Awaawapuhi Trail is my favorite hike in the Koke’e State Park. It has incredible drop-offs and epic views down to the Na Pali Coast. It only takes about an hour and a half each way along the total 6.2 miles out and back journey. If you only have time for one hike on the west side of Kauai, this is your trail.
I hiked all over Kauai for over a month and documented all of my adventures. In my opinion, these are the 15 best hikes on Kauai!
Awaawapuhi Trail Head Location
Awaawapuhi Trail is one of the more popular hikes in the Koke’e Park and subsequently has a large, signposted parking lot. It is before the Kalalau lookout but still takes well over 30 minutes to reach from Waimea Town. The trailhead is on the left of the parking lot.
The Awaawapuhi Trail is one of the more moderate difficulty hikes in Koke’e State Park. While the end viewpoint can get quite dangerous and steep if you venture down, the majority of the trail is well defined and quite straightforward.
The trail is quite wide in most parts and even though it had been raining a lot, the trail was in good condition. Heading down the Awaawapuhi Trail might give you some false confidence about how easy the hike will be. It’s because you spend the entire time hiking down 1500ft. You will feel each and every single step of the way back up as you breathe through the humid air inside the forested path.
The trail out towards the lookout took just under an hour and a half and was in shade most of the way. There were several groups of older hikers and it seemed to be the trail that was being attempted by all types of tourists.
We arrived at the official viewpoint and were blown away by the view. The dramatic drop-offs on either side of the Awaawapuhi ridge were something you don’t see anywhere else in the world. Kauai is the oldest island in the Archipelago and these cliffs have been shaped over thousands of years. It’s mind blowing to stand at the lookout and take it all in.
Most people stop there but it is possible to venture down the ridge although this can be quite dangerous. The rocks can be very crumbly and no step is certain on the ridges out in Koke’e State Park.
The reason why I love this trail and what makes it my favorite out in the west is because of the magnitude of the dropoffs and the gorge. Because the Awaawapuhi Trail drops you so low, you feel like you are almost down in the valley looking up towards the top of the other ridges. These landscapes are what thousands of people travel to Kauai for. They are unique and they are absolutely incredible!
Where to stay on Kauai
I’m going to recommend five places to stay on Kauai. All five of these spots are in great locations but each one is a little different. Two are is a luxury pick, one is a family choice, the other is a value selection and the last recommendation I have for you is where I recommend for the budget backpackers.
Kauai Shores Hotel – Luxury (but value also): Okay so Kauai is expensive that is just a fact. So luxury on Kauai is REALLY expensive. We are talking $700+ a night at many hotels. Kauai Shores Hotel has the luxury feel with the resort style property, palm trees, and a beautiful pool area. However, it is less than $300 a night. The best part about this hotel is that it is right on the beach. The restaurant literally looks out to the waves, which is an awesome spot to start your day with breakfast. This is a great choice if you do want a high-end hotel for your stay in Kauai but you still want to keep things reasonable and not blow thousands and thousands on your getaway. Remember you will want to do lots of activities and get a rental car as well maybe so saving a couple of hundred a night by staying at the Kauai Shores Hotel compared to the Marriot will give you the resort vibe but not be extravagant on your budget.
Koloa Landing Resort – Luxury (high-end): I was lucky enough to spend three nights reviewing Koloa Landing Resort and honestly the place is just phenomenal. It is part of the Wyndham Autograph collection and has the LARGEST pool on all of Kauai with beautiful, natural-style landscaping throughout the pool areas. Palm trees surround the pool and restaurant areas on what is one of the most luxurious properties on the island. The rooms had all of the trimmings and it was definitely an amazing experience to spend a few nights at Koloa Landing Resort.
The Grand Hyatt Resort – Best Family Resort: With the best kids’ club on the island, wildlife talks in the lobby, and a five-acre pool complex that includes an enormous lazy-river pool, a waterslide, and a saltwater lagoon big enough for kayaking, the Grand Hyatt is unbeatable for keeping kids busy and parents happy. Plus, five of the resort’s 11 restaurants have children’s menus at The Grand Hyatt Resort.
Hilton Garden Inn – Value Pick: The Hilton Garden Inn is your number one choice if you are on a budget but still need comfort. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t cheap it is still over $200 USD but this is Kauai. $200 USD is a bargain. The Hilton has a beautiful pool, has private beach access and hot tubs so you are still getting awesome value and the resort experience. The Hilton Garden Inn is where you go when you want to enjoy the hot tub, pool and beach access but don’t necessarily care about all of the trimmings at the resorts that are 4 figures or more per night. If I was on a honeymoon or with a family, this is where I would stay and spend the saved money and helicopter tours, rental cars and experiences!
More Kauai Blog Posts
I spent an entire month exploring the island of Kauai. In particular, I was hiking all of the trails and made several guides for the best hikes and easiest hikes so you can enjoy the trails of the island.
North Shore Hiking Guide: 4 AWESOME HIKES ON THE NORTH SHORE OF KAUAI
Kauai Hiking Guide: 15 BEST HIKES ON KAUAI
Easy Hikes on Kauai: 8 EASY HIKES ON KAUAI WITH GREAT VIEWS
Cliff Jumping Guide to Kauai: BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON KAUAI
Open Door Helicopter Flight Kauai: EPIC DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF KAUAI