HIKING THE KALALAU TRAIL KAUAI

Na Pali coast first viewpoint Kauai

Hawaii has been on my bucket list for quite some time. The tropical landscapes, with a myriad of hiking trails, hidden waterfalls and sweet tasting pineapples has always appealed to me. And with Jetstar offering ridiculously cheap airfares to Honolulu, it was an easy decision to plan a trip there. I travelled with a friend, and we planned for 10 days of beach time, hiking, yoga and soaking up the sunshine across three islands: Kauai, Maui and Oahu. My main purpose for wanting to visit Hawaii was to trek the iconic Kalalau Trail.

Na Pali coast trail overview Kauai

The trail is located in Kauai, weaving through the Na Pali coastline and offerings spectacular views across the ocean, up through the valleys and overlooking beaches. I would have loved to complete the 22 miles round trip in its entirety, however we completed the section Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach, then up the valley to Hanakapi’ai Falls. It’s an 8 mile round trip to see the beach and falls. You are rewarded with the most stunning scenery and there are multiple viewpoints along the way to get your coastline snaps.

The hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach is a well maintained trail and can be hiked by people of all fitness levels, however going up to the falls requires multiple river crossings and is quite muddy and slippery, so I would recommend it for more experienced hikers.

We were fortunate to have a sunny day and it was still quite muddy. Kauai is the Garden Island and has a high rainfall compared to the other Hawaiian islands. I’d recommend packing a waterproof jacket and if you’re hiking to the falls, I’d either wear waterproof sandals for the entire hike or pack a pair and change into them for the river crossings. This means you can walk straight into the river and cross, instead of rock hopping, which can result in nasty falls (which we saw).

Hanakāpīʻai Falls Kauai

The falls are definitely worth the hike. You will see native plants and immerse yourself in the rainforest along the way and the falls are quite dramatic and a perfect place to have lunch.

Hanakapi’ai Falls Kauai

Although the hike is back along the same trail, I always look out for things I missed and stop to take more photos. Plus, it’s also a later time in the day, so the sun will be in a different position, offering different perspectives and lighting across the landscapes. One thing I noticed on the hike back were how big the waves were and how small the surfers looked. I am always inspired by people who can tackle big swell and make it look so easy.

Must knows:

  • If planning a hike on the Kalalau Trail, check the weather as flash flooding can occur
  • To avoid crowds and super hot weather, travel just before or after peak season. We travelled in late April
  • For interisland flights, a baggage fee applies however sign up for Hawaiian Airlines membership (free) for discounted baggage fees
  • The trail section to Hanakāpīʻai Falls and Hanakāpīʻai Beach do not require a permit, however if you hike any further you need to book a permit
  • For accommodation, we stayed in an Airbnb in Princeville, which was perfect!
  • If hiring a car, they do not offer the rental excess in Hawaii, therefore car insurance direct with the car hire company is mandatory as you will be 100% responsible for any fees resulting in an accident
  • Plan to hike the trail early – we go to the car park by around 9am and it was already full and we had to drive along the road and find a spot to park

 

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