Kuilau Ridge Trail to Mt Waiʻaleʻale Viewpoint Hike

Kuilau Ridge Trail to Mt Waiʻaleʻale Viewpoint Hike

2-3 Hour Private Hiking Tour

Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Distance: 3 miles (round-trip)
$300 Private Hiking Tour for up to 4 guest / $75 for each additional guests
Private Hiking & Waterfall Swim $500
$125 for each additional guest

Note: When booking it will say "1" available which is for one private tour

This gentle trail is a nature lover's dream!


The word kuilau (koo-E-lau) means “to string together leaves or grass.” Plant fibers were used for everything from thatching roofs (pili grass huts) to making large sails for ocean voyaging canoes (from the hala [tree] leaf), so one might imagine that this lush trail originally got its name from native Hawaiians gathering and utilizing natural resources from the area.

After a quick stop at the roadside overlook to observe ‘O’paeka’a Falls, we drive deeper into the island’s verdant trailhead. Our hike begins as a gentle climb up a wide, well-maintained trail. The trail is lined with impressive Sydney blue gum trees (Eucalyptus saligna), which can grow over 150 feet tall, and the occasional smatterings of albizia trees, massive in girth and height.

As we make our way higher, views of several mountain ranges begin to emerge. On overcast days, we’ll still be rewarded with densely green views of the heavily foliated gulches that dominate the foreground; their abundant native and introduced plant species offer much to discover. These plants include wild orchids, ‘ohi’a lehua blossoms, hala and the la’i or ti plant (a popular material for making hula skirts, among many other uses).

At our turnaround point, there is a large open area with covered picnic tables and expansive views of Kahili Mountain to the south, Wai’ale’ale Mountain and Mount Kawi to the west and the Makaleha Mountains to the north.

Back at the arboretum, we will take a short stroll in an area dense with the widely popular, often photographed, “rainbow eucalyptus” trees (Eucalyptus deglupta). Time permitting, we will have the option of taking a quick dip in a cool mountain stream and/or walking up a small hill to once again look towards the majestic Wai’ale’ale Summit, statistically one of the wettest places on earth (averaging over 450 inches of rainfall annually; subsequently fully or partially concealed by clouds much of the time).

Waterfall Swim Add-On:

After a day of climbing, reward yourself with a cooling dip beneath a cascading waterfall. This add-on will add approximately 4 hours to the tour time. We also stop at one of several “ono” (tasty) local restaurants to refuel before continuing on to this final part of our adventure.

Diverse array of impressive native and non-native tree and plant species, including monkeypod, albezia and “rainbow eucalyptus”
View 151-foot Opaeka’a Falls
Expansive views of Kahili Mountain, Wai’ale’ale Mountain, Mount Kawi and Makaleha Mountains
Opportunities for bird watching

What to Know Before You Go
You must be able to walk on unpaved, uneven terrain, including slippery surfaces, mud, lava rocks, and loose beach sand.
Bring sandals and closed-toe shoes to account for the different types of terrain on which we will be hiking.
Maximum group size is 6 to limit the impact on the fragile marine environment.
You are expected to keep a safe distance from wildlife at all times.

Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge of the island with aloha. We delight in consistently exceeding expectations as we share beautiful Kauaʻi in a way most wouldn't dream possible. Tours are custom designed to meet your needs & interests.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why hire a guide?

Kauaʻi offers myriad hikes to choose from, whether you’re a beginner hiker or a veteran backpacker (or choose one of our driving tours!). We offer tours that are off the beaten track — ones that you might not know about otherwise. We can take you to stunning vistas, pristine beaches, cold running streams, and so much more!

​How do you know which trail to choose? Will you be safe? Will the hike be too easy or too hard? Will it be crowded? Do you have all the equipment you need? Will you get lost?

We don’t want you to worry while you’re on vacation! Leave it to the expert guidance found only at Kaua’i Hiking Tours — we will keep you safe, on the trail, and prepared with the appropriate equipment. Our guides know Kaua’i intimately and are trained to handle first aid and other safety concerns common on local trails. Beyond that, our guides will enrich your experience by teaching you about local history, flora & fauna — and, of course, by picking the perfect trail for your private group. It’s our job and passion to make sure you have the best possible experience while on Kaua’i!

Why should I choose Kaua'i Hiking Tours?

Of all the major Hawaiian Islands, Kaua’i scores the highest for hiking. That means you have a ton of great options, and likely, not enough time to explore…

​We know there are many adventure tour companies to choose from on Kaua’i, but most don’t specialize in hiking. Here at Kaua’i Hiking Tours, that’s what we do–we hike! Our guides are local hiking phenoms, scouring the island in their free time to find the best hikes for you. We study up on our local history, nature, and wildlife, and we make sure our safety certifications are up to date. We’re one of the only hiking companies on Kaua’i that is a member of the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau and permitted by both the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and State of Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to lead tours on state land; and transport passengers in our vehicles. That means we are safe, always prepared, and take our work seriously. Relax, you’re on vacation. Leave the planning to us!

What makes Kaua'i Hiking Tours unique?

Ever an “island conscious” company, we keep in mind how our actions now will affect Kaua’i’s precious natural and cultural resources for years to come. We are one of only three Kauaʻi tour companies certified as a “Sustainable Tour Operator” through the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaiʻi’s stringent certification process.

What types of tours do you offer?

Not just hiking – in addition to day hikes (from beginner-advanced), we also offer several types of “hands-on” cultural tours, picturesque driving tours, all-inclusive multi-day tours, and other island adventure activities tours. Thereʻs something for everyone, from those who want to pack on the miles, to those that prefer a more laid-back experience, without missing out on any of the “epicness.”

Tours range in length from 2 – 10+ hours (or more, if you’re looking for an overnight tour). Tour times are from pick-up to drop-off. Most hiking tours include a driving tour and driving tours include the option to take a short hike. For more information, check out our Tours page.

What do your tours cost? Is a tip required?

We offer a wide range of custom tours with prices that range in cost from $60 – $195/person. Most private tours are priced per group of 4; however there is no minimum amount of people required for these tours.

Private groups with more than 4 people are charged an additional per person fee equal to, or less than, the per person price for that tour. We offer individual traveler discounts and/or will group you with other solo travelers when possible.

Tipping is encouraged, but not required. If you enjoyed your tour, say thank you to your guide with a tip. A customary tip for adventure tour guides is 15-20%.

Can you accommodate large private groups?

Yes, we offer large group tours! We understand how much pressure there can be to satisfy everyone, which is why we’re here to help you out. Perhaps you’re visiting the island with young children and grandparents, or there may be several families who all want to do a hike together. We can put together a hike that suits your group, and we can provide multiple hiking guides, if necessary.


Is transportation provided?

Yes, in most cases transportation is provided. On some occasions we will arrange for you to meet your guide at the trailhead. We can accommodate up to 4 people in most of our SUV-style vehicles, 14 in our Ford E-350 XLT van.

Where do we meet before the tour?

We meet at the trailhead or at a centralized location between where you are staying and where the tour will be. A Motor Carrier Certificate is required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to transport passengers on public roads. Our certificate number is 3611-C and it is approved for both the 1 – 7 and 8 – 25 passenger classifications.


What equipment will I need?

Equipment needs depend on the tour you book. Within 24 hours of purchasing your hike, a trip-specific list of recommended equipment, aka “gear list,” will be included in your confirmation email. If you don’t have something on the gear list, don’t worry! Let your guide know, we will find a way to make it work (we have a stockpile of “lender gear”).

Your guide will carry a well-stocked first aid kit, extra sunscreen, extra water, and bug spray, and hike specific safety equipment as needed. Please keep in mind that the weather on Kaua’i is localized and changes often. Additionally, the temperature is generally about 15 degrees colder in Kōkeʻe and Waimea Canyon State Park(s) than on the coast. For this reason, we request that you heed the gear list and do your best to prepare accordingly.

What about food? Is it provided? What should I pack? Is there somewhere we can stop?

Every tour is different in this regard. Our shorter tours will be done before noon, so you will just need to pack water and some snacks. Typically we do not provide food due to the variety of unique dietary needs and food preferences. However, all of our tours include tasty snacks and/or seasonal local fruit. Our vehicles will have extra drinking water and coolers for guests to use. For most of our hikes, you will also have the option of pre-ordering “grindz” (food [Hawaiian pidgin English]) to go from an “ono” (delicious, tasty) local establishment. For hikes to Waimea Canyon & Koke’e State Park(s) you can call ahead and order food & drink to go from Little Fish Coffee (opens @ 6:30 am M – F, 8 am Weekends) in historic Hanapepe

What happens if the weather is bad?

Rain is the reason the garden isle is so lush, it often provides dynamic picture taking opportunities and blesses us with an ample supply of rainbows! Tours operate rain or shine, except in the most extreme cases. Keep in mind that just because it’s raining where you are, doesn’t mean it will be raining where your tour will be, and vice-versa. The good news: fun can be had regardless, there is still plenty to see and experience regardless of the islands mood! Additionally, rain showers are often localized and usually do not last long.

We encourage you to keep an open mind and a positive attitude regarding rain. Our guides are better than most at studying and predicting island weather but, alas, we are not full-on weather genies, yet. Rescheduling to another day is often a fool’s errand as the weather on this island is notoriously unpredictable. Leading up to your tour your guide will update you on the weather situation and tour possibilities. If your tour is in jeopardy of being cancelled, we will contact you as soon as possible. If we decide to cancel your tour (this is rare), you will have the option to reschedule for another day or be given a full refund.

What's the cancellation policy?

You may cancel up until 5 days before your tour starts. No cancellations, changes or refunds can be made within 5 days of your tour, but we will attempt to reschedule you if possible. Cancellations made more than 5 days before the start of the tour may be subject to a 10% service charge.

Heather O wrote a review
Solana Beach, California
Beautiful hike and knowledgeable guide
We did the Kuilau Ridge Jungle Trail to Mount Wai'ale'ale Viewpoint hike in mid December and it was a fantastic experience. Our guide had was knowledgeable, helpful, and to top it off had a great sense of humor! Coordinating and find the meet up spot was straight-forward. A bonus was that the weather cooperated and the trail was relatively dry. Next time we go, I'd like to try a "choose your own adventure" tour with this tour group.

Sarah A wrote a review
Local knowledge made this hike more than just stunning views!
Jess was such a fantastic guide on the Kuilau Ridge Trail. Her enthusiasm was infectious and her knowledge of native Hawaiian and invasive plants was extensive. I learnt so much but not too much that it was overwhelming. Jess was patient and more than happy for us to hike at our own pace.
This is a fantastic way to meet like minded travelers and to gain a hiking buddy when your travelling solo like I am.
The whole experience was effortless, thank you Jeremiah and the team for a fantastic day out. It truly made Kauai that little more special.