7 Kauai Family Hikes

Nature spots to promote normalcy in our kids’ lives while also practicing social distancing.

Our lives have dramatically changed in the past few months. While it’s so important to stay home at this time, it’s also challenging to take on the new role of being a teacher while also juggling work and trying to create some sort of normalcy in our kids’ lives. While there will be many ups and downs as we all figure out this new normal, there are several ways to maintain social distance while also getting fresh air and enjoying nature by walking, biking, or hiking at one of the many trails on Kauai. While many of the playgrounds are closed, the trails are still open which is a great way to explore, get some exercise, and help to break up the monotony of being home.

Below we are sharing some of our favorite hikes and walks on Kauai that you and your family can explore while also practicing social distancing.

Mahaulepu Coastal Trail is a great coastal hike that takes you from the south east corner of Shipwreck Beach Keonela Bay along sand-dune cliffs, Kiawe trees, limestone formations and rocky inlets that are an occasional safe haven for marine life, such as sea turtles and the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal. Mahaulepu Beach is remote and rugged and the ocean here is usually rough and more suited for whale watching, beach combing and hiking. This is a sacred sanctuary that needs to be preserved.

Kuilau Trail is a great walk for enjoying the many species of plant life on Kauai. Follow the old road that turns into a trail that leads you to amazing panoramas of Makaleha Mountains. At about the one mile point you can take a break in a grassy field bordered by an Ohia forest, a picnic table and sweeping views of lush valleys and Mount Waialeale and the Makaleha Mountain Range. Kuilau Trail is located in the Keahua Arboretum. Follow Hwy 580 through the rural neighborhoods of Wailua and up into the forested park area of Keahua. The trail begins just before the park area on the right. Designated parking for about three cars is available. If parking is full drive a bit further and more parking is available within a short walk.

Nounou Kuamoo Trail is a favorite hike that will lead you over the Opaekaa Stream across a quaint wooden bridge and through a forest of strawberry guavas. For a quick hike and nice picnic area you can stop at the covered picnic table at the .75 mile. This valley vista will reward you with views of Kalepa Ridge and upper Wailua Homestead. The Nounou Trail continues along the west side of Nounou Mountain and meets up with the west side trail at about 1.8 miles. At the top of the trail, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of mount Waialeale, Anahola’s Kong mountain, Wailua River Valley and the coastline from Kealia to Kalapaki,. The picnic table at the top is a great rest spot for a picnic and shelter. You can continue on along the ridge toward the giant’s head, but the trail becomes more difficult, and requires some climbing to traverse. At the end of this spectacular hike you will be treated to a 360-degree view of East side of Kauai.

The reason for the name “Sleeping Giant Trail” is because you will hike across the chest of the giants profile that is easily seen from the ocean side or Kapaa side of the mountain.

Moalepe Trail on the East Side of Kauai offers wonderful views of the green jagged ridges of Makaleha and far off ocean views. The trail-head is at the end of the pavement on Olohena Road in the upper Wailua Homesteads. The fist part of the hike you will enjoy ocean vistas, views of the Anahola Mountains and Kong, and close-up views of the Makaleha Mountain Ridge. Moalepe Trail enters the Halelea Forest Reserve after about a mile. The Moalepe Trail narrows and becomes dense with foliage and slowly climbs up to the Kuilau Ridge. Keep your camera ready for great photo opportunities. The Moalepe Trail is part of the Na Ala Hele Trail System and is also popular with equestrians and mountain bikers. The hike can be continued along the KuilauTrail if you arrange for a car to meet you on the other side

Pihea Trailor Kilohana Lookout is located at the end of Hwy. 550 at the Puu o Kila scenic lookout. Watch the graceful sea birds catch the wind drafts and fly freely over the valleys and Kalalau beach below. As you begin the trail you will find yourself perched on a land bridge straddling 4,000 feet above the Kalalau Valley floor and the Alakai Swamp, with inland views stretching to Mount Waialeale, “The Wettest Spot on Earth”.

After the vista and the short downhill stretch you will meet up with the boardwalk that follows the trail through forest of Ohia, Koa, wild ferns, and other native plants. Keep your eyes open for rare sightings of one of the many birds that make this forest their home.

The Elepaio is a indigenous bird found in Kokee State Park, it is named because its beautiful song sounds like its name.

Waipoo Falls is a 800 foot cascading waterfall that can be seen from various lookouts along the canyon road. You won’t be disappointed by this lovely hike that starts off amongst the forested bird-lands on the rim of Halemanu Canyon. This is a popular hike for families.

The beginning of this trail will take you from hwy 550 and along Halemanu Road for .75 miles to the trail head of the canyon trail and Waipoo Falls Trail. Though you will not see the falls in all their splendor, this tranquil and beautiful hike will lead you along the canyons rim giving you a unique vantage pint of the canyon and Kokee Rain Forest. The trail ends at the top of the 800 foot waterfall along a fragrant Awapuhi Ginger lined stream where will find yourself perched high above the canyon floor with a spectacular view of the canyon below and magnificent photo opportunities.

Kauai Bike Path

A great go-to on the East Shore, the Kauai Bike Path provides the perfect way to experience a breathtaking coastline. The rolling paved path is walkable, bikable and wheel-chair accessible. You can access the Kauai Bike Path from multiple parking lots between Wailua and Kapaa.