Queens Bath Kauai

Exploring Queen’s Bath in Kauai

Imagine a trail where each step unveils a new adventure—from rugged paths to gentle waterfalls, from serene creek crossings to challenging terrains, all leading you to a breathtaking oceanfront vista. Queen’s Bath in Kauai offers just that, encapsulating an incredible variety of experiences within a mere 1.3km journey. It’s a natural marvel not to be missed, showcasing some of the best sights that Kauai has to offer!

What to know before you go

I don’t usually start a hike/trail with a warning, but it bears repeating. This trail and the activity of swimming in the pool do come with risks. The path is often very slippery, rocky, muddy, and heavily “rooted” – easy to twist an ankle, slip and fall or slide and break a bone. Beyond this, the actual pool itself has an entire ocean at its back, and it’s vital that you visit during low tide and NEVER stand up against the sea or have your back against it.

Swimming at Queens Bath

If you plan on swimming, please be sure to only swim at LOW TIDE.  High tide is when the bath is re-filled, and massive waves wash over the lava. It can be extremely dangerous during high tide. Swim at your own risk.

What time to visit?

Ther best time to visit Queen’s bath is in the summer months, typically from May through October. Winter months often bring high surf and strong currents, significantly increasing the risks of visiting this amazing spot.

If you can plan around the tides, you want to try and visit during low tide. Check the tides for Hanalei (one of the closest areas) before you go!

Besides being aware of the tides, arrive early in the morning or later in the evening. During the heat of the afternoon, the lava shelf can get extremely hot. Make sure you are wearing swim shoes or hiking shoes to traverse the terrain. It is jagged, hot, “root” covered and extremely slippery adventure in some areas!

Warning

There have been multiple fatalities in Queens Bath. The ocean is unforgiving, and it is up to you to be safe. Please heed all safety and warning signs and respect trail closures.

Respect the environment!

Adhere to posted local guidelines and respect the area to preserve this natural beauty for generations to come! Signs may be posted that the trail or area is closed. Please do not ignore these warnings!

As with any trail, stay on trail! It’s up to all of us to protect nature and protect our trails. Blazing new trails can cause erosion, impact the environment and cause harm or injury.

What to bring

This trail is a dangerous trail. You’re walking down steep descents, crossing rooted & muddy paths, and trekking over an ancient lava flow. Be prepared, and you will enjoy your hike and experience.

Sunscreen – Wear lots of sunscreen and sun-protective wear. The ocean reflects a lot of light at you, and it’s incredibly easy to get sunburned quickly! I recommend coral safe sunscreens.

Shoes – water shoes such as Keen work great. The trail starts extremely muddy in some sections and is walking along ancient lava flows in others. I wouldn’t recommend normal flip flips because of this.

Hiking Poles – Because the trail is so rooted and uneven, hiking poles can be a real advantage here. I may recommend using one pole, and one free hand vs. using two since having a hand free may be helpful. Check out our Hiking Pole Guide for all the details on them.

Nutrition – Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. The lava flows get hot during the day, and you will get parched whether you’re swimming or walking about.

Camera – You will want to capture photos! If you plan on snorkeling bring a waterproof action camera such as a GoPro

Snorkeling – If you plan on snorkeling in the pool, I recommend you bring a snorkel and mask. Leave your fins at home, they’re not needed while swimming in the pool.

You can rent snorkeling gear on the island or purchase it online. It’s an extremely affordable thing to do either way.

Planning your queens bath trail hike

Check the weather and the tides – especially if you plan to swim or snorkel.  I would advise against hiking the trail if it has recently rained or will rain. The Queen’s bath tide pool will change with the ocean tides. It will be much calmer at low tide. During high tide, waves will crash over the pool and the rocks leading up to the area.

Princeville Kauai Weather

Trailhead

Arrive early, parking at trailhead fills up quick. If the car park is full, do NOT park in the neighborhood or you will be towed. Park up at the golf resort and hike in.  I do not recommend just sitting there idling your engine for a while to park. You annoy everyone who must drive around you or the houses nearby that must listen and see and see the traffic jam. Treading lightly is also treating neighbors with respect. The trail entry is in the middle of a neighborhood.

Queens Bath Trailhead Parking

The trail may be gated with a big warning sign. Read and heed the warnings. If the gate is locked there really isn’t much to keep you out as you just follow the trail around it.

Navigating the trail to Queen’s Bath

Queen’s bath trail is a difficult trail with the quality of the trail entirely depending on the weather that winds itself down through to the lava cliffs of Kauai.  Queen’s bath is an appropriately named inlet that looks like a giant bathtub that you can explore and snorkel in.

The trail starts out on what can be a muddy and slippery slope. Depending on which section is open/cleared, if you start the trail after a morning rain shower then be prepared to wipe out on the slick mud or try and use some of the vines and plants to help give yourself stability.

Queens Bath Trail full of tropical plants
Queens Bath trail is covered by thick vegetation and tropical plants at the entrance

Once down the immediate entrance, the trail is just a “Washer board” trail – the only thing holding it together is its roots, and the roots are gnarly.  Wear shoes that can get muddy, give you traction, and are comfortable. You will be turning them red-orange and covering them in the mud unless you happen upon an arid day of hiking.

Queens Bath trail slippery and heavily rutted with the daily showers
More ruts than a trail, but still worth the hike!

I can’t speak to the ruts and roots enough. It’s about a kilometer of navigating them so be prepared!

Kauai Waterfalls

About halfway down the trail, you will come across some small waterfalls. I’m not sure if these are named or not. There are places on the path that you can pull over and get out of the way to sit and relax or take photos of the small falls. Here is one waterfall as seen from the upper section.

queens bath trail waterfall
Waterfall along Queens Bath Trail

From the photo above, you can see the ocean start to appear. The “rutted” / rooted trail isn’t much longer from this point, but it does have some steep spots that you may have to climb down backward, on or over downed trees.   Looking from this vantage point, you would take a left once you hit the beach to make it to the Queens Bath pool.

What are all these Pineapple looking plants in the trees?

Along the ocean, you may see some of these plants that look like big pineapples in the trees.  These aren’t pineapples growing in a big tree but are “Hala Plants.”

Hala Trees on queen's bath trail

Hala Plants are essential in Hawaiin history since the leaves were used in woven materials, the dried-out Hala plant segments were used as paintbrushes, and the fruits are super nutritious.  These plants were everywhere along the trail and ocean cliffs.

You will hike (and climb, depending on downed trees and such) through a Hola grove and notice their fascinating roots as well.

Queens Bath Hola Grove

Once you clear these Hola groves, the ocean will open into full view.

Ocean View

Here you will want to head left – there is no more real trail at this point. Safely navigate across the lava field.  One hint is to look out along the lava flow you, and you will see some poles sticking up that may or may not have warning signs on them – if you follow this poles that is the best route to Queens Bath. Do not ever turn your back against the ocean and do NOT get close to the cliff faces.  Rogue waves can happen and do happen at any time.

Ocean view from queens bath trail
Beautiful ocean view from Queens Bath Trail – This is not Queens Bath – do NOT swim here.

As you hike along you will see this pool – this is *not* the queen’s bath. Do NOT swim here. Just enjoy the waterfall into the ocean and look out for turtles. We saw a lot of huge sea turtles swimming in the mouth of this pool.

Once you pass this pool as you head north, be sure to look back – you will see the waterfall into the ocean. Such a beautiful view!

Before queens bath kauai

Queens Bath Pool

While this pool is known as the Queen’s bath, it is, unfortunately, not the real “Queens bath.” The real queen’s bath is along a river on the way to secret falls. We’ll share a post about that soon. I’m not sure how/why this got the same name, but the Queen of Hawaii bathed in a freshwater bath not here.

You will know you’re at queen’s bath pool when you see people swimming. It’s also MUCH tamer than the prior basins and inlets you may have passed on the way here. The pool is fed more gently by waves crashing over the lava rather than an entirely open face directly to the ocean.

The view from here is beautiful! I felt like I was transported back 250 million years to the time of dinosaurs as I looked out over the ocean into the distant jungle and tropical cliffs and mountains.

Queens Bath
Queens Bath – the pool in the lower left corner where people are swimming

While you’re at Queen’s bath – never climb or stand on the rocks along the ocean. While this place is beautiful beyond measure, it can be one of the most dangerous hikes in Kauai if you’re not careful. The sea isn’t forgiving.

Snorkeling at Queens Bath

What an awesome experience! There is so much variety of life in this small pool. Fish of all sizes, sea urchins and crabs swimming and crawling all around. I was surprised by the abundance of life in a single pool. It really has its own ecosystem there!

Here is some footage of the fish & wildlife in the pool – I was surprised how many fish were in the little pool.  Sorry about the shaky cam, we’ll try and upload a smoothed-out video shortly.

Warning

It bears repeating over and over – do NOT stand on the lava section at the front of the pool and especially never face your back to the ocean. During low tide, rogue waves can wash over you or wash you away.

Wrap Up

As we wrap up our journey through the stunning Queen’s Bath Trail in Kauai, it’s clear that this destination is much more than just a hike. It’s a thrilling adventure through diverse terrains, encompassing rugged pathways, tranquil waterfalls, and serene creek crossings, all leading to the awe-inspiring beauty of the oceanfront.

Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a curious traveler, Queen’s Bath offers a unique glimpse into the natural splendor of Kauai, making it a must-visit spot on your travel itinerary. Remember, the trail can be as dangerous as it is beautiful, so take heed of the safety tips discussed and always respect the power of nature.

We’d love to hear about your experiences and see your photos of this breathtaking place. Share your stories in the comments below or on our social media pages. Safe travels, and may your visit to Queen’s Bath be as enriching and memorable as the landscape is captivating. I can’t wait to get back to Princeville and explore Kauai more!

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Queens Bath Trail - Princeville Kauai

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