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Ways to Experience Kalalau Trail
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All reviews hiking shoes hanakapi'ai beach mile hike stream crossings amazing hike mile mark half mile slippery rocks miles round trip hanakapi ai walking stick challenging hike napali coast four miles wear good shoes entire hike bug spray
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Reviewed October 9, 2019 via mobile

Hiked the 8 miles to Hanakapiai falls. It ended up being about 11 miles total including the walk to/from parking lot, adding in a stop at the beach, and wandering around at the falls. We started at 7:40am and completed it around 4:00pm with an hour at the falls and 40 minutes at the beach (1/2 way). I’m female 38y/o, hiked with Dad 58y/o.
I read many reviews before going....This trail is hard to review accurately because sooo much depends on the weather. But here are my few tips:
1) WEAR BUG SPRAY if you’re one of those people who attract them. We made a special stop at the store just for the spray. When we got on the trail, I never saw or felt ANY bugs on me, so I assumed I didn’t need it, and didn’t put any on. ‍♀️I was wrong, and later in the evening ended up covered in 68 bites on my 2nd day in Kauai. I looked terrible, and itched even worse the next few days.(Note: I hiked with my Dad who received NO bug bites without applying bug spray)
2) Going against other reviews here, my personal opinion is the first two miles to the beach are harder than the second two to the falls. I’m basing this purely on incline. Once you cross the stream at the beach, the incline is not bad at all. (Note: at about the 1/2 mile nearest to the falls, there is a LOT of scrambling over rocks, but it’s not on an incline.)
3) The trail was dry when we started whi ch made the hike easy. Luckily, we didn’t encounter much rain on the hike to the falls (except once for 5 min). However, when we started our return back, the trail had turned into a muddy, slippery mess. This made the trail much harder, and more dangerous. I would definitely not recommend this trail if it’s raining or if the trail is super muddy right when you start. I thought coming back was a nightmare due to mud. (Note: this is why shoes with good traction is a good idea, and if you have a walking stick... even better!)
4) Keep your shoes on through the stream crossings! Not only does it save a ton of time, it’s also more safe and comfortable. We took our shoes off the first couple crossings and quickly learned this. Yes, you will have to get used to walking in soggy shoes, but most likely they’re going to be wet anyway from mud puddles. (The streams were all at least knee deep when we went 10/3/19)
Lastly....this is a MUST DO if you’re into nature and waterfalls. There’s something extremely beautiful and rewarding about the experience once you’re standing below the 300ft fall. We are not “hikers”, and while we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to the car, it was one of the biggest highlights of our trip. We even took a dip in the pool. Freezing, but exhilarating. Make sure you take enough water. We took 4, 16oz bottles each, (2 on way up, 2 on way down) which we drank all of. We were rained on the whole second half of the way down, so sun rays weren’t an issue, but I imagine more water would be needed if so. And snacks with protein!

Date of experience: October 2019
9  Thank TawnyLeann
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 3, 2019

I first hiked the trail in 1976. It was a real treat back then. My wife and I returned in 1981. We hiked to Kalalau Beach. It was a magical journey indeed. Only the boats brought some folks in. There were no helicopters. We checked out the scene in the 90's and one more time around 2005. The number of helicopters was so noisy. The airspace around the coast should be off limits to mechanized transport.

Date of experience: November 2018
2  Thank rastacubbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2019 via mobile

It rained, ore than that, it poured the day we hiked. We waited til after noon to head over from HBR since the rain was coming down so hard all morning, and that was a good call because it started to let up a bit around that time.

We forgot to bring our snorkel stuf for Ke’E beach, so don’t be like us! My favorite part of that beach it the trees that meet the sand. I love those trees so much because the earth was pulled out from beneath them so you can see their bones! They stand so tall they almost look like Mangrove trees which they are clearly not because they are on land.

The hike can be steep and slippery, however there is not much zig zagging like on traditional hikes. This is nice because everyturn brings you new foliage and unique views.

We are not avid hikers but in this trip we did the Secret waterfall kayak/hike, Waimea canyon 4x4/hike, Queens Bath shirt hike to the tide pools in the morning low tide, and this one. While Queens Bath was amazing, this hike takes the cake!

I don’t know if it was the challenging weather that took us, or the fact that we did this one before we did Queen’s Bath, but we found this hike beautiful and only wished the weather would if allowed us to keep going!

Date of experience: September 2019
3  Thank SEANYWHO13
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2019 via mobile

I took the 4 mile trail to the falls. It was just amazing. The hike is changing, but it has a beautiful beach at mile 2 and restrooms. Then, it gets challenging. Be prepared to muddy, slippery, step trail, and you will cross a creek at least 2. So, get good hiking shoes and a hiking stick.

The views are impressive and the waterfall one of the best experiences of my live.

Now, reserve in advance for parking. There are 100 spots only. Alternatively, there is a shuttle that goes every 30 min from waipa park. The staff is not the most friendly, but it was reliable.

Date of experience: September 2019
2  Thank Pipete40
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2019

My husband and I did this hike last week (9/18/19) and bought the permit via the website a few weeks beforehand and chose the 6:30am-12:30pm timeslot. We got there right at 6:30am (gorgeous drive there seeing sunrise at Tunnels Beach!!) We had decided we would do the hike to the beach and then on to the Falls. 4.5 miles each way, so 9 miles round trip. We wore our good hiking boots and packed lots of water and pistachios/peanut butter sandwiches/granola bars.

The hike to the Beach was pretty easy. and GORGEOUS. The only difficult part of this hike was the stream you had to cross over. Beach was beautiful but not meant for swimming which I later read- I went in to swim and the first wave knocked me over and my head hit the sand. Im fine but had sand in my hair for 4 days! We proceeded to the Falls. WEAR YOUR BUG SPRAY! I didn't and got bit up. This was a a great hike the first half and then got much more challenging. Multiple streams to cross via large boulders, some pretty steep parts, and just kinda difficult. But AWESOME!! Beautiful Bamboo forrests, streams, and then the waterfall itself was certainly beautiful and relaxing. We didn't see a soul on the trail from the beach to the falls but saw a handful of other people there once we got there. We ate and went back. We arrived back at the car at 12:40pm. Definitely took the whole 6 hours if you stop at both the Beach and the Falls! Hope this is helpful!

Date of experience: September 2019
10  Thank cupcake472
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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