5 Things you Need to Know Before Visiting Maha'ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail in Kauai

Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail in Kauai is located in near The Grand Hyatt Poipu Resort & Spa. We found the Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail while visiting Shipwreck Beach. The trail starts in Shipwreck Beach, follows along the rocky cliffs, and past a golf course. We parked in the Grand Hyatt’s free parking, made our way through the hotel to the beach.  The beach is in front of The Grand Hyatt and was named after a small wooden boat that sat on the beach for many years.  

We saw people diving from the cliffs, but unless you are a good swimmer I would not recommend. The beach is well known for surfing, bodyboarding, windsurfing and turtle watching.   It isn’t the best for swimming because of the rocky sand and strong currents pulling you towards the cliffs.  We just dipped in to cool off before our hike.

Hiking, Surfing and Swimming

The Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail is a 2-mile hike along the sandy cliffs and limestone rock coastline which overlooks the crashing waves below. The views are spectacular!! We found this hike to be one of the most memorable of our trip.  We came across a spot along our hike where we could climb down the rocky cliffs to the ocean and put our feet in the water. One of the things we loved about this trail was the lack of people; we felt as if we had the area to ourselves, even the beach was relatively empty.  Halfway through our hike, we climbed down the embankment to go swimming in a deserted cove. Be careful, the limestone rock is sharp, so definitely wear shoes.  Our trip was in September, and it was quite hot due to the lack of shade, so there are a few things to be aware of before visiting this area.

Our Beautiful Hike!

Walk along the trail with us to get an idea of the Beautiful Landscape and Ocean Views

Tips when visiting Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail

  • Bring plenty of water!!  Like I said earlier, you will be hiking in the sun most of the time.  Our hike was cut a bit short because I only had SPF 4 suntan “oil” for my husband to use, so he was a hot, sweaty mess!! Next time I will bring lotion instead of the oil version. This trail goes several miles along the cliffs, by Poipu Bay Golf Course and the stables, Maha’ulepu caves and finally ending at Waioli Stream.  It’s a good idea to use “reef safe sunscreen” to protect the coral.
  • Park for free at The Grand Hyatt Poipu Resort & Spa.  You can either valet park or park in their self-parking as you enter to the left. Then walk through the hotel lobby, out through their gorgeous pool area, and head to the left towards the ocean where you will come to the beach. The trail is not marked, but if you head to the left, you will come to the edge of the beach where you can walk through the trees up the hill to the trail.  I highly suggest dipping in the ocean before heading out on the hike.  If you’re interested in checking hotel prices in Kauai click here.
  • Hiking/Water shoes are a good idea!!  We used our hiking shoes every day during this trip.  Although they are not necessarily needed on this hike, we were glad we wore them because some areas are rocky and it allowed us to climb down the hillside to get into the water.  The shoes I love are Teva.
  • Make sure you bring your camera.  Taking pictures is one of our favorite things to do during our trips, especially when the views are truly breathtaking and we want to remember every moment of the experience.  If you are into photography or just taking gorgeous pictures, you will not want to miss this trail. Many couples have taken their wedding pictures or gotten married at this location because of the beautiful background and views. Joel used his GoPro and drone to take video in this blog post.
  • Be careful if you decide to cliff dive!!  The cliff where we saw people diving was close to 40 feet high.  The cliff jump area is located on the left side of the beach towards the end of the cliff if you’re looking towards the ocean.  Be aware of the surf and depth of the water before diving, as there could be submerged rocks and a strong undercurrent depending on the conditions.  We talked to a local who told us if the water is rough it can be challenging to get back to the shore. We are not cliff jumpers; however, they were fun to watch. Word of advice, make sure the conditions are right before you take that plunge off the cliff!!


If you are looking for another gorgeous hike in Kauai, check out our blog and video on Queen’s Bath. We highly recommend it. Click here



Closing Words

If you are interested in seeing the video of our Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail experience, it’s on this blog post. I hope you found our tips to be useful and you are excited to visit Shipwreck Beach and the Coastal Trail.  Feel free to pass on your experiences when visiting this beach or trail; we’d love to hear from you!

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