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“A visit to Kauai wouldn't be complete without hiking this trail”
Review of Kalalau Trail

Kalalau Trail
Ranked #5 of 288 things to do in Kauai
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Kauai's hiking trail along the Na Pali coast.
Reviewed September 13, 2013

We did the first 2 miles to Hanakapai'ai beach. As others have mentioned, you need to be in fairly good shape to do this. If you have bad knees and/or ankles, don't even think about trying! It's also important to wear a pair of good hiking shoes and bring along lots of water.

Maybe we got lucky. The trail was dry on our hike. There was only one spot that was a bit wet and slippery. It wasn't muddy at all. Nobody fell or came close to falling.

We brought water shoes and bug spray but didn't need to use either. What we used a lot were the SLR/camcorder/P&S & our phone cameras! The views were just fantastic along the way. We made frequent stops and took many, many pictures. The hike turned into a photographic journey. As a result, we were passed over numerous times, by people old and young. We ended up using 5 1/2 hours to complete the round trip, including the 1+ hours we spent at the beach.

The beach was nice but it was quite windy there. The occasional blasting of wind-driven sand can be uncomfortable if staying out in the open long enough. The cliff walls offered a respite from the wind and the sand. Note that the wind was not be a problem at all further inland away from the beach. The surf looked treacherous. I would not recommend going into the water there.

Find a parking can be challenging - unless you get there really early or lucky enough to catch someone leaving. I think this will always be the case given the limited parking space available. We got there in late morning (around 11am). Not only was the lot full, but there were several cars sat idling, waiting for people to leave. The second lot (1/4 mile away) was also full. There were plenty of signs posted along the road between the 2 parking lots informing visitors not to park on the sides. Yet we still found plenty of people who ignored the warning. Although we didn't notice anyone getting ticketed that day, we didn't want to take the risk. We parked on the side of the road further out, close to the entrance of Limahuli Garden. It was probably more than .5 mile from the trailhead. A word of warning. We were told break ins and vandalism are common here. So try not to leave anything in your car. And if you must, make sure they are hidden from sight.

This hike was one of highlight of our trip. We were so glad that have done this. Next time we'll try to get to the falls.

Thank traveltravel88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 11, 2013

This was the highlight of our trip by far. We hiked from the trailhead at Kee Beach for 2 miles until Hanakapai'ai beach, then cut in and went to Hanakapai'ai falls which was another 2 miles and then headed back to the trailhead (8 miles in all). I would have loved to do the whole 11 miles but we didn't have the time to camp over night.

First this is not an easy trail at all, my wife and i are in good shape and this was tiring. The hot, humid weather along with the rugged terrain makes each mile seem like 3 times as long but the hard work is worth it. Along the way you smell guavas, see beautiful scenes of Kee beach, the Napali coast and other wild treasures. We stopped numerous times to eat fresh guavas and wild apples which were delicious. This was a wonderful bonding experience for the 2 of us!

The highlight was for sure the falls, we packed lunch and sat there for 45 minutes or so eating while taking in the beauty of the falls. Afterwards we went for a dip in the swim hole at the bottom of the falls. The water was definitely cool but incredibly clear and very refreshing after the hard work.

Hanakapai'ai beach was ok but given you can't swim or go near the water for safety it is a bit less appealing when there are so many other nice beaches on the island.

Be warned this is not a leisurely stroll so come well prepared with water, proper foot wear, spare socks, food, rain coats, etc. This took us about 6h 40m with our stops along the way. A camera is a must as well. I left my SLR at the hotel as I would have worried the whole time about dropping it in the many river crossings, my wife fell in twice. I brought my waterproof Olympus which was perfect and worry free even though I would have loved SLR quality photos.

If I ever come back to Kauai again this will be at the top of my list!

Thank whodaphucru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

Did the beach and waterfall on 7th September. Agree with most previous reviewers except that i thought the last half mile or so was more strenuous than a lot of people have made out. After an easy-ish start on a rooty path through woods, there are some sections that are more of a scramble than a hike - we did it while it was raining quite a lot and some sections felt slippy and precarious. It's not the sort of place to go over on an ankle...any misjudgement could be rewarded with a fall down a cliff or river bank, or a nasty injury! A certain mount of agility and confidence is required. If in doubt on the river crossings, wade through the water - the damp shoes will not be a hindrance. We spoke to various people who had done the whole 11 miles, and the bit from the beach to the waterfall is generally viewed as the hardest part of the lot.

Thank Bobster2003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

Just got back from a backpacking trip to Kalalau. It's hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I last made the trek. The trail, with it's challenges, views, and the eventual destination are every bit as breathtaking as i remember them. They probably looked about the same for thousands of years. Kalalau is a must-see in your lifetime. If you are a hiker, backpack in. Kayak to Kalalau if you don't want to deal with the 11 mile trek and want to see the coast from a different perspective (and float in luxury items like real food and drink). There are plenty of fresh water crossings along the way, so bring a pump/filter and travel light - you only have to carry a few liters of water if you don't mind stopping to pump. Start early - like 6am - don't run the risk of getting caught in the dark towards the end of the trail. If you get a late start, plan to camp at around mile 5 and finish the next day. Permits are recommended (required), though I've never seen a ranger back there during my two trips in.

Thank HanaHou77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2013

Last year I did the entire trail in one day but did not get a chance to do either of the waterfall hikes off of the main trail - so this time I went back just to do the first waterfall. This is a four mile hike in and you have to back track to get out.

For this trip I did bring my GPS (iPhone 5 - no phone service but GPS does work and is accurate enough). If you are interested - you should be able to see the details on MapMyHike website - (http://www.mapmyhike.com/routes/view/279892081) (for those less savvy internet users - never click on a link without knowing the source - your best bet is to go to the website yourself and then find the map by using the 279892081 ID - but for those that feel trusting - click away).

As it has been said many times - this is a good hike and most people should be able to handle it without issue as long as you use some basic common sense (which based on my two hikes here - there is not as much of that as you would expect). First - you are hiking in a tropical rain forest which means as the day moves along it is going to get more and more humid (actually the humidity itself probably does not go up but since the temperature does - it feels a lot more humid). This means you need to bring water and not just one little bottle of it to support your group of four. It also means that unless you are lucky - it probably is going to have rained overnight which means that the trail is going to be muddy (which in some sections equals slippery) and it is probably going to rain on you if you stay out there long enough. This means to wear proper foot wear (i.e. no flip flops unless you plan to go barefoot for a majority of the trail or you just want to make things much more difficult than it should be) and that you should either be prepared to get wet or bring something to keep you dry. Lastly it means that the earlier you start the lower the temperature and the less impact the humidity will have on you (also the better photos you will get because the sun will be lower in the sky and not wash out your photos).

The hike itself has been covered many times as well - you start out at 85ft and climb pretty much straight up to 583 ft within the first 1.2 miles. This is a course that is always either going up or down - it is rarely flat. The beginning of the hike is on round rocks that are not the most traction friendly - especially when they are wet. After you clear this section - you do not have any more sections that are covered like the start but you should also remember that this is also what you end the hike on and I have seen many people descend this section very nervously and slowly. The next .8 miles is straight down as you head for the first river crossing and the beach area. This is another section that if you are not in decent shape can be really tough on the quads as you hike out. This .8 mile is straight up on the exit with several switch backs that have made many people miserable when they are not properly hydrated, in their flip flops, and the most exercise they have gotten over the last few years is walking to their car (no kidding - you have to see how ill prepared some people are who take this hike).

Once you get to the beach area - you can either go straight and continue on the main trail or turn left and head another 2 miles towards the 300 ft waterfall. The second half of the trail is not as strenuous as the first half but it still a solid hike with several stream crossings and places to get off course (I am pretty sure it is almost impossible to get off trail on the first half of the hike). The trail itself is pretty well marked with the red/orange markers on the trees but there are a few places that are not marked with a couple of options on where to go (did not try different options to see if they all came back together at a future place). The key is to pay attention - especially at the stream crossings because every stream has the easiest way and then three or four other ways to cross it. Many people have gotten hurt crossing the streams because they either lost their footing (can happen to any one) or did not take their time looking at their options and just went for it. If the streams are flowing too hard- don't be an idiot and try to force it because there are a lot of stream crossings and you have to double back to get out - which means just because you made it across the first one - it does not mean you are going to make it across all of them. It should also be noted - there is no cell service any where near the trail much less on the trail. So if you get hurt - somebody is going to have to hike out before you are going to get any help. Now the good is there are two helicopter landing pads on this trail - so at least once they know you are hurt - they don't have to hike all the way in just to rescue you.

At the end of the hike is a great 300 ft water fall that is wonderful to just hangout around. Many people enjoy getting into the water and almost all of them look like the water is much colder than they expected (personally I don't know because I don't get in) but I never saw one of them get out before they did their swim around. It should also be noted that many people enjoy swimming under the waterfall and letting the water hit them - this is great as long as nothing but water is falling. Just another friendly reminder - water is not the only thing falling here and many people have unfortunately found this out (actually it was their family and friends since I doubt the person had a clue what happened to them).

Overall the hike was wonderful. On my hike I did the actual hiking in a little over two hours and spent about two hours at the falls and other area photographing everything and soaking it the sights. When I arrived at the falls there was a group of about 5 people that showed up at basically the same time (I started at 6:30 am) and we each did our own thing without getting into each others way. The pool itself is pretty large and there is an upper viewing area to the left that is where most professional photos of the area are taken. The area is a great place to relax, eat something, and enjoy everything. One last note - please haul out what you hauled in - it was unfortunate on my visit that somebody decided that it was too much trouble to clean up after themselves.

Ok - one more last note - if you want to photograph the water fall - you will need a very wide angle lens to do it. I was shooting with at 24mm on a full-frame camera and it was not as wide as I would have liked once I was on the overlook. As for the photos along the trail - unless there is something special that you want to see off in the distance - I expect that you would not need anything longer than a 70mm and that is probably a lot longer than you would actually want/need.

2  Thank xfactor00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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