Spending a few hours on the Kalalalu Trail will be one of the highlights of your Kauai vacation. This ultimate hike known for its rugged beauty and remoteness is one of the premier destinations on island. The trail was built by the Hawaiian people who once lived in these coastal valleys. You can walk in their path and feel the mana “energy” from long ago.
Kauai Flood Update 2018: Kalalau Trail and Hanakapiai Beach are both closed due to landslides from the historic rains in April.
While the majority of Kauai hiking trails and beaches are open to you, the highway and beaches beyond Hanalei will be closed until July 23 or longer. There has been no date set for the reopening of the Kalalau Trail. On behalf of our island community, we thank you for your kokua during this time.
A recent guest staying at our Kauai vacation rentals asked if a 4WD was needed to reach the trail head. They were pleased to learn you can drive to where the trail begins at Ke`e Beach. It’s at the end of the road on the North Shore.
Today’s hike will be a 4 mile round-trip to beautiful Hanakapiai Beach. Many guidebooks recommend 2 hours but my advice is to block 4 hours from your schedule for this Kauai hike.
The first time I was on the trail I didn’t bring enough water with me. You need at least 2 liters per person. In addition to water, I pack energy bars and tuna that comes in a foil packet. On the trail I look for small yellow guavas that have Vitamin C.
I normally wear hiking boots or old sneakers in good condition. The Kalalau Trail is often muddy which can slow you down. A hiking pole is a good idea to have with you; it’s available at Wal-Mart for under eleven dollars.
How far you hike is really up to you. The trail is a good workout with a steep beginning and end. You can also do a shorter half mile hike each way and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Na Pali Coast.
After a mile on the trail I come to a small spring where I can splash water on my face. This is also a good place to look for wild orchids growing and guava.
Before reaching Hanakapiai Beach I’ll need to cross a stream that has slippery rocks. I usually bring reef walkers with me – but it’s possible to go barefoot if you’re careful.
Once you’re at Hanakapiai Beach there’s the temptation to enter the ocean. My advice is to wait until you’re back at Ke`e Beach. Hanakapiai has riptides and strong currents – it’s best appreciated from the beach. You can enjoy the refreshing waters of Ke`e Beach at the end of the day.
Top 5 Tips For Hiking to Hanakapiai Beach
1. Day hiking is allowed without a permit to Hanakoa Valley which is 6 miles from the trail head. If you want to hike the entire 11 mile Kalalau Trail, you’ll need an overnight camping permit. For more information visit the website for Hawaii State Parks.
2. Start your hike early in the day or mid-afternoon when the sun is not as strong. If you’re staying at our Haena rentals, you can walk to the trail head and not worry about parking. Our other Kauai vacation homes at Hanalei and Princeville Resort are a short drive away.
2. Apply sunscreen before your hike and then mosquito repellant. My favorite brand is Deep Woods.
3. Bring water, snacks and wear shoes that can handle mud. Reef walkers are good to have for crossing the stream. Hiking poles help too.
4. Pace yourself. You’ll see incredible views of the Na Pali Coast about a half mile into your hike and can always turn back at any time.
5. Don’t enter the ocean at Hanakapiai Beach – wait until you return to Ke`e Beach.
If you’ve hiked the Kalalau Trail we invite you to share your tips and experiences.