Plan your trip accordingly. Click the link below to buy a transportation ticket which also includes your entry into the park. Follow in the footsteps of ancient Hawaiians. This 11 mile stretch of coast is the original trail used by the Hawaiians who lived in Kalalau Valley and other valleys along the Napali.
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While hiking along this section of trail, you will mainly pass through wet jungle terrain. If it has rained recently, the entire backpacking trail can be very muddy and slippery. In addition, the trail crosses many small streams throughout the 11 mile trek. These provide fresh water sources, but purification is still recommended. If rain has been in the forecast, use caution when crossing the river as it could be running high. Surf and rip currents are variable and often treacherous and are only worse in winter.
This unmaintained trail can be difficult because of the numerous stream crossings, muddy conditions and boulder jumping. Hiking to the falls should only be hiked in good weather to avoid dangerous flash floods and falling rocks from the waterfall.
One shallow hole is directly left of the beach with a larger cave around the corner. Around the right side of the beach, you also may be able to enter a third sea cave. However, be cautious in entering these caves as they can be very dangerous. Only enter them in good conditions when the water is low.
For more information about how to obtain permits, see the Permit Information section below. Keep in mind that it can get dark somewhat early, so if you are hiking back to the trailhead, keep track of your time in order to return before dark or plan to bring a headlamp. The more strenuous hiking begins as the steep switchback trail climbs feet out of the small, but beautiful, Hawaiian valley. After hiking a little more than 6 miles in from the Kalalau Trailhead, you will come to the Hanakoa stream crossing where a rest area offers a stop for weary backpackers.
Facilities include a composting toilet and two roofed shelters. The Hanakoa and Kalalau valleys are the only authorized camping locations along the Kalalau Trail, so keep this half-way point in mind as a possible camping spot. The poorly marked half-mile trail up the east fork of the stream to Hanakoa Falls has hazardous, eroded sections but provides spectacular scenery.
After leaving the Hanakoa Valley, the hiking trail enters drier terrain that provides little shade. The steep ledges scream danger as they dive into the ocean below. Before reaching the mile mark, you will come to a breathtaking view of the Kalalau Valley, Kalalau Beach and expansive Pacific Ocean. Although not accessible in the winter, more sea caves can be found beyond this waterfall which provide popular summer camping shelters. As you hike throughout the valley, you will pass extensive agricultural terraces that are now overgrown with a variety of edible fruit trees including mangoes, wild guavas, coconuts, rose apples and papaya.
Though this is the most remote beach in Hawaii, there are people in the valley, including nudists, hippies and Vietnam War veterans, who seek out the solitude and relief from civilization that the serene nature that the Kalalau Valley offers. Whichever way you choose to hike the Kalalau Trail, it is guaranteed to be one backpacking trip you will always remember.
Again, permits are required if you decide to camp along the Na Pali Coast. Also be aware that camping is allowed only behind, not on, Kalalau Beach and that there is a 5-night maximum for camping.
Safety and Regulations Although all the waterfalls and streams along the Kalalau Trail provide fresh water, purification is recommended. Hikers also want to be aware that all trash must be packed out of the area. Summer weather May to October normally brings steady trade winds and occasional showers, while winter weather October to May is less predictable.
Additional Kalalau Trail Resources.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai: Hours, Address, Kalalau Trail Reviews: 5/5
While hiking along this section of trail, you will mainly pass through wet jungle terrain. If it has rained recently, the entire backpacking trail can be very muddy and slippery. In addition, the trail crosses many small streams throughout the 11 mile trek. These provide fresh water sources, but purification is still recommended.
Walking the first half mile will reward you with excellent views of the coast. Swimming or wading can be dangerous, however, and is not recommended. The surf and rip currents are variable and often extremely treacherous, but worst in winter when high surf conditions prevail. Many drownings have occurred here.
Kalalau Trail Guide
If you have Google Earth installed, click this link to download the trail data you see here. Also, I just noticed that there are newer, clearer satellite images in Google Earth for parts of Kauai, including Kalalau valley. Here are two different and closer views, click to enlarge. Update: A guy from Oahu wrote to tell me he blogged about his day-hike to Kalalau and back that link takes a while to load. At the bottom of his page, he made an animated flyover of the trail that he created from my Google Earth data.