What To Do In Kauai – Okolehao Trail – Hanalei

If you are looking for what to do in Kauai and you are a hiker, try the Okolehao Trail which is on the mountain behind Hanalei, just down the hill from Princeville. Let me warn you, however, this hike is not for the weary!

The Okolehao Trail is a 2.3 mile hiking path which ascends 1,232 feet up Hihimanu Ridge. As you are driving north into Princeville, look off to the left and you will notice a mountain that has at its top a shape much like a shark’s tooth. That is Hihimanu.

Okolehao Trail is a moderate trail but the weather really determines how difficult it will be to hike. If the north shore has experienced a lot of rain the trail will be much more difficult because of the mud. In this case a walking stick is a must.

The round-trip hike takes about four hours. In some sections, sharp, foot-wide inclines necessitate a system of ropes to aid hikers in their climb up Hihimanu’s spine. The reward, of course, is at the top where there are sweeping, 180 degree views extending from the Kilauea Lighthouse to the Na Pali Coast. Hanalei Bay’s crescent shape will be sparkling right below you.

Not ready to tackle such a heart throbbing adventure? You are in luck. At the half-mile marker there is a plateau with panoramic views of Hanalei. For many hikers this reward is sufficient enough. Don’t forget your water and insect repellent.

View to Hanalei

To find Okolehao’s trailhead, cross the Hanalei Bridge and take the first left (Ohiki Road) alongside the Hanalei River. Drive about a mile to a small pedestrian bridge. There is a small, dirt parking lot adjacent to the trailhead.

Along the way you’ll see fields of taro. Nearly 60 percent of Hawaii’s taro is farmed in this valley. Poi is made from the root of this plant. You’ll also see many species of birds, including the endangered Hawaiian goose (Nene). This is Hawaii’s state bird.

The Okolehao Trail is named after the potent Hawaiian moonshine made from the roots of ti plants which are copious along the trail. Okolehao literally means”iron bottom,” and it is derived from the iron tools that were once commonly used by Hawaiians to distill the potent spirit.

After traversing the Okolehao trail you may need some of that moonshine yourself. But later, as you are soaking your muscles in the hot Jacuzzi, you will feel proud of your accomplishment and realize that you created a memory which will last a lifetime. Not to mention some fabulous photos.

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