Safety Tips

Kaua`i trails can be as dangerous as they are beautiful, especially for those without knowledge of island back country. Here are a few important tips for making your exploration safe.

Stay hydrated

Do not underestimate the amount of water your body needs while hiking in Kaua`i's tropical heat. Staying hydrated will prevent unnecessary accidents.

Stay protected from the sun

Overexposure to the strong island sunshine can burn your skin and cause fatigue and exhaustion. Stay protected from intense rays by wearing appropriate gear.

Wear appropriate shoes

Ill-fitting shoes or footwear unsuitable for hiking can cause a fall, which can be very dangerous when in remote locations. Make sure you are hiking in comfortable shoes that provide stability and comfort. See our Footwear guide for more info.

Pack light

while you need to be prepared, do not pack more than you need. Added weight to an already strenuous hike can create exhaustion and overheating. Also, a pack that is too heavy can easily throw you off balance, which could be life-threatening on certain cliffside trails.

Watch for rocks

Kaua`i's terrain is crumbling. Land beneath your feet can be unstable. Watch your footing. Be aware that trees and rocks are not necessarily reliable strongholds and often will fall out of soft earth with only a little pressure. Wildlife traveling the land above trails can sometimes move loose rock. Stay alert.

Use caution at river crossings

Currents can be strong and easily pull you under. Flash flooding can occur at any time, even when it is not raining where you are. Pay particular attention while crossing streams during rainfall, as huge amounts of water can gush downstream without warning. Rocks can be very slippery.

Stay on the trail

There are a myriad of reasons for sticking to the trail. Besides the fact that it damages the endangered flora of the island, veering off the trail can endanger your life. Off-roading can expose you to a host of dangers and can lead to unexpected drop-offs (sometimes completely concealed by brush), scratchy underbrush, crumbling ground and dangerous situations. Hiking on Kaua`i is one instance where it is best to stick to the road most travelled - the designated trail.

Do not climb on cliffs

some of Kaua`i Explorer's highlighted trails lead to vistas atop steep cliffs. These vantages are marked by railings that indicate the safest point to take in the view. Do not go beyond these markers. Kaua`i's cliffs are slippery, crumbly, steep and unpredictable. They have taken lives.

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Now you're in the know... are you ready to go?

Trail Comments (35 comments)   View all comments   

Ed Holzberger | Jan 05, 2008 9:31AM

My wife and I are coming to Kaua'i for the second time in Sept., 08. We love to hike, and are planning to hike part of the Napali Coast. We are looking for some secluded beaches to hang out for a few [...] view more

Kauai Explorer Staff | Jan 06, 2008 6:51AM

Hello Ed - after Hanakapiai the next beach on Na Pali is Kalalau (9 more miles down the trail). You can find some secluded beaches in Haena. W

Eric | Jan 18, 2008 12:50AM

How long in advance does one normally need to reserve camping permits for Kalalau trail (or others) in July/August? Could we do that a few days before once we're on the island?

Kauai Explorer Staff | Jan 18, 2008 9:21AM

Hi Eric - I recommend contacting the DLNR office in Lihue at (808) 274-3444. Seems like they are do a good job of facilitating the permit process via mail (perhaps even easier than showing up [...] view more

Stu McNichols | Apr 06, 2008 5:03PM

Any recommendations for a group of four, over 50ish, some of whom are not in particularly great long distance hiking condition? First time visitors who all love nature.
Many thanks!

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