Pulling up to the Kalalau lookout, one of the last lookouts in Koke’e State Park, we soak in the views. Stepping towards the viewpoint, Yana notices a small trail beyond the railing. A sign clearly states to stay behind the railing, that it is not a trail and can be fatal.
Per our typical exchange, I ask Yana not to go. Standing next to 2,000-foot vertical drops to the Kalalau Valley, Yana glances over at me and as usual, Yana ignores my request. She continues and before I know it, she is out of sight. I follow. Within a minute there are stunning panoramic views. It makes the overlook seem like an afterthought. Yana has a grin on her face. I am not sure whether it is her sense of success, or she hasn’t had enough. She continues on the trail. I follow.
Trail along edge of a landslide washout
The further the trail goes, the more exposed it becomes. We clearly are on a ridge line of a mountain. It starts manageable with a ridge 20-30 feet wide. Eventually, the ridge narrows to the width of the trail, nearly three feet wide. There is clear evidence of mudslides. The ground is soft. We give each other a look, but no words are spoken. Yana continues on the trail. I follow.
View from the Tree
It is a dead-end. Any further and we would fall to our deaths. Looking around us, the views are breathtaking. Beneath us are views of the Kalalau Beach and miles of the Na’Pali coastline until it disappears into the haze. In just two days time, starting from 15 miles from here, we will hike the Kalalau trail, ending just below where we now stand. Silence reminds us of the 2,000-foot drop on both sides. Clouds quickly are gathering. A raindrop falls. We need to leave. Fast. I look to Yana and she already left. I follow.
Kauai is a land of adventure and has some amazing hikes. The island has stunning mountains that meet the Pacific, at the famed Na’Pali coast. While Hawaii is expensive, cheap camping options exist all around Kauai. There is excellent food that caters to those on a budget. Overall, Kauai is an excellent choice for a visit, even for those on a budget. The Adventures in Kauai on a Budget will take you through the best of Kauai!
Best Hikes in Kauai
Kalalau Trail, Na’Pali Coast State Park
The famous Na’Pali coastline is a highlight of Kauai. The Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile round trip hike, the only way to truly explore this coastline up close. This is by far the best hike, not just in Kauai, but all of Hawaii. Recognized as one of the worlds most dangerous hikes with 11 miles of continuous ascents and descents which include river crossings. The hike is grueling but pays off at the end. A stunning beach, caves, and an enormous valley with swimming holes to explore all sit at your fingertips. This hike is for experienced hikers and can be very dangerous, in particular during the river crossings. For more on obtaining a permit and the hike itself, read more on the Ultimate Guide to the Kalalau Trail.
Canyon and Cliff Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park
One of the most popular hikes in Kauai, the Canyon Trail, and Cliff Trail is within Koke’e State Park. These trails can be joined for a single hike to multiple viewpoints into the Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The hike to the top of the Waipo’o Falls is a 4-mile round trip hike. This hike is suitable for most, however, there is a steep ascent on the return.
Kalalau Lookout Ridge Trail, Koke’e State Park
Described in the introduction of this article, the Kalalau Lookout Ridge trail is officially closed and not a formal trail. However, there are still many who hike out on this ridge for the incredible views. This 2-mile trail is adventurous as they come in Kauai. Please note the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
View Looking down to Kalalau Beach
Awa’awapuhi Trail, Koke’e State Park
This in and out hike is 3 miles entirely downhill through a forest. Although the hike in its self is not impressive there is a spectacular reward at the end. Views of the two valleys, the Nualolo and Awa’awapuhi, are remarkable. There is a narrow section beyond the lookout with vertical drops 2,000 feet on each side. The hike back is entirely uphill, or combine with the Nualolo trail to make a 12-mile loop.
Wailua Falls Trail, Wailua River State Park
Just north of Lihue is the Wailua River State Park. Wailua Falls lookout sits at the end of the park. There is a very short 0.3-mile trail to the bottom of the falls this is officially closed. This trail is not easy to get down to, especially if the track is muddy. It is extremely steep and requires some scrambling. Head past the fence for the start of the trail. There is a nice swimming lagoon at the bottom of the falls.
Kauai on a Budget
Camping in Kauai
Visiting Kauai can be very expensive, but there also are several ways to cut back on costs. Camping is plentiful around the island and cost as little as $3 per night in county campsites and $18 per night in State Parks. Read more on Camping in Kauai and Obtaining Camping Permits.
Cheap Food in Kauai
Kauai has excellent food, and without question, some of the best poke in Hawaii. The seafood is incredibly fresh, and there are plenty of options for those on a budget. You can find many places to eat for under $10 per person which give for an excellent meal. Don’t miss some of the islands bests, such as Kauai Pupu Factory, Da Crack, Tiki Taco’s, Pono Market, and the Kilauea Fish Market. Read the full article here on Cheap Eats in Kauai.
We have dealt with some unfortunate instances while traveling in the past. Our baggage misplaced, laptops stolen, and the need to change our travel plans. All of this is a major headache and costly. We highly recommend getting travel insurance so you are fully covered for your trip. World Nomads has some of the best international travel plans out there. Don’t get caught without it!
Don’t forget your handy travel guides. While Lonely Planet in our humble opinion has slipped in years past on reading material, they still come in handy. While we get frustrated at times with outdated information, lack of updates, and prices that never seem to match up, they are excellent for help with creating itineraries. Frustrated or not, we always seem to download a copy before we travel. The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed is another good one for Hawaii.
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Links to Ultimate Guides in Kauai:
Check out these other articles on Hawaii:
- Adventures in Kauai on a Budget
- Big Island Getaway
- Dayhike in Haleakala Crater, Maui
- Six Best Hikes in Maui
- Ultimate Guide to Road to Hana
- Waihe’e Ridge Trail Hike, Maui
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DISCLAIMER: We do not recommend for you to attempt any hikes where there are signs stating to not go. This website does not serve as an official guide. If you attempt any of the hikes, climbs, or other activities documented on beardandcurly.com you are doing so at your own risk. Hiking in Hawaii is dangerous and accidents do occur, sometimes fatal. Timon Peskin, Yana Peskin, and beardandcurly.com are not responsible for loss, damages, legal fees, medical fees, injury or death incurred as a result of your actions taken as a result of visiting this website.
Visited in January 2016.