Kalalau Trail, Kauai: A Premier Hike on the Na Pali coast

The Kalalau Trail offers stunning views of rainforest, ridges, and valleys along the Na Pali coast. The trail can be done in a few different ways: a day trip, overnight camp, or illegally. The day hike we did totaled 8 miles R/T and offered views of a few waterfalls and awesome views.

Permits and Route:
If you’re doing a day hike, you don’t need a permit. However, if you hike in beyond the Hanakoa Valley (~6 miles in) overnight permits are required that cost ~$20 a person. http://www.kalalautrail.com/permits.html Our original plan was to camp and after that didn’t work out, it was to do 22 miles total out and back. Time and logistics made us decide on an (8 mile R/T) out and back trip to Hanakapi’ai beach to and up the Hanakapi’ai Valley to the falls.

Day packs and good shoes. One of our people did it in water booties and I saw some people doing it barefoot. I had ankle high boots and most other people had sneakers. The trail can be muddy. It is full of rocks. I did see younger children (~10-12 years old) hiking to the beach.

We brought a tarp (which saved us when the rain came in). There wasn’t supposed to be any rain that day and it poured. So it’s good to be prepared.

Rain gear – in May, Kauai still gets rain sporadically. The waterproof rain jackets provided enough protection. There was a guy in rain pants and he did look much more comfortable. But then again, the water is warm and you’re probably going to swim at the end.

Hiking poles – Recommended. That said, of course I’ve never bought any. One of the items I’m considering researching. Previous intrepid explorers left large sticks at the trail head and we used those. I like having a stick that is shoulder height or higher. Portions of the trail require stepping down kinda far and the extra length helped. Makes it heavier though.

What can you expect to see?

The hike starts at a beach, nice and easy, well-marked.  Quite a few rocks and dirt trail work you out on the way up. Walking along the ridges provides fantastic views of mountain ridges coming out to the ocean. The beach Hanakapiai beach is covered with rocks and nice to sit and get food.

People hunt wild pigs out here, so eventually you may see that.


River crossings – fun and refreshing and a unique part of this hike. However, when it is raining, the water can rise extremely quickly. This news story took place a few days after we did our hike. As you can see from the pictures, the streams can change size (and safety) quickly.


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Hanakapi’ai Trail


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