The Kalalau Trail is an 11-mile trail (22 miles round trip) along the NaPali Coastline that provides the only access by land to this part of the rugged Kalalau Valley along the NaPali Coast. The NaPali Coast is a very serene and beautiful place. The coast consists of steep cliffs and deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. The trail was originally built in the late 1800s with portions of the trail being rebuilt in the 1930s. The trail actually follows the original route built by early Hawaiian people who named this area NaPali, meaning "the cliffs". Being one of the most scenic trails in the world, the Kalalau Trail provides many opportunities to view breathtaking coastal vistas while trekking through a pristine paradise.
View of the Kalalau Valley and NaPali Coast from Kalalau Lookout in Kokee State Park
If you are a hiker, the Kalalau Trail in Kauai is sure to be on your bucket list. It is a MUST DO activity while visiting the Hawaiian island of Kauai whether you are a day hiker just wanting a short hike or an avid backpacker willing to spend 3-5 days camping in the NaPali Coast paradise. The trail begins in Ha’ena State Park at the northwest end of Kuhio Highway (Route 56) at Ke'e Beach.
Our plan for this visit was to hike from Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai Beach and on to the Hanakapi'ai Falls: 4 miles one way (8 miles round trip).
As you begin the trail you'll traverse through an extremely lush jungle-like area. The trail will be steep, rocky and muddy. After the first half mile, you will arrive at the top of an overlook that offers sweeping views of Ke'e Beach below and the NaPali Coastline. The view of the beautiful beach and blue azure water is stunning. This is one of the most impressive views of the entire hike.
Overlook of Ke'e Beach Hiking the Kalalau Trail
As you continue on the trail, there are many other glimpses of the NaPali Coastline and the waters below as you hike along the towering sea cliffs and through lush green valleys. Native tropical plant species are abundant and wild goats are often seen along the trail route. You will cross fresh water streams and notice many waterfalls along the way. The elevation gain is approximately 600 feet along the first 2 miles.
View of Trail and NaPali Coast
Trail overlooking Hanakapi'ai Beach
The red dirt trail eventually becomes quite steep through a series of switchbacks as you travel down Red Hill. But, what goes down must come up later! Once you've crossed the Hanakapi'ai Stream (a bit tricky), you've completed the first 2 miles and arrived at the beautiful Hanakapi'ai Beach. It was the perfect spot for lunch, rest and spectacular view.
Crossing the Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapi'ai Beach with sea cave
The next 2 miles to the Hanakapi'ai Falls is a bit more rugged with an elevation gain of 760 feet through the Kalalau Valley. The trail runs mostly along the Hanakapi'ai Stream and there are several stream crossings. The reward at the end of the trail is a fantastic 300 foot tall waterfall and a refreshing pool at it's base.
Hanakapi'ai Stream Hanakapi'ai Falls We finished our hike on the Kalalua Trail
It was an awesome hike and one of the most scenic we've ever done.
We were also able to see the NaPali Coast on board a catamaran that offers sunset cruises. What a view and a great treat after that long hike!
View of NaPali Coast from Water
IMPORTANT SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS FOR KALALAU TRAIL & HANAKAPI’AI BEACH AND STREAM:
There is no water available on Kalalau Trail. Please be sure to bring plenty of water with you. Use extreme caution crossing Hanakapi'ai stream and if there has been consistent heavy rain recently or the flow is high, do NOT cross at all. Swimming in the surf at Hanakapi'ai Beach is prohibited due to dangerous currents.