of the island.

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    • JR J.

      JR J.

      i just looked up that Naulolo Cliffs Trail. Looks like it has a couple dicey sections. start watching at 1:58 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RIlymcoXmY · (0 likelikes)

    • Nick O.

      Nick O.

      Great summary of the hike that starts at the beginning of the Na Pali Coast national park. We did this hike to the beach and back, then snorkeled. Your description of this place took me back to when we were there, and it captures the area perfectly. Well done! And I highly recommend the hike and snorkeling! · (2 likelikes)

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    1. Ke'e Beach (attraction)
    2. Hanakapiai Beach (attraction)
    3. Hanakapi 'ai Falls (attraction)
    4. Ke'e Beach (attraction)
    5. Nualolo Cliffs Trail (attraction)
    6. Waimea Canyon (attraction)

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  • Janice Sakata-Schultze

    answered by

    Hi Elizabeth! Just as everyone here has said, the most worthwhile trail is the one going along the Na Palicoast. Now, I haven't been there myself, but about everyone I know who has said it's totally deserving of the time and effort because of its jaw-dropping spectacular scenery. I believe the trail is 11 miles from start to end, but you can turn around at any point and head back to the trailhead, which starts at Ke'e Beach and Haena State Park.

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  • Heather George

    answered by

    If you are in the south, a great few mile hike along the coast starts at Shipwrecks Beach (just past the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa ). Head north on the trail to Mahaulepu Beach (swimmable with a calm ocean), you will go by a cool cave on the way to the left, and great ocean views on the right...

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  • Elaine Latham

    answered by

    Hi Elizabeth,

    We didn't do a lot of hiking but we did have the "Ultimate Kauai Guidebook" which I think everyone who is visiting there should have. It has a ton of info on hiking and places to go. We probably would not have seen half the places if it not for this book. I believe you can get it at Amazon or Costco.

    One place we did hike in but its not a long hike, was to Queens Bath. My husband did go in the bath there I was to chicken but it was very beautiful.

    Kapaa is where we stayed and its centrally located to everything on the island.

    Enjoy your stay Kauai is the most relaxing beautiful place I have visited to date.

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    • Heather G.

      Heather G.

      ditto on Queen's Bath - if ocean conditions are calm enough to swim in it, it is gorgeous - bring a snorkel and mask to see tiny juvenile fish in there. · (0 likelikes)

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  • JR Johnson

    answered first by

    hey Elizabeth! We did the hike leaving from Ke'e Beach and hiking along the Napali Coast into the Na'Pali Coast State Park. We only went about a mile and half in and then turned around but it was amazingly beautiful! It's a right along the water and a decent amount of elevation changes. If you go further there are some beaches that you hike down to. Some people camp overnight there, but you can do there and back in a day. Depending on the surf you may or may not be able to swim... in the winter those beaches take some heavy surf. Have fun!

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  • Janice Sakata-Schultze

    answered by

    Elizabeth - There was one other thing I wanted to add. Near Kapaa, there is a bike trail that goes northward along the shore. It's not a hiking trail per se, but it does provide some great access to the beach.

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    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Awesome recommendations, Janice! You can actually edit your original answer by clicking on the "Edit" button at the top of it. I'm the community manager around here, so let me know if you have any questions! :) · (0 likelikes)

    • Janice S.

      Janice S.

      Thanks, Debbie! · (1 likelikes)

    • Elizabeth W.

      Elizabeth W.

      I ran along that path. I was impressed at how far it stretched! Great views. And only a couple of chickens and dogs chased after me. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Alana LaFreniere

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    • Elizabeth W.

      Elizabeth W.

      I'll have to check these out next time. Thanks! · (0 likelikes)

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