Hike to Turtle Cave

Princeville, Hawaii

3.8/5
based on 8 reviews

Details

Distance

0.75 miles

Elevation Gain

62 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Dan Deublein

Repel down the cliffs of Kauai to visit a cave inhabited by sea turtles! 

Turtle Cave is located within a small bay on the Princeville side of Kauai. This hike requires swimming, repelling down a steep cliff and potentially high tides.  This particular access point is located on private property, so you should be staying in one of the rentals or traveling with a guest. 

When you turn right on Edward Rd, make your second left just before the dead end. You will want to park towards the end of the parking lot and walk between buildings 3 & 4 towards the ocean. 

Look for a sign that says "Warning High Surf Below" and this is where the dirt trail begins. The initial hike is along a red dirt path with minimal descent. As you continue, the trail morphs into an extremely rocky path requiring the use of existing ropes to repel downward. 

As you reach the bottom, you will need to boulder over several rocks until you see the opening face of the cave. Be sure to look for sea turtles as they are often swimming in the bay area if not sleeping inside - hence, the name Turtle Cave! 

You must be able to assess the tide and your ability to reach the cave. DO NOT attempt this during high tide or during the winter months. During the summer, you can typically swim or even wade up to the beach. 

Once you reach the beach, begin exploring the cave and be on the watch for turtles. If you are lucky enough to see the turtles, just remember they are protected by state and federal laws, which prohibit you from approaching them. 

Continue towards the back of the cave which slightly bends to reveal a second opening to the ocean. This is why you may also hear the term "Two Headed Turtle Cave". When you are finished enjoying this incredible adventure, simply return the way you came. 

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Features

Fitness
Rock Climbing
Chillin
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Diving
Beach
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Kdndndnd

That sign warning is accurate. The trail down at the end of Edward Rd is treacherous to say the least. Not only must you grab hold of vines and a small rope to repel the slippery slope, but the mosquitoes will feast on you on the way down. Going anyway? Ok, it is beautiful once down. The cove and cave are spectacular! Fortunately I did not go back up the same way. About a hundred yards or so east of the Edwards trail just past a waterfall you will see a trail leading back up. No repelling, no slipping. A bonus is you will pass a beautiful waterfall with a nice little pool to soak in. A secret the locals would not like leaked, so shhhhh! By the way, I am 70, so don’t let your age stop you from experiencing the beauty of this place.

The hike down can be a bit slippery especially if it’s raining and you have to swim a tiny bit to get to the cave, but definitely worth seeing. However if your aim is to see the turtles you have to go at night. I went around 10 pm and there were at least 6-7 turtles there sleeping. Bring a headlight but try your best to not disturb them as they are protected endangered animals.

First, we wondered if we should visit this place given the few scare-tactic reviews. Then, we realized these reviewers had 1 review and had the intention of scaring people into not visiting this beautiful place. With that being said, this is a very doable adventure. We were able to easily climb down the path and there were only two places where we needed to use the establish ropes, which were there for safety. The only danger I can see is during a high tide, which you shouldn't attempt to visit the cave. We were able to enter the cave safely and to our surprise there was one large turtle resting. This is was a rare moment and we exercised a very high level of respect for the turtle. We didn't approach it nor did we take any photos, we just appreciated its presence. The climb out was easy, though if it rains I can see how it would be a little slick. Again, I am sure the locals and those that live nearby don't want the public traveling here, but it is a public place so they should accept that fact.

We decided to check this hike out as it looked fun. But we got there to be greeted by some not so friendly locals. We went anyways. My wife fell off the rock on the “repel” and bruised her hip. She had a very hard time getting out. No turtles were there and you about drown getting to the caves. Not recommended.

I put the pin into my Apple Maps app and had absolutely no trouble finding the trailhead. I also had zero trouble descending to the cave. I could see that it may be treacherous if it was wet/muddy, but if you hold onto the ropes you will be fine. The only thing I would say is to be mindful of both the people staying at the Ali'i Kai resort (as they are paying to be there), but more importantly if you're lucky enough to encounter sea turtles do not harass them. This is their natural habitat and we don't want to ruin it for them!

Update: I think we took the wrong trail! Note: do NOT take the trail directly behind the warning sign at the turn-around at the end of Edward Rd. The directions listed here say to take a "second left" after turning onto Edward Rd., but there is no second left (just one), so I'm not sure where the proper trailhead starts. ----- I am an experienced hiker/backpacker and a total risk-taker, but this "trail" should not be attempted without ropes and climbing gear. I took some buddies there yesterday and there were no existing ropes to help us down - only tree roots. After 20 minutes or so of a super unsafe descent, I called it and we turned back for a super unsafe ascent. I can't imagine attempting this after a rain. My advice: DO NOT GO WITHOUT CLIMBING GEAR.

So just wanted to mention to anyone that finds this cave to be mindful that the animals you find here are endangered and the more people who find out and start to frequent this place, the more likely you'll push them out of this safe haven they have from predators and human habitat destruction. The locals are serious about keeping this place a secret from the growing number of tourists so if you do post photos or find out how to get there they have asked that you keep from tagging where this place is and telling more people how to get there. This is an extremely special place and preserving it would be the top priority.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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