The Wai Koa Loop Trail is a beautiful, safe hike for the family to take on your Kauai vacation.
Make no mistake, many hiking trails on the island of Kauai are for seasoned, experienced hikers. The trails are demanding and must be respected. Just ask anyone who has hiked Kalalau Trail to the Napali coast.
One of the best ways to experience and feel Kauai is to get out and take a hike! And our favorite trail for that is the Wia Koa Loop Trail. It is located on the north shore, but very much worth the drive up if you are staying on the south shore. It’s a great scenic trail that loops around a 5 mile radius and suitable for people of all ages.
It’s easy to find. Take the Kuhio Highway (Hwy 56) north from Lihue to Kilauea. In Kilauea look for the Kauai Mini-Golf and the Banana Joes fruit stand – these will be on the mountain (mauka) side of the road. Turn in and drive forward to the trail head. You are asked to check in at the mini-golf desk and sign a waiver beforehand. Mountain bike rentals are available there as well and you may choose riding the trail as a fun alternative. We prefer the walk.
Take your time and enjoy the beauty
The Wai Koa Loop is about a 5 mile walk if you hike the complete loop. Be sure to bring a bottle of water. The trail is well marked and most find it to be a very level hike. It takes about 2 hours at a leisurely pace to complete but if you wanted to shorten the time, you could always turn around to return.
We did about 2 or so miles of the loop this morning. Here’s our walk today in pictures.
The trail head humors you with this sign that says, “The beginning is the easiest part.”
Do not let that deter you! Within the next 10 minutes you will experience the stunning scenery of Kauai only felt via a hike.
Cresting a small hill you will be greeted by a forest of Mahogany trees lining the landscape in perfect rows creating hundreds of green pathways. This is the United States largest Mahogany Forest, with approximately 86,000 Honduras Mahogany trees. It is a beautiful photo op.
The Loop is walked counter-clockwise, although you can go either direction.
Once through the trees, you will have majestic views of Kauai’s West Makaleha Mountains. You’ll pass a few homes and community gardens. Remember, The Wai Koa Loop is on privately owned property that the owners graciously allow access to enjoy its beauty. Stay on the trail and respect the land.
There are small quaint signs pointing you in the direction to go as well as some quips that will make you smile as you make you way through the 5 mile loop. Approximately halfway in you will pass by the Kilihiwai Lagoons that was once a fresh water prawn farm and is now home to bass, koi and tilapia fish.
If you decide to do the whole loop, taking a slight detour to view the Historic Stone Dam is well worth the time. We did not go that far today, but here is a picture we took from a previous hike:
Here’s the foot bridge you will cross as you approach. Warning: HEED the signs to not go out ON THE Dam. The consequences of doing so are obvious. Use common sense and good judgment.
This historic dam was built and finished in 1881. Kilauea’s community centered around the sugar plantations which operated from 1877 to 1971. According to the marker you will find, this Stone Dam provided water for Kilauea Sugar. The dam continues to supply water for the Wai Koa Plantation.
Here’s what you NEED to know
You and the family will love this hike. Here’s our suggestions for a perfect walk:
* Start EARLY (by 7:30 A.M.) and bring a bottle of water! We know, you are on vacation, but the best time to hike is in the morning. Remember, our temperatures are pretty constant year round. Even though you may be here in the winter months, it’s going to be warm for you! 70’s+. And the summer even more so (80’s+) with a bit more humidity.
* Bring a pair of dry shoes or sandals to change into after your hike. You will thank us for this one. It’s likely to be wet soemwhere along the trail. And muddy if it has rained. Enjoy that! Rain is considered a blessing by Hawaiians and we agree.
* Very important! Bring a freezer bag to seal your camera or phone in in the event of a shower.
* Stop in at Banana Joes (located at the entrance) or Common Ground (located just up the road north past the trail head entrance – mauka [mountain] side) for a fruit smoothie! Both have delicious cold, organic ingredient drinks that will amaze.
A hike on the Wai Koa Loop while you are here is a great way to spend the morning after you have been here a couple of days.
If you’d like to see more pictures of our hikes and daily life in Kauai, or share your story and pictures, please connect with us on our Facebook or Instagram – Aloha Kauai Facebook // Aloha Kauai Instagram
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