After hitting the popular beaches of Poipu and Hanalei and exploring some of the other well-known Kauai attractions, it’s time to step off the beaten path to experience some lesser-known gems. And on an island where beautiful beaches and meandering trails seem innumerable, it’s easy to find new things to add to the itinerary. To experience more of the island’s beauty beyond the tourist hot spots, be sure to add these top 5 under the radar attractions on Kauai to the itinerary!
Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
While many hiking trails on Kauai provide scenic viewpoints across the ocean, few follow the coastline in their entirety. Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is located on the island’s south side and follows the contour of the rugged shoreline for four miles round-trip, offering water views the entire way. This scenic hike runs from Shipwreck Beach on one end to Maha’ulepu Beach on the other. Other than the beaches at the start and finish, the trail weaves its way past rugged coastal cliffs, tidepools, and a golf course. Unlike the resort areas that surround, this special stretch of land has been protected from development, preserving its natural beauty. Along the way, keep an eye out for sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, dolphins, and whale spouts (in season).
Winding its way down the island’s east coast is the Kauai Path, also known as the Ke Ala Hele Makalae. This paved path follows the contour of the coast for nearly 8 miles, making it an excellent place to get in some exercise while soaking up continuous ocean views. The Kauai Path passes by beaches, tidepools, and rugged cliffs, as well as shops and restaurants in the town of Kapa’a. Kapa’a is a good starting point for a day along the waterfront, as there are multiple bike rental companies that offer reasonable rentals near the path. Ride the route simply to soak in the views or bring along beachwear to stop and cool off along the way! At the end of your run or ride, refuel at one of the restaurants located convenient to the path in Kapa’a Town.
Lydgate State Park
This east coast beach is a great draw for families traveling with children and for anyone interested in snorkeling. With a protective rock wall serving as a barrier from larger ocean waves, the waters here are calm. The beach offers two separate swimming areas – one with very shallow water perfect for smaller children, and the other with deeper water and plenty of space for swimming and snorkeling. Despite the rock barrier, fish are still able to make their way into the swimming area, and you’ll soon find yourself snorkeling alongside a variety of brightly colored tropical fish.
Located along the Kalalau Trail, Hanakapiai Falls is perhaps the most striking waterfall on the island. This breathtaking waterfall cascades from approximately 300 feet above, rushing down a sheer cliff into the pool below. While many people hike a portion of the Kalalau Trail and stop at Kalalau Beach before returning, pressing on to Hanakapiai Falls is well worth the reward. The trek is just over 8 miles round-trip and is not for the faint of heart. Elevation gain and sheer cliffs make this a trek best suited for experienced hikers, and there are no amenities along the way. The river crossing at Kalalau Beach should only be attempted with recently dry weather conditions, as this is a site of frequent flash flooding. But with the right weather and a suitable level of fitness, hikers are rewarded with an unforgettable waterfall experience!
Polihale State Park
If you’ve stuck to the beaches located in the resort areas, chances are you’ve been sharing your stretch of sand with numerous other beachgoers. If privacy and seclusion on a long, windswept shoreline sounds appealing, head to Kauai’s west side where Polihale State Park awaits. To reach Polihale, you’ll first have to drive to the far end of Kamuali’i Highway, where the pavement gives way to a rough dirt and gravel road. After a slow-moving journey down the rough, 5-mile road, stunning views await. The cliffs at the far northern end of the beach mark the beginning of the famed Na Pali Coast, making a spectacular backdrop for this secluded beach. With a wide swath of sand that extends for miles, this truly is a beach where solitude can be found. The waters at Polihale State Park can be dangerous for swimming due to a strong shore break and rip currents, and there are no lifeguards onsite. However, this west-facing beach is an excellent place to watch a magnificent sunset. With the island of Ni’ihau in view offshore and panoramic ocean views, watching the fiery sun sink below the horizon over the ocean is a spectacular end to a Kauai day.
Experience some of the most beautiful locations on the island when you visit these top 5 under the radar attractions on Kauai! Contact us!