Saturday, March 24, 2012

Swimming Hikes on Kauai (Hawaii, USA)

guest post by Great Vacation Retreats

The island of Kauai, of one of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, is noted for its jugged mountains, palm fringed beaches, and beautiful tropical scenery. For those that enjoy outdoor exploration, Kauai offers many exceptional hikes. An especially enjoyable and unique activity is combining hiking and swimming. There's nothing quite like cooling off with a swim in the ocean after the exertion of a strenuous hike. Below, we outline four hikes on Kauai that begin and end at the ocean.

The first hike is an easy 1.5 mile round trip that starts and ends at Moloaa Bay on Kauai's northeast coast. Moloaa Bay is a beautiful crescent shaped beach, made famous when it was used for the first episode of the TV series Gilligan's Island. The trail begins at the north end of the beach and makes its way along the coast, eventually coming to a dead end at private property. The ocean views along the trail are soothing, and in the winter months you may even spot migrating Humpback whales. You can end your hike with swimming or snorkeling at the bay. For a convenient picnic lunch, the Moloaa Sunrise fruit stand nearby sells all sorts of healthy and tasty treats, from smoothies to sandwiches.

One of the most famous hikes in Hawaii is the Kalalau Trail along Kauai's rugged Napali coast. The Kalalau Trail is 11 miles long and suitable for experienced hikers who are prepared to spend a night camping in the Kalalau valley. For a challenging day hike one can hike the first two miles of the trail to Hanakapi'ai Beach. Resist the urge to swim at this remote beach as it's one of the most dangerous on the island with strong currents at all times. At this point you can turn back, or hike inland for 2 miles to the 300 foot high Hanakapi'ai Falls. Including the falls this makes for an 8 mile hike that takes around seven hours. It's important to prepare for this hike with hiking gear and plenty of water and snacks. The trail changes elevation frequently and can be very slippery when it rains. The Kalalau Trail starts at the end of the highway on Kauai's north shore at Ke'e beach. This beach has excellent swimming and snorkeling, especially in the summer months when the ocean is calmer.

In the town of Kapaa on the eastern coast of Kauai is the Kapaa Bike Path, a four mile long ocean side paved path. This hike is ideal for those that don't like inclines, or need a smooth walking surface. The path passes by Kealia Beach, a life guarded beach with swimming, surfing, and boogie boarding. The beach actually makes for a good starting and ending point. Walking north from Kealia takes you through the most scenic section of the path and to another beach called Donkey Beach. This segment is approximately three miles round trip.

In Poipu on the southern coast of Kauai is the Mahaulepu Coastal Trail (also see top photo). The trail starts at Shipwreck Beach in front the Grand Hyatt hotel and continues along undeveloped coastline for about three miles, passing remote Mahaulepu Beach two miles into the hike. It's not uncommon to see an endangered monk seal napping on the sand. The solitude and beautiful ocean views make this one of the best hikes on the island. Although there are no inclines the hike is still fairly strenuous as parts of it are over sand and there are few trees to provide shade from the hot Hawaii sun.

This article (and photography) was provided by Great Vacation Retreats, a Kauai vacation rental agency. Great Vacation Retreats manages a number of rental properties including rentals at Puu Poa, a luxury condominium complex in Princeville.


Hiking in Wales said...

The hiking trails in Kauai are really great, and the coastal walks and beaches too! Too bad I'm a bad swimmer, otherwise it might be fun to take a dip when the weather gets too hot.

Mark H said...

@wales: I can't think of a better finish to a hike than a refreshing dip in the ocean or lake.

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