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Awa'awapuhi Trail: The prettiest view in all of Hawaii?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023


End of Awa'awapuhi Trail

Located on the Island of Kauai, this trail provides all the dramatic and jaw-dropping views you could ask for of the iconic Napali Coast. While the hike requires some delayed gratification--you won't see much but trees and mud as you descend over 3 miles to that final lookout-- when you get there, you are sure to be blown away by this magical landscape.


 

Trail Info

Awa'awapuhi Trail Information Table

Know before you go

  • This hike is all downhill on the way out and entirely uphill on the return which is the complete opposite of most hikes. Keep this in mind as the day will likely get hotter and you are at greater risk of dehydration as the day goes on.

  • Do this hike in the morning if you want to maximize your chances of views. It is possible that the canyon at the end will be socked in by clouds. Clouds typically begin rolling in as the day goes on, so go early to increase your odds of those epic views.

  • It's likely this trail will be muddy in spots. Waimea Canyon and Koke'e state park get a lot of rainfall (nearby Wai'ale'ale Valley actually holds the title of wettest place on earth) so you can expect some mud. Watch your step and plan your footwear accordingly.

Alternate trails and activities nearby


 


The Trail


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

After parking at the designated lot, enter the obvious opening in the trees to begin the hike. It's best you get used to this shaded view, as it is what you will see for about 90% of the trail (but I'm telling you the end is worth it!). Don't be alarmed by this sign either, there aren't any dropoffs until the end of the hike and you don't have to get close to them if you don't want to. .


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

It is a very simple trail to navigate, simply keep following the winding path through the trees. The only junction you will see is this one, which is about 2.5 miles into the trail. This is the junction that would allow you to connect to the Nualolo Trail, a sister ridge of Awa'awapuhi.


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

While the trail is decently wide throughout, there are a few sections where it gets slightly overgrown. Compared to some Hawaii hikes, it's not bad, but wear long pants if you want to minimize any skin irritation.


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

While most of the trail is in the trees, there are a few openings near the end that give you a vantage point of the area. On a clear day, you may catch a glimpse of the island of Nii'hau to the Southwest.


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

And.... we made it! After breaking out of the trees you will be greeted with this view.. It's a short descent down to that ledge where the group of people are standing. I'd say that spot is where 95% of people turn around. Beyond that point is where that hazardous cliff sign comes into play.


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

But if you're looking for those really dramatic views, continuing on is a must. This is where the hike goes from pretty safe, to sketchy. The farther down the ridge you go, the skinnier it gets.


If you want a feel of what it's like, watch this POV video!


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

But hey, that little risk is worth it, for those insta-worthy shots like this.


Awa'awapuhi Trail on Kaua'i

And to get those truly unreal views like this. Only in Hawaii.


 


SS Hot Takes

The first time I did this hike was during my inaugural visit to Kaua'i back in 2017. Ever since, I've claimed it was one of my favorite hikes, and quite possibly the prettiest view in all of Hawaii. I've always wanted to return to this trail to validate that claim.


And in 2023, I was granted the opportunity when I returned to Hawaii for the first time since moving away. When the plans my girlfriend and I formed included a trip to Kauai, I knew this hike had to be on the agenda.


And standing there on that skinny ridge with this view in front of me and those dramatic drop-offs to each side I can say with near certainty that this is the prettiest view in Hawaii, if not the world. It is practically an out of body experience absorbing all those stunning shapes and colors. And while I'm not certain I'll ever return to this place a 3rd time, the fact that I could experience it twice is something I am immensely grateful for.


Other Helpful Resources

  • DLNR website with all relevant information about Koke'e State Park


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DISCLAIMER: This website is for entertainment purposes only. The web designer and contributors are not liable for any injuries, accidents, or damages resulting from the use of information provided. Trail data, including trail statistics such as mileage and difficulty ratings, are provided as estimates based on the best available data at the time of publication and may not be 100% accurate. Conditions on trails can change; users should verify information with local authorities or  other reliable sources before embarking on any hiking or outdoor adventure. Hiking is a high-risk activity; individuals should know their limits, take precautions, and prioritize safety. By using this site, you acknowledge and accept these risks; the web designer and contributors are not legally responsible for any consequences.

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