A brief stop on the “Garden Isle,” the oldest and northern most in the Hawaiian chain, had us hankering for a hike. With rainforests, cliffs, canyons, and coast to choose from, we had a hard time narrowing down the list of options. Ultimately, we settled on two moderate jaunts that covered some of Kauai’s most iconic landscape.
Mahaulepu Heritage Coastal Trail
The turquoise blue water and obsidian black cobblestone of Shipwreck Beach on the South Shore of Kauai is a favorite spot for sun worshipers and surfers alike. It is also the starting point for the Mahaulepu Coastal Trail, an easy two-mile trek that starts with a hike to the top of a 150-foot sea cliff and winds along rocky inlets with dramatic coastal views the entire way.
The Pihea & Alaka’i Swamp Trail
For a more challenging trek (too challenging it turned out) we headed to the northwest side of the island and Koke’e State Park. The road ends at the Kalalau Lookout, which offers sweeping views of the largest valley on the Na Pali Coast. To go further into the park, you have to go on foot, which is something easier said than done.
This area is one of the wettest in the world, which also makes this trail one of the muddiest, and slipperiest, we’ve ever encountered. The hike offers amazing views, but as we climbed into the cloud forest those views became increasingly fogged in. The higher we climbed, the rainier and muddier it got. Fearing we’d descend the trail Romancing the Stone style, we eventually threw in the towel without completing the entire 9-mile trek but are nonetheless glad to have had the opportunity to explore the portion we did.