Kauai hiking guide: the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail

The south shore of Kauai in Hawaii has one of the most stunning hiking trails on the entire island. The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail near Piopu provides absolutely stunning vistas of the Hawaiian coast. It also is a relatively easy hike along the coastline. To get there, go to the trailhead at Shipwreck’s Beach in Poipu. The road to the trailhead is called Ainako St; this is off Piopu Road. There is a small paved parking lot at the beach, but, if it’s full, parking on the east side of Ainako St is fine. The trail is roughly two miles of mostly flat terrain with a few uphill spots. Overall, it was a very pleasant walk. You’ll want to allow 2-3 hours to take some time to enjoy the views.

Walk down to the beach and take a left, which eventually takes you to Mahaulepu Heritage Trail after a scramble up a bluff. The bluff itself provides fantastic views of the beach and ocean. The views are simply spectacular with fascinating rock formations punctuated with sandy beaches and interesting-looking plants and trees. Along the way, you’ll pass right by a Hawaiian temple platform (called a heiau). The sight of hundreds of roots spanning sections of the trail was striking, though we had to watch where we stepped. There was a constant breeze which was nice, though my camera lens kept being covered with a fine mist of sea spray.


On the way back, we took a right branch of the trail and found ourselves in a dense forest with beautiful trees whose long branches that overhung the trail punctuated with lush grassland. It was a fascinating detour, and eventually we made it back to the main trail.

Overall, this was a fairly easy hike presenting some of the most spectacular vistas we had ever seen. A wide angle lens will be your best friend on this hike. This hike is a must see if you find yourself on the southern shore of Kauai.