NUALOLO CLIFF TRAIL ON KAUAI, HAWAII
The Nualolo Cliff Trail on Kauai takes you from 3800ft to 2200ft, but rewards you with epic views of Nualolo Valley and the Na Pali Coast. The 3.8-mile track is a half-day adventure in the Koke’e State Park.
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!
Nualolo Cliff Trail Map
The Nualolo Cliff Trail has it’s own parking lot but you can also park in the Koke’e Campground parking lot. In this parking lot, you will find the coffee shop, toilets, water fountain, and information center. The Nualolo Cliff Trailhead is about 100 yards before the Koke’e Campground turn-off.
Nualolo Cliff Trail
The Nualolo Cliff Trail is a 3.8 mile out and back trail. The terrain is very muddy at times and winds you through a dense forest. It is a hike for experienced trekkers and there were many slips from members of our hiking crew.
The trail is very well defined and easy to follow all the way through except for one moment at about the 1.5-mile mark. At this point in time, you have a trail going down the hill to the right and one going up the hill to the left. The trail going up the hill to the left is the correct way to continue to the lookout. The way to the left is where the Nualolo Cliff Trail links with the AwaAwapuhi Trail. It is possible to be both of these trails in one trek but will add on over 5 miles to your total trip, which is already 3.8 miles.
The trail is similar to the AwaAwapuhi trail, which was downhill for almost the entire journey, making it a relaxing but brisk walk along the red sand path. The jungle became dense in parts but never impeded the path, only making for beautiful scenery as we made our way towards the coast.
We crossed paths with some local hunters who had their dogs with them. We shuffled past their group who had a big boar tied at the legs, their kills of the day!
After about 40 minutes of hiking, we broke out of the forest and got a glimpse of the ocean. We were excited to not be engulfed by a cloud as happens often in Koke’e State Park along the ridge trails.
The Nualolo Cliff Trail delivered its first ridge view and we were blown away as with all the hikes out in the west. The grand scale of the cliffs is something you can never really get used to.
We reached what appears to be the official viewpoint and the watch said we had completed the 1.9 miles out. However, the trail seemed to continue so we did also and the views only got better and better! The trail to the second lookout led us through some thick grass and down some steep descents but nothing too crazy! The second lookout was a little plateau where we hung out and rested before turning back.
We ended up having an awesome look straight down the Na Pali coast and had the chance to inspect the other ridges as they were covered in clouds. I’m glad we chose Nualolo on this day as it is a little lower and helped us avoid the cloud cover that could have potentially ruined our views of the coast.
The hike back is a little tougher than coming in as it is all uphill but it’s only 1.9 miles back to complete the 3.8-mile journey.
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