Adventures in Kauai on a Budget

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.

Adventures in Kauai on a Budget, Kalalau Lookout Ridge Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

Looking down on the Kalalau Valley

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.

Kalalau Lookout Ridge Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

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.

Kalalau Lookout Ridge Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

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 cater 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.

Kalalau Trail in Napali Coast, Kauaii

Hiking the Famous Kalalau Trail

Canyon and Cliff Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park

One of the most popular hikes in Kauai, the Canyon Trail and Cliff Trail are within Koke’e State Park. These trails can be combined 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.

Cliff Trail, Canyon Trail, Waipo'o Falls Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

Canyon Trail View

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 onto 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.

Kalalau Lookout Ridge Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

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 to 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.

Awa'awapuhi Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai

The View from the end of the Awa’awapuhi Trail


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.

Wailau Falls, Wailau River State Park, Kauai

Falls and the Rainbow


Kauai on a Budget


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.

Kalalau Trail in Napali Coast, Kauaii

Tent site right near Kalalau Waterfall



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 provide 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.

Poke from Kauai Pupu Factory

Poke from Kauai Pupu Factory



Links to Ultimate Guides in Kauai:

Ultimate Guide for Camping and Permits in Kauai

Ultimate Guide for the Kalalau Trail

Ultimate Guide to Cheap Eats in Kauai


Other Top Posts from Hawaii:

Road to Hana Ultimate Guide


Big Island Getaway


Return to Hawaii

Return to Travel Destinations



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DISCLAIMER: We do not recommend for you to attempt what you see in some of our pictures, especially for the Kalalau Lookout Trail, or any trail beyond where there are signs stating to not go. This website does not serve as an official guide of any type.  If you attempt any of the hikes, climbs, or other activities documented on you are doing so at your own risk. Hiking is dangerous and accidents do occur, in some cases fatal. Timon Peskin, Yana Peskin and is 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.


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