The Kalalau Trail is the premier trail on Kauai. A rugged, 11-mile trail that ends at the spectacular Kalalau Beach, it’s something that should be on every hiking enthusiast’s bucket list. If you’re not in tip-top shape, however, there are options for you to enjoy this trail, too, so definitely check it out if you’re reasonably fit.
The way I see it, there are three main options when you’re planning to hike the Kalalau Trail.
Hike to Hanakapiai Beach. This is the easiest option of the three and will take you two miles in to the beach, and then two miles back for a total of four miles. The terrain can get a little rugged and challenging, but most people in decent shape should have no problem with this hike. Along the way, you’ll be awarded with gorgeous views of the ocean and the Na Pali Coastline. When you reach the beach, you can relax there for a little while before you head back. Don’t plan on swimming there, however, as the surf can often be quite dangerous.
Hike to Hanakapiai Falls and back. This is the option I chose when hiking the trail. After you’ve done the first two miles of the trail and arrived at Hanakapiai Beach, there is an option to hike an additional two miles up Hanakapiai Valley to the falls. This is an absolutely beautiful trail through some of the most lush terrain you’ve ever seen, but I do warn you that this trail can be extremely challenging. Also note that there is no water or composting toilet at all along this trail, so you’ll have to pack your own water and either hold it or pee in the wilderness. Don’t let that stop you, however. This trail is gorgeous and the waterfall at the end is absolutely breathtaking. You can swim in the pool at the foot of the waterfall, which is a refreshing way to spend part of the afternoon. Make sure to make time to trek the 4 miles back to the beginning of the trail, however. At 8 miles of extremely rugged terrain, this is a challenging hike, but if you’re reasonably fit, you can handle it.
Hike the entirety of the trail. This is for you hardcore hikers who like carrying all your belongings on your back and camping for the evening. Remember when I said the trail was 11 miles long? Well, that’s one way. If you want to hike the entire thing, it’s a 22 mile journey, and the terrain can be rugged and challenging at times. You’ll need a permit to do this hike and to camp for the night, and you’ll want to camp for the night. Camping is only allowed at Hanakoa or Kalalau, so plan your hike accordingly. Keep in mind the camping areas along the trail are not serviced campsites, so you’ll need to bring your own drinkable water as well. They do have composting toilets at Hanakapi’ai, Hanakoa, and Kalalau.
Here are a few photos from our day on the trail:
After my husband and I hiked the 8 mile round trip hike to Hanakapiai Falls, we were ravenous. My husband was on a mission to eat at Brick Oven Pizza all the way back in Kalaheo. The pizza was amazing and I highly recommend it, but at the time I might have liked stopping at one of the restaurants closer to the trail head, hahaha.
Want to read more about Kauai? I’ve chronicled the entire journey in my ‘old blog posts’ series. You can start reading about it here. You can read specifically about our day on the Kalalau Trail here.