On our last couple of trips, we’ve stayed in the sunny South of Kauai, in the Poipu area, and have discovered a few nice trails for all abilities, which give you the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood, and take in some stunning views of the coastline. So if you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Kauai, these are on my “must do” list!
Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
Distance: around 4 miles out and back
Starting point: official starting point is Shipwreck’s Beach (Keoneloa Bay) opposite the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
This is a great trail of contrasting landscapes, taking you from a picture perfect beach, along sand dune cliffs, sand- limestone “pinnacles”, and past the Poipu golf course, with stunning coastal views the whole way.
We did this hike when we were staying at Hideaway Cove on Nalo Rd (see here) so we were quite close to the trailhead.
The Maha’ulepu trail forms part of the Koloa Heritage Trail, which I talked about in my last post here
The first part of the hike runs parallel to the coastline through the dunes. It’s quite rugged, with exposed roots and rocks, so proper hiking shoes definitely recommended!
There appear to be a few trails meandering in and out of the trees, so it can be hard to see where the correct one is. As they all go generally in the same direction, and as long as you stay with the coastline, you can’t go too wrong.
I actually chose to take detours on the other trails away from the cliffs when I felt like I was getting too close to the edge for my liking (for most normal people who aren’t scared of cliff edges, the main path is fine!).
The trail continues along the coastline, with the Poipu golf course on your left. I was slightly worried about the prospect of flying golf balls while walking along a cliff top path!
There are a lot of warning signs in this area to stay on the correct path and not to get too close to the cliff edge. Hopefully you won’t need to be told this! The ground is unstable and can easily crumble. Better to live to tell the tale!
Stunning coastal views along the trail
We went as far as the sign for CJM Stables, then retraced our route back, but you can continue on to the Makauwahi Cave Reserve (which I intend to do next time).
On our way back, we stopped for a snack break at the limestone pinnacles (which are not comfy to sit on!), and saw quite a few turtles from our viewpoint.
The hike is a definite “must do” when you’re in the Poipu area. Remember to always wear suitable footwear and travel with enough water. Even on shorter hikes, its pretty easy to get overheated in the Hawaiian sun!
Poipu Kai Green Belt Trail
Distance: Around 2 miles circular walk
Starting point: Pane Road (opposite Brennecke’s Beach)
This is a really nice trail which takes you on a paved pathway through the “Green Belt” neighbourhood, where beautiful houses sit astride perfectly manicured lawns, and plumeria trees and tropical plants guide your way.
This is a very exclusive part of Poipu, where I’m sure the price of houses is pretty eye-watering! There are also some lovely vacation rentals in this area.
The pathway has access to both Shipwreck’s Beach and Brennecke’s beach (my personal favourite beach in the area!).
The end of the Green Belt trail rejoins the Heritage Trail just past Shipwreck’s Beach, to take you back along the coastal path and then onto Pe’e Road, back towards the start of the trail and the Beach Park.
Kukuiolono Park & Golf Course
Distance: 1.4 miles (according to the All Trails app.. I didn’t measure the distance but I think it’s less than this!)
Not so much a hike as a stroll, but definitely a hidden gem in the Koloa area which gives you outstanding views of the Southern Coastline. No golfing required!
The golf course is around a 20 minute drive from Poipu Beach area. From the parking area, you can take a walk around the themed gardens, which have interesting Hawaiian artefacts and objects.
We couldn’t find the actual loop trail at first, but it’s to the left of these gardens, ascending up the hill alongside the golf course.
Once you get to a small club house, the path loops back round to take you back the same way.
The views from the path are breathtaking, and this is well worth taking the time to drive up there, perhaps for a pre-dinner stroll.
I hope this post has inspired you to get out there and do some great hikes on the beautiful Island of Kauai!
I’d love to hear from any of you who have done these or other hikes, and any recommendations you have.
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Safe travels and Mahalo!