Bike the Coconut Coast aka Ke Ala Hele Makalae
For a rare touring treat try getting out of your car to explore the elements safely under your own pedal power on the paved Ke Ala Hele Makalae bike path along Kauai's windward coast. Bicycling merges leisure with exercise to create an engaging way to spend a day, slowing down and enjoying the ride along the windswept coconut coast.
At a glance:
Highlights: Riding along the coastal path removed from car noise, the ocean sliding along beside you as you pedal to remote coastal vistas and pause for pictures.
Activity level: Moderate, path is level from start to finish
Location: Kapaa, Kauai
Options: Rent a bike by the day or hour, go solo, or on a tandem. Bike trailers and kid boosters for rent as well. A good family activity for ages 8 and up.
Hazards!: Portions of the bike path are along cliffs of 10 to 30 foot drop off, the path is set back but awareness of these edges should be highlighted to your young peddlers or those of your crew who may be uncoordinated.
- $8.50 an hour to $20 for the day for single speed cruisers
- $10.75 per hour to $30 for the day for 7 speeds
- $16 per hour to $45 day for tandems
- $7 per hour kids accessories, trailers, trainers
Biking the coast brings you into a different awareness of the natural elements, the wind and waves take over the soundscape, and the road that seems ever present in your vacation is left behind. The Ke Ala Hele Makalae multi-use path is a 4.1 mile paved trail along the oceanfront that is separated from the roadway, increasing the safety and ability to relax while you enjoy the scenery. The perfect place to get into some exercise with pauses on sandy beaches and picnic shelters along the way.
The classic beach cruiser is the perfect choice for this adventure. Though for customizing your bike options each bike rental shop has many choices of different geared bikes and even tandems to choose from. When you pick out the bike from the rental site, make sure you get the seat and handle bars adjusted and take a short pedal to test your gear before you embark on your journey. This will make your biking experience way more comfortable. A carrying basket and bike lock are good supplies to add from the shop before you pedal off.
Unlike many of the other island activities you might find, cruiser bike rentals can be acquired with little or no preparation and can occur around the leisure and flexibility of your schedule. This is a major bonus when other activities might cancel or need to reschedule you. Biking can fit easily as part of a day around other vacation activity options.
Leaving Kapaa town heading north the path winds along the coast at a 30 foot elevation above lava rock formations and pounding surf. Eventually the path runs along the backside of Kealia Beach and turns up the coast for over a mile of raw coastline and green hills until you reach Kanu Bay, also known as "Donkey's Beach".
This is a great beachcomber location, but do not attempt to swim as the ocean rip currents are famously dangerous here. The biking time to reach this end of the trail is about 30 to 45 minutes one way.
The path runs along the buffer zone between the coastline and the small Kapaa condos and shops. A grassy park surrounds the path and there are numerous picnic benches and rest areas. The bottom end of the pathway reaches Lihi Park, and by using bike lanes you can explore the town center or link toward the path extension in Lydgate Beach Park.
Morning sun on the windward coconut coast is the best, get an early start and rent your bikes when the rental shops open at 9 a.m. Head north to Kealia Beach, then further if you feel the biking groove. When you get hungry, bike to the south end of bike path and grab a bite with the ease of "bike parking". A backpack with snacks, sunscreen, shade hat that can stay on in the wind, camera, sunglasses, and drinking waters etc. are recommended for making this adventure most enjoyable.
Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path link:
Bike Rentals with Coconut Coasters:
At the northern end of Kapaa, on the Kuhio Highway aka HI-route 56. "Coconut Coasters" is adjacent to the Kapaa Community Center at Kou Street which is on ocean side of the road.