The State Parks of Kauai

Kauai is home to five state parks: Polihale, Koke’e, Waimea Canyon, Wailua River, and Ha’ena State Parks. In addition, Kauai is home to the Napali Coast Wilderness Park, the Ahukini & Waimea State Recreational Pier’s as well as the Pa’ula’ula State Historic Site. Each is well worth exploring. Hawaiʻi is the most remote archipelago on earth.  Our reputation for unsurpassed natural beauty can be found in each of Hawaii’s State Parks. Hawaii’s State Park System is composed of fifty-one state parks encompassing approximately 30,000 acres on five of the major islands. These parks offer a variety of outdoor recreation and educational heritage opportunities. The park environments range from landscaped grounds with developed facilities to wildland areas with trails and primitive facilities. The outdoor recreation program offers a diversity of coastal and wildland recreational experiences, including picnicking, camping, lodging, ocean swimming, snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing, beach play, fishing, sightseeing, hiking, pleasure walking, and backpacking. The heritage program protects, preserves, and interprets excellent examples of Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural heritage. The exceptional scenic areas are managed for their aesthetic values while vantage points are developed for their superb views of our Hawaiian landscape.

We invite you to experience Hawaii’s special environment, learn more about its unique history, and participate in outdoor recreational opportunities by visiting our parks. But these uniquely Hawaiian resources are fragile and irreplaceable resources for future generations. Now let us brave down a long and rutted road to the Polihale State Park knowing that the stunning beach park is at the end. There are no updates of when the road will be paved, as it still is unpaved. Picnicking and tent camping on a wild coastline with large sand beach backed by dunes. Scenic setting, colorful sunsets, and good views of the high sea cliffs of Napali Coast. Swimming in summer during calm conditions; shore fishing. Beware of strong, offshore currents and hot, dry areas.

Koke’e State Park offers commanding views of the lush amphitheater headed Kalalau Valley from four thousand feet elevation. Wildland picnicking, tent camping and lodging. Hiking in native rain forest and along rim of Waimea Canyon; added trails in neighboring forest reserves. Excellent area for observation of native plants, forest birds and insects. Seasonal plum picking and trout fishing. Pig hunting in public hunting area only.

The Waimea Canyon State Park overlooks one of the State’s scenic treasures – the deep, colorful gorge of Waimea Canyon and the majestic Kalalau Valley. The park consists of a scenic drive, lookouts of the canyon, Kalalau Valley and a viewpoint of Niihau Island. There are also many stops and opportunities for wildland picnicking and hiking trails. Adjacent forest reserves with long, strenuous hikes into and out of the canyons and valleys. There is seasonal trout fishing, pig and seasonal goat hunting nearby.

Wailua River State Park is lush river valley with riverboat cruise (fee charged) to Fern Grotto, an unusual fern-covered cave set in a tropical garden; scenic vistas of attractive waterfalls Opaeka‘a Falls and Wailua Falls and the Wailua River Valley. The Wailua Complex of Heiau (National Historic Landmark)–remains of heiau (places of worship), pu’uhonua (places of refuge), and birthstones at this once important seat of chiefly power in old Hawaiʻi. Picnicking in riverside coconut grove; and dining and gift shopping at Wailua Marina. Ha’ena State Park is located at the northwestern extent of Kuhio Highway on Kauai’s north-shore at the very end of the only road on Kauai. The park offers viewing areas of restored lo’i kalo (taro field, as well as the spectacular Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  The park also offers beach-related activities including shore fishing and snorkeling and swimming at Ke’e Beach.  Ha’ena is also home to the trailhead of the world-famous Kalalau Trail at 11 miles, as well as Hanakapiai Falls trail at 4 miles.

The Napali Coast State Wilderness Park is one of the most recognizable and beautiful coastlines in the world. An incredibly special place. The pali, or cliffs, supply a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms were Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro. The Napali Coast is a special place. The pali, or cliffs, supply a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths.

Ahukini State Recreational Pier is situated at mouth of the Hanama’ulu Stream. It consists of a cement pier with a wooden walkway located where the stream meets the Pacific Ocean. Ahukini Pier is an excellent place for pole fishing and crab netting. The site also offers opportunities for viewing the scenery of Hanama’ulu Bay. Hanama’ulu Bay is a State Fishery Management Area (FMA) and therefore strict regulations on spear fishing and net fishing apply to the area. Waimea State Recreational Pier is open for ocean pier fishing and picnicking, with pole fishing (restrictions) and crabbing only.

Pa’ula’ula State Historic Site is located on slopes at the ocean opening of the Waimea River, once known as the Russian Fort Elizabeth. It is a National Historic Landmark and was administered as the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park just southeast of present-day Waimea on the island of Kauai. It is located at the site of the former Fort Elizabeth, the last remaining Russian fort on the Hawaiian Islands, built in the early 19th century by the Russian American Company as the result of an alliance with High Chief Kaumualii. The star fort was employed by the Kingdom of Hawaii in the 19th century under the name Fort Hipo (Hawaiian: Pa’ula’ula o Hipo).

Hawaii’s environment is unique, diverse, and fragile. Our resources are some of the most endangered in the world. This means we must all do our part to help sustain Hawaii’s valuable resources. Please be a good visitor and pick up your litter, pack out what you pack in, do not damage the plants, animals, historic sites, and reefs as these resources are crucial elements of Hawaii’s past and our future.