Trail Name: Kalalau Trail (first 3.2 km from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach)
Distance (roundtrip): 6.4 km
Time (roundtrip): 3 hours plus time at the beach
Elevation: 325 metres total elevation gain
The hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach is on the North Shore of Kauai and is part of the famous Kalalau Trail that traverses the stunning Napali Coast. The Napali Coast consists of huge cliffs and narrow valleys which are only accessible by boat or on foot. The cliffs are strikingly beautiful and were the most memorable views of our trip.
The Kalalau Trail is a challenging 11 mile trek which traverses 5 valleys and cliffs and ends at secluded Kalalau Beach. The hike will generally take a full day so most hikers will spend a few days camping to enjoy this secluded area of the coast.
However, if you don’t have the time or energy to do the full hike to Kalalau Beach, the hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach is a great option for a day hike. There are plenty of stunning viewpoints, lush greenery and ends in a beautiful sandy beach. We stopped to relax on the beach, take pictures and eat the lunch we had packed. No chance for a dip in the ocean as the waves were too big, but the incredible views of the beautiful Napali coastline were worth every minute of the grueling hike. You will need to wade through a stream to get to the beach and be aware that the stream can become impassable in rainy stormy weather.
Bonus Hike: The Hanakapiai Falls Trail – Another 3.2 km (6.4 km roundtrip) into the Hanakapiai Valley will take you to the Hanakapiai Falls, a 90 metre high waterfall. The journey involves several river crossings, an elevation gain of 230 metres and will take approximately 2 hours to the falls. It may be worth it to be able to swim in the pool with a view of the falls.
Note: Hiking permits are required if you plan on hiking beyond the Hanakapiai Valley.
You can reach the beginning of the Kalalau trail by driving to the very end of the highway. Recently the park has implemented an entry voucher system which only allows 900 visitors into the park per day. Parking vouchers are also available for a fee but there are only 70 spots available for visitors as 30 spots are reserved for locals. The trail can also be reached by the Kauai North Shore Shuttle, taxi, Uber, or private drop-off.
There are pit toilets at Hanakapi’ai Beach but using them wasn’t the most pleasant experience.
Ke’e Beach – This beautiful sandy beach is located at the beginning of the Kalalau trail head. It is the perfect place to cool off in the calm water and rest your weary legs after a grueling hike. The huge waves in January were broken by the natural reef leaving calm swimming pool like conditions.