Alright, to review-- 7 Kauai Hikes Not Named the Kalalau Trail is all about getting to know a few of the other and also outstanding hikes on Kauai. Everyone knows the Kalalalu Trail and while it is indeed an awesome hike I'd like to introduce a couple of other hikes to hopefully ease our collective footprint on Ke'e, Haena and the far north shore. I think, too, that adventuring out to some of the other trails on the island will further develop our relationship and love for Kauai. Part 1 introduced two easy hikes-- the Okolehao Trail and Sleeping Giant. This edition will introduce an easy south shore hike-- The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail in Poipu.
The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail-- Poipu, about 4 miles roundtrip (???), easy
This is my favorite place on the south shore and I really like this hike. It's by far the easiest hike of the 7 and the easiest to get to-- just drive to Shipwrecks (Keoneloa Bay) and park in the small public lot right next to the Hyatt. The trail begins at Shipwrecks beach. Climb up on the bluff and walk south towards Maha'ulepu beach. The entire hike is coastal, leisurely and quite easy. The footing is a little unstable in some areas, but the real dangers are the heat (especially in midday) and falling off the many seaside bluffs that are actually lithified sand dunes. So be careful! (That's what Naomi always says to me before I go out there :-) ). The photo above is from an area about 20 minutes into the trail called The Pinnacles. The photo below was taken on top of Makahuena (the bluff at the south end of Shipwrecks). It is the southernmost tip of Kauai and cool place to watch the ocean and sky with a cup of coffee.
Great views and the trail is just beginning! This trail is also a popular running circuit so if you are a runner or just enjoy a quick jog in nature definitely lace 'em up and have a go. The first 1/2 mile or so is a little sandy and there are many offshoots zigzagging through the dunes, but remember all roads lead to Rome or in this case Maha'ulepu.
The summer brings big waves to the south shore and this hike is a great place to watch the ocean churn and bang against the coastline. On a sunny day the waters are a beautiful turquoise blue. This stretch of the southern rocky coast has perhaps the most beautiful ocean water on Kauai. My only complaint about the trail is that it borders the Poipu Bay Golf Course, and their is one section of about 200 yards where you have to walk along the edge of the artificial and intrusive (in my mind) course. You'll also pass the stables where paniolos can go horseback riding and experience the south shore like a real cowboy.
Looking towards Maha'ulepu beach on a cloudy morning at sunrise. This spot is just past the stables.
deep blue south shore waters and a carved coastline under a sky of clouds. They say that Poipu is the sunny south shore, but when I go I always seem to get my share of clouds! Maybe I bring them with me from the north shore!!!
A red sky at dawn welcomes Naomi and I as we wait for the sun to rise. Pretty much any southeast facing point along the trail is a good place to catch sunrise, but not sunset as the trail takes you further away from the west.
The beach at Maha'ulepu near the end of the trail is one of the most secluded beaches on the island. Get there early and you will likely have the place all to yourself. On windy days Maha'ulepu is a popular place for kite surfing. There is no lifeguard so be careful, know your limits, and understand that the currents out here are predictably heavy and strong.
There is so much that I could say about this hike. I definitely think it is one of the best on the island. Easily accessible, not difficult, amazing colors along the trail, rich in culture and history. It's just a fantastic walk. And if you would like more information on the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail please, visit this incredibly informative link at http://www.hikemahaulepu.org. There you'll find much more info on the flora, fauna and archeology of the area.