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Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach, HI

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List HI > Kauai
5 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance One Way 11 miles
Trailhead Elevation 25 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,500 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 19.33
Interest Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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55  2017-12-12 ddgrunning
14  2016-10-22
Hiking Kauai
45  2016-10-16 chumley
55  2016-10-16 John9L
90  2015-08-21 Lucyan
13  2014-07-24 MikeS
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Aug, Sep, Jul, Jun
Sun  6:27am - 6:34pm
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    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Hiking Kauai
    Figured I'd put a few overall notes down for anybody planning on a trip to Kauai for hiking.

    You can fly direct to Lihue (LIH) from Phoenix (PHX). There are two flights daily and both return as red-eyes. I found the prices to be best during the week. Lower prices seemed to be available with connections in LAX, SFO, or HNL. But the connections made the 6.5 hour trip significantly longer with most connections being 3+ hours.

    Rental Car:
    All the major agencies rent at the Lihue Airport. There is poor public transport on the island and the few cabs are very expensive. A rental car is almost required. The good thing is it's a small island and you can't really rack up many miles, so the rates are quite reasonable. I rented through Costco for under $200 for the week.

    Food and Supplies:
    There is a Walmart in Lihue (but not a supercenter) and a Costco (which has the cheapest gas on the island). Gas ranged from about 50¢ to $1 more than in Phoenix. There are three places I know of that sell fuel canisters for your backpacking stove (isobutane/propane mix)--because you can't bring these on the plane. ACE Hardware in Lihue, Napali Kayak Tours in Hanalei, and Kayak Kauai in Wailua. We got ours at ACE and it was only $6. It was some South Korean brand but worked just fine.

    There are several Safeway stores in the various towns as well as another full-service grocery chain called Big Save. Both offer all the staples you need. Your Safeway discount card works there. If you shop at Big Save you should sign up for their discount card. We also enjoyed the fresh deli selections at the local Ishikara market in Waimea on the way to Koke'e and Waimea Canyon.

    It will rain while you are on Kauai. It's a rainy place. But except on the mountain, showers are usually brief. Most rain actually falls at night! The old volcano that makes the high-point of Kauai, Wai'ale'ale is 5100 feet in elevation, and the rain gauge there is often cited as the wettest place on earth. In some months it receives over 50 inches of rain, and averages 450+ inches of rain annually. Just 18 miles west of there on Polihale Beach, the average rainfall is just 8 inches. See this [ photo ] . Trade winds blow from the northeast so that side of the island receives more rain. It is all squeezed out by the mountains and the south and west coasts of the island are nearly dry. Depending on the strength of the trades and the available moisture, you may choose to hike one side of the island or the other on certain days if you have flexibility.

    There are state parks and county parks which allow camping. The county parks are all on beaches and offer camping at $3 per night per person. Permits can be purchased by mail in advance, but I would just get them in person at any of a number of locations. See their website for campground locations as well as the locations where you can pick up permits. Pay attention to the limited hours for the permit offices:

    Haena Beach Park, Anini Beach and Salt Pond are the three best county camping beaches. All have restrooms, sinks, and outdoor cold beach showers.

    The state park campgrounds are $18/night up to 6 people. Koke'e is a beautiful campground that may sell out on weekends. Weekdays rarely sell out and would not need to be reserved in advance. It has developed campsites with a grill and spigot in each plus bathrooms and cold showers.

    There are four primitive campsites in Waimea Canyon that we passed on our day hike there. All are basic with a rain shelter, picnic table, fire ring, and a composting toilet. As a tourist and visitor, I would get a permit if I planned to stay at any of them, but I'd be shocked locals ever buy a permit here. There's just not much use. The other sites in the mountains are also primitive and rarely visited. The final site is on the west coast at Polihale State Park. It's Hawaii's longest beach and getting here requires a 5-mile drive on a rutted dirt road that voids your rental car contract. :)

    State Park camping can be reserved online. I was able to do it on my phone and never printed the actual permit. See:

    In 1992, Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai square with 145-mph winds. The US Navy radar station up near Koke'e recorded 227mph before it was destroyed. :o So what does that have to do with anything? Yeah, so a chicken farm was destroyed in the hurricane freeing all the chickens. Now 25 years later, the island is innundated with chickens. They have no predator and they are everywhere. This isn't really a problem except if you are trying to sleep outside. For some reason these are the dumbest birds known to man and will begin their morning cockadoodledoos at 2 or 3am. Bring the best earplugs you can buy. You will need them! (The exception being the Na Pali coast where I believe the permanent residents effectively manage the population in the most delicious way possible :-$ ).

    Kalalau Trail / Napali Coast:
    Camping permits for this trail are $20pp/night and are available from the State Park website above. Unlike the others, this one sells out in advance. It is limited to 60 people per night and you are limited to a 5-night stay. I would recommend a minimum of 2 nights. If you wish to explore either of the two waterfall trails on the way to Na Pali a 3rd or 4th night are nearly required. We didn't manage to visit either waterfall due to our 2-night stay not providing the time for it. (Hanakapi'ai Falls and Hanakoa Falls).

    Other Hiking Trails:
    There are a bunch of other hikes on the island, but I would recommend the ridge line hikes from Koke'e State Park toward the Napali Coast. The views are phenomenal. Waimea Canyon is amazing, but some of the best views are enjoyed from the short viewpoint hikes rather than descending all the way to the bottom. I found this book to be a useful resource as it focuses much more on hiking and other outdoor recreation than other all-encompassing guidebooks. ... zona

    See reports of my hikes here:
    Sleeping Giant
    Nualolo Awaawapuhi
    Waimea Canyon to Lonomea Camp
    Secret Falls
    Kalalau Trail

    This was one of the most memorable trips I've been on and I can't recommend it enough to others who enjoy outdoor recreation. (I hear there are nice resorts on the island for people who just want to sit by the beach and lounge, but this is a hiking website! :) )
    Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This trip started with Chumley saying one of his friends was getting married in Hawaii and was then spending a few days backpacking the Kalalau Trail. We were all invited for the backpacking portion. The weeks and months flew by and Chumley procrastinated on buying the airfare to Kauai. I wasn’t sure if we were actually going two weeks beforehand but then Chumley finally came through and bought the plane tickets. This will be my first backpacking trip I’m flying to so that presented a new challenge on how to pack and other logistics.

    We flew out of Phoenix on Saturday afternoon and had a direct flight to Kauai that lasted about six hours. We landed and picked up our rental car and made it to Ace Hardware right before they closed and bought fuel. From there it was over to Safeway for food and then on to our hostel at the Kauai Beach House Hostel. The time change was three hours back and I was sleeping by 10pm.

    Our first full day started fairly early as I woke up around 5am and watched the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. The three of us started slow as we packed up and then started the hour drive to the north side of the island stopping for some breakfast along the way. We started hiking around 8:45am and headed up the Kalalau Trail. There were quite a few people on the first two miles as the trail makes a moderate climb. We eventually dropped down to Hanakapi’ai Beach and took a break at this wonderful beach. Most of the day hikers hike up Hanakapi’ai Falls but we don’t have the time.

    After our break we made the solid climb up the trail and continued our traverse as a light rain fell. We kept at it and took a lunch break at mile 6 which features a camp, stream and nasty toilet. From there it’s easy going for a mile until the ledges. The trail wraps around the cliff edge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The drop will kill you and every step counts. I felt it was more challenging going this way because some of it was downhill on a steep and loose trail. I was glad when we finally got away from the cliff edge and made the final descent to Kalalau Beach. Right before hitting the beach we ran into Jane and Luke and their friends. We selected a prime campsite right at the start of the camping area. We spent the rest of the day exploring the beach and admiring sunset. This place is just spectacular and all of us were in heaven! It was a great first day!

    Day two started very slow for us. Our group of eight took our time in camp as we ate breakfast and discussed the options for the day. We would day hike up canyon and explore some pools. The going was fairly easy as we gained elevation and eventually hit the deep pools where we spent an hour swimming and relaxing. It’s a beautiful day and life was good. Afterward we headed back down canyon and checked out the Community Garden the locals maintain. It’s in amazing condition with irrigation and several composting piles. The locals won’t go hungry! The rest of our day was spent relaxing in camp and exploring the beach and the caves on the far west side. I heard scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean have been shot here. This is such a magical place it’s perfect for the movies!

    Jane and Luke and company woke very early on Day three. They wanted to get an early start for the hike out. Chumley, Claire and myself started over an hour after them. The first few miles make a solid climb and then the ledges were up next. We took our time as we carefully worked our way across. I found them to be much easier on the hike out because there wasn’t as much downhill. We also had ideal conditions as it was sunny and dry at the moment. Once through we all took another break at the six mile camp. From there it was a grind back to the two mile mark at Hanakapi’ai Beach where we caught up with the rest of our group. The last two miles were very wet & muddy as it rained almost the entire time. I was very glad to arrive back to the rental car and the end this trip. Our plan was to head back to the hostel and then more hiking later in the week.

    The Kalalau Trail is just spectacular! The views are epic right from the start and the trail is a modern marvel. There are long stretches where you’re right on the cliff edge but don’t notice due to all the vegetation. The exposed cliffs are a rush but aren’t too bad if you take your time and keep a cool head. Besides that the rest of the group was a lot of fun and I’m glad we got to be a small part in Jane & Luke’s honeymoon. Thanks Chumley for putting this together and I look forward to a trip to the Big Island maybe next year!!!
    Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Probably the best backpacking trip I have ever been on! :y:

    My friends Jane and Luke got Maui'd but had a family-only ceremony so there was no way I would turn down an invitation to their backpacking honeymoon. After all, the Na Pali Coast is one of the most scenic and iconic stretches of coast on Earth, featured in dozens of movies, tv shows, etc. The 4000 foot peaks surround a stunning beach and valley that is inaccessible except to those willing to make the 11-mile journey by foot along a trail that is equally challenging as it is scenic.

    Big thanks to John and Claire for signing up for this one and putting up with my slack planning early on. With a full week on the island, we managed to cover a lot of miles in a variety of settings, but the Kalalau Trail was, of course, the highlight of the trip. Hell, it was the highlight of all trips!

    We started out a couple hours after the others since I figured that an 11-mile hike couldn't be too bad. While we did catch up with them just before arriving at camp, this hike is an absolute ass-kicker. It took us 7 hours to make it those 11 miles, and that was with perfect weather and totally dry trail conditions. The trail has a lot of up and down, rising from sea level to about 800 feet and back down, dipping in and out of various valleys. Claire once commented it was like the Tonto Trail ... another drainage to cross ... a zipline would be so much easier! :)

    While the ups and downs, ins and outs took their toll, the views along the way are nothing short of incredible. With year-round temps around 80, and pleasant trade winds providing cool breezes, the weather was perfect. It can (and does) rain here frequently, but we had the good fortune of having a dry hike to camp.

    Mile 7 features the most challenging terrain, including a feature called "crawlers ledge". There's a set of switchbacks that descend a loose scree slope (I lost my footing :scared: but fell safely on my ass). That probably didn't instill any confidence in those following me. Next the trail traverses a narrow cut along a cliff a few hundred feet above a violent ocean below. It's mostly mental, but sure is easy to get in your head! (I think Backpacker has it listed as top 10 most dangerous hikes in the world.)

    After the cliff section there are a couple of cuts across eroded slopes of loose red volcanic sand. A bit reminiscent of the Nankoweap Trail, but something about the ocean below makes for a different looking mind :pk: than those we usually deal with here in the desert. : rambo :

    Eventually the trail makes the final descent into the Kalalau Valley, crossing a picturesque stream before reaching the beach. A large camping area in the shaded forest adjacent to the beach provides ideal camping conditions, and two composting toilets help keep this popular location mostly clean. A waterfall at the far end of the beach is great for showering and getting drinking water.

    The Kalalau Valley features dozens of "outlaws": people who live here full time. Technically you are not permitted to stay more than 7 days and must have a permit. From time to time, the residents here are rounded up and removed, but they just come back. They've actually got a pretty good setup and all those we encountered were friendly and helpful. Apparently if you carry in cigarettes you have a valuable currency. Fires are not permitted, but the locals are usually burning something, and hot coffee was offered in the morning! :y:

    On Monday we did an easy dayhike through the valley exploring the multitude of use trails. The two main trails lead to Big Pool and Outlaw Pool -- two nice spots for swimming. Big Pool features a rope swing below two picturesque cascades and is highly recommended as a destination. The hike upstream from Outlaw Pool was an outstanding journey along a stream of endless cascades, waterfalls, and swimming holes. The gem of the valley however, is Community Garden. At least an acre in size it is a wilderness farm maintained by those who live here illegally. It is absolutely gorgeous! Bananas, avocados, peppers, tarot, potatoes, and a bunch of other things provide easy sustenance all year long.

    The ocean at Kalalau Beach has dangerous rip currents and shore break making swimming difficult. Most of us managed to get in about waist deep but didn't risk going farther. There's a scenic cave at the far end of the beach, with sea water that you can swim through to a sandbar in the deep, dark end. The beach is an amazing place for sunset, and the night moonlight was pretty cool too! 8)

    Tuesday we started early on the long 11-mile hike back, again taking 7 hours. This time the weather slowed us as it rained for a few hours on the last 6 miles creating treacherous conditions with slippery footing with mud and leaves. I was happy to have my trekking poles and would recommend them to anybody who makes this trip. Luckily the rain was light and there was no problem crossing any of the flood-prone streams.

    Finally back at the car, we made plans to meet up with the others later, and all headed our separate ways, with many more Kauai adventures planned in the days ahead.

    I really can't recommend this hike enough. It's among the best.
    Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai is the best trail I have ever been on. An amazing experience that I can not put into words. My video below explains it much better than words ever could, enjoy. Loved it. ... goXM

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