Riding on Kauai

Anyone have experience with paved riding on the Island of Kauai?

Headed there in January and I’ve heard mixed opinions in regards to how safe road riding is. General concern is narrow roadways that are overly busy.

Staying in Poipu, would like to get a handful of 2-6 hour rides in. Likely will make it a point to ride up Waimea Canyon, but beyond that I’d love some advice/experiences!

Like most small islands there is really only 1 road around the island. There are neighborhoods but most are a 1 road in and 1 road out. From Poipu you can go up the canyon or out to Barking Sands. The road dead ends because of the Napali Coast. Going the other way will take you thru some busy towns. There is traffic always. Tourist want to drive to Hanalei bay and the end of the road. Also the lighthouse. If I was to ride I would try non commute times. Oh and there is HI580. An off shoot of the main hwy. Fun stuff i did was mountain bike out of Princeville up a jeep road towards the top of the mountain.
Last time I was there the sushi place in Hanalei bay above the store was still the best.
Have fun.

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I’m pretty seasoned with riding on Maui, but 100% there, if the road is narrow, it’s nowhere near busy.

Given our 4 hour time difference, and me being a morning person anyway, I’d likely be on the bike right about sunrise.

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We’ve gone to Poipu for a week or so in Feb/March for a few years and I’ve brought my road bike each time. Done rides up to the Nepali coast, and the other way up to Waimea canyon.

I’ve pretty much sworn off ever bringing my bike again because it’s so dangerous, imho…which sucks because it’s beautiful and even when it rains it’s not that cold. We’re going again in February and I think I’ll bring running shoes and maybe my spds and do a few workouts on the bike in the gym to keep fitness.

There’s a terrible combination of tourists in rental cars clogging up the roads while sightseeing, frustrated locals (and delivery/construction trucks) with somewhere to be who are being held up by tourists in rental cars, and random methheads that ignore all traffic laws and will just drive the shoulder or opposite direction or whatever they feel like.

There are some nice stretches of roads, but to connect anything to make a decent ride you have to use the main highway and it has a narrow shoulder with rumble strips that pinch you into narrow bridges with no shoulder and overgrowing vegetation…and everyone’s doing 55+ or pissed that they’re not doing 55+. I was starting rides before sunrise too, so really trying to avoid peak afternoon traffic.

Last year I tried to do some outside TR workouts on the roads to the east of Poipu cause there’s a nice grade climb there and this tunnel tree thing. Absolutely chaos of cars whizzing by at 50+mph giving you maybe 2ft of space if you’re lucky. Waimea canyon is a little calmer and it feels way safer down there, but it’s definitely a tourist trap and everyone who has a rental car on the island is going up and down that thing to go for a 1 mile hike in the rain at the top and there’s effectively no shoulder on the whole road.

Maui has wider roads with much better shoulders, but the same systemic problem of tourists in rental cars, locals and methheads.

Sorry to sound so negative.

That’s what the majority of the roads are like there, and often there’s rumble strips right inside the white line.


There may be some off road or gravel options that I did not find, but other than Waimea canyon it seems pretty sketch. I’m used to riding narrow roads with no shoulder and traffic and Kauai was pushing my comfort level, We stayed in Princeville and riding across the Kalihwai bridge in traffic was dangerous AF. I would go to a different island to ride or plan some other activities on Kauai.


I’ve logged ~2k miles on Maui, can’t recall ever having a close call there. But I’m usually riding bike in places most tourists don’t go.

this isn’t a riding trip, I’ll bring my Feedback Omnium, but was hoping it wouldn’t be needed.

On the road to Hana I watched a methhead in a rusted out sedan pass about 10 cars through numerous blind corners while going 30+mph. Pure luck no one was coming the other way.

I’ve probably ridden 500 miles on Maui, and I consider it way safer than Kauai. Road quality, road width, weather, traffic are all substantially better. Haleakala is 10x cooler/safer than anything on Kauai.


its been decades, but my vague recollection is that Kauai is a beautiful small island and even smaller roads. My first trip was in 1991 during the total eclipse of the sun, and I was on a biz trip helping to define what became WiFi :metal: Not a bad gig if you can get it LOL

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what does the strava heat map look like?

I was in Kauai this summer and my form was tip top after completing a massive, multi-day event in Colorado. However, my wife made me leave the bike at home which made me Hulk-angry. But once I arrived, Bruce Banner realized that Kauai is an unsafe place to do multi-hour road rides.

Find 2-6 hour vigorous hikes to replace your 2-6 hour vigorous rides. Make sure to bring hiking shoes with an actual mid-sole plate rather than just trail runners since the volcanic rock is unforgiving. And say hi to all the chickens for me.


I’ve been to Kauai a couple times and the 2 biggest take aways -
It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world
It’s got terrible traffic, I’d never ride my road bike there

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Boo! It hurts my heart to have to ride the trainer in Hawaii!:rofl::sob:

I’ve ridden my bike a lot in Kauai though all before COVID, so this is based on those experiences. The roads can be intimidating in places I guess, but I’ve never found it too bad if you’re smart about route planning. That may be more a reflection of me and what I’m used to riding though.

You do need to be a bit wise though, as there are some narrow roads with high speed limits which, when traffic is heavy, I would not recommend going on.

For example, rush hour traffic from people commuting between Lihue and Kalaheo can make the few short narrow stretches of 50 bad. Even if you do end up riding it during rush hour I never found it prohibitive though, just unenjoyable.

Don’t ride the tree tunnel road from Poipu to 50. And if you insist, make sure it’s during low traffic hours with good visibility. Still don’t recommend though. To get from Poipu to hwy 50, take Omao road instead of 520 or 530. 530 is not as bad as tree tunnel though, but Omao road is still usually preferable.

Waimea Canyon Park is great. But don’t take 550 the whole way. Skip the bottom part by taking Kokee road instead.

Never had any issues once you’re counter-clockwise of Lihue. I’ve ridden all the way out to Ha’ena. Did need to hitchhike back but that’s a separate story.

There are some fun short punchy climbs around Lawaii and then between Kapa’a and the Wailua homesteads.

Try and take some of my KOMs :wink:

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Currently on vacation in Kauai and staying around Poipu. I miss trainer road, but I don’t miss not having a road bike here. The roads/traffic here wouldn’t make it pleasant.

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