There are many ways to experience the beauty of Kauai, the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii. One low-key option for taking in the scenery is bike riding. Two wheels allow you to enjoy views at your own pace, and when it comes to traveling with kids, setting the pace is important.
UPDATE: This post was first written in 2020 and has been updated in July 2023 to reflect the closure of Nom Kauai.
Where to rent bikes on Kauai
We rented our adult and kid-sized bikes in Kapaa. There is no shortage of places to rent, and you don’t have to reserve them ahead of time. We biked during the busy holiday season and had no problem walking up to rent bikes for a group of eight.
You’ll find bikes will be a little less expensive if you rent them in town versus on the outskirts of town near the trail. Bike rentals should come with a helmet, though, they say it’s optional for adults.
(Get the helmet)
We opted for seven-speed bikes with hand brakes. We didn’t get heavy duty mountain bikes or sleek road bikes, so I can’t vouch for the ease of renting those. Be sure to thoroughly look over each bike before starting your ride. We discovered one of our kids’ bikes didn’t shift gears properly.
Beginner bike trail on Kauai
If you haven’t been to Kauai, it’s important to know that this island is traversed by few roads, which are almost always filled with cars. I’m talking legit traffic jams (but at least the views nice, right?).
So, when I talk about bike riding on this island, I’m not talking about commuting by bikes. I saw some brave souls do this, even a few with kids in tow, but for my kiddos, we stuck to a paved trail. If you’re a beginner when it comes to biking, it’s just as important to find an easy trail when exploring an unfamiliar place.
We were very happy with the terrain found along the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Trail, more commonly known as the Kapaa Bike Path. This stunning 7.3-mile trail is incredibly kid-friendly, with wide paths and postcard vistas.
Where to start on the Kapaa Bike Trail
As it turns out, the Kapaa Trail will eventually be even longer. I’ll first tell you about the section we biked. Leaving from the eastern edge of Kapaa, we biked north on the trail. The views were gorgeous! We biked past beaches (way too rough to consider dipping our feet into the water).
We also biked past a former banana plantation where we took in the awe-inspiring view of the rough surf. It’s the stop known as “Pineapple Dump.” It’s a very short route, but we were biking with kids as young as 7 and it was starting to warm up a bit too much. (The route is not shaded)
You will pass by beaches on this trail, including Fuji Beach and Kealia Beach. We were riding in the heart of winter, so the waves were a bit too high for us. The north end of the trail, you’ll encounter Donkey Beach.
Had we gone the opposite direction, we would have written past a busier area, past the bustling town of Kaapa. The good thing about that southern route is that there are places to stop along the way that might involve, say, getting shave ice to cool off.
This trail will eventually connect to a trail that passes by Lydgate Park. I wish we had time to visit that part of the trail – there is a great playground there for kids. It’s also known for the keiki beach.
Tips for biking this Kauai trail
These tips are good for those biking with and without kids.
- There are a few restrooms along the trail with running water and water fountains. They are found at:
- Kealia Kai
- Kealia Beach
- Kapaa Park
- Lihi Park & Wai’Kaea Boat Harbor
- Speaking of water, bring a lot of it. We only brought two refillable water bottles for the four of us and that was a terrible idea. Water fountains on the route can be found at Kealia Kai, Kealia Beach, and Lihi Park.
- The trail is not shaded, and there aren’t many covered rest stops, so put on sunscreen.
- If you’re planning on biking in the spring, I recommend this helpful list of what to expect when visiting Hawaii in April.
- Kauai is buggy, so if you plan on stopping to check out the views, put on bug spray. Or, you may be like me, and get bit whether you’re moving or not, so just put on bug spray to be safe.
- You’ll notice signs at some parts along the trail indicating where falling rocks may be encountered. Just keep biking and you’ll be fine. Don’t stop to test out the durability of the fragile cliffs.
- The trail is not hilly nor do you cross many busy streets (though you do ride past beach parking lot entrances). Still, it’s good to practice safe biking, so wear a helmet.
- More good trail practices to note:
- Bike on the right-hand side of the trail.
- Announce your presence when you’re coming up behind a walker or runner.
- Pass pedestrian and slower bikers by passing them on the left-hand side. I always say “Biker on your left.”
Treats after your Kauai bike ride
Kapaa is a vibrant little town for food options, especially along Kuhio Highway. Right by the trail, near where we rented bikes, we encountered a collection of food trucks. If you’re hungry, you can get your lunch there.
Or if you just want a cold treat, there was a shave ice truck. If you aren’t familiar with this Hawaii treat, it’s pretty popular (and definitely not called shaved ice…or a snow cone). We got our shave ice at the Shave Ice Tege Tege food truck.
On the day of our bike ride, we got started late and, thus, had a late lunch. We went to Olympic Cafe located at 1354 Kuhio Highway. This open-air restaurant is good for big groups, and it’s pretty kid-friendly.
More Kauai Adventures
Stay tuned for future blog posts about Kauai, Hawaii! In the next few weeks, I share details about hidden gems you’ll love to discover for yourself if you visit the island. While you wait, go ahead and get some travel inspiration with the Kauai Bucket List.