On the eastern side of the island of Kauai, are two really fun and accessible hikes. Sleeping Giant in Wailua and Ho’opi’i Falls near Kapa’a. The trailheads are only about a 15-minute drive from each other so it’s worth checking out both if you’re in the area. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:
- Out and back
- 2.4 miles total
The hike to Ho’opi’i Falls is open to the public but technically on private property. I would recommend using Google Maps to find the trailhead. There is no parking lot, but you can park on the side of the road while being respectful of the residents and property owners.
The trail is fairly flat and easy in my opinion. Hiking poles are not necessary.
There are two waterfalls along the trail. The smaller falls towards the beginning and the taller falls at the end. I read that you should not get in the water due to sanitation issues from nearby septic systems but we saw lots of people swimming.
We didn’t swim so we were out and back in only about an hour. It’s definitely worth the short hike to be able to see the two waterfalls.
Fun fact: I read that Ho’opi’i Falls were used as a filming location in Jurassic Park!
Sleeping Giant (Nounou Mountain)
- Out and back
- East side is 3.4 miles total
- West side is 1.7 miles but more difficult
Sleeping Giant is one of the more popular trails on Kauai. You get awesome views of Wailua and the surrounding area on your way up and at the top.
Why is it called Sleeping Giant? According to All Trails: Local legend tells of a giant who feasted so much at a party in his honor that he laid down for a nap and never awoke, and when you see the mountain’s resemblance to a sleeping giant from the nearby town of Kapa’a you can see why the legend persists.
Can you see him?
There are two trails to the “chest” of the giant, one on the East side and one on the West. They meet up towards the end of the trail. We chose the East side because it was closer to where we were coming from. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead and street parking in the area.
The hike was not super difficult. You gain a bit of elevation but the winding trail gives you plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the view. There is only one spot on the east side that requires a scramble.
I say the trail wasn’t difficult, however someone was airlifted off of the mountainside ahead of us. We heard it was more of a medical emergency than a hiking injury but we also learned from some locals that helicopter rescues are a pretty common on Kauai because visitors are unprepared. So stay alert my friends!
All-in-all these were perfect warm-up hikes to some of the more difficult ones we did later in our trip. If you’re only visiting Kauai for a short time, these hikes are a great way jump in a waterfall and hike to a mountaintop in a few short hours.