Picturesque Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge peninsula and lighthouse. What everyone sees when they arrive.
The Crater Hill trailhead is located on a bluff above Kilauea Point peninsula, with sweeping sea-to-mountain vistas of Kauai's north shore.
The hike ascends Crater Hill gradually.
As we emerge from a stand of ironwood trees, we arrive at Crater Hill's first scenic lookout …
… perched on the ledge of a several-hundred-foot-high sea cliff overlooking a hidden cove.
A white sand beach in the cove, accessible only by sea, sits empty.
Roiling winter surf , bright with foam, crashes into the sea cliff walls.
The sea cliffs of Crater Hill.
Two stone sentinels on the precipice of the Crater Hill sea cliffs seem to stare at one another. Here's one …
… and here's the other.
A view of the Kauai's north shore mountains as we begin the half-hour trek further up Crater Hill towards its second lookout.
The view behind us, of Kauai's north shore, as we continue our ascent.
The trail ends at a second lookout at the top of Crater Hill.
Stepping onto the lookout platform.
Perched on the highest point of the sea cliffs between the peninsulas, the vistas from the second lookout are even more breathtaking. We get a better view here of Mokolea Point reaching into the ocean.
The view back toward the first lookout.
Over the rail of the second lookout, you can risk vertigo and stare down at one of the white sand beaches hundreds of feet below, surf pounding.
Mokolea (here) and Kilauea Points and the sea cliffs between them are all that remain of a vast volcanic crater slowly eroded over the eons by wind and waves.
On the way back down Crater Hill, I take in the breadth of Kilauea—patches of deep-green forests and tended estates extending to cloud-covered mountains in the distance.
Back at my car, the view from Kilauea Point peninsula, near the Kilauea lighthouse, isn't too bad either.