Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)
To get to the trailhead: Take HWY-56 west to the end of the highway (Kee Beach) and find a place to park (sometimes easier said than done). The well marked trailhead is on your left at the end of the road. There are restrooms, water, and a beach here.
Hike the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii
The impressive scenery of the Napali coast certainly live up to the adoring prose written about it over the years. This makes the effort to walk along the coast of it worthwhile, even though the footing is slippery regardless of when you go. Although the 11 mile Kalalau trail will get you all the way to remote Kalalau beach, you need a camping permit to do it. A better day hike destination is the first beach along the trail, Hanakapiai Beach.
Make sure you have sturdy footwear with good traction, as this trail is muddy and slippery all year round, due to the prodigious rainfall this area is blessed with. It may be worthwhile to bring a light rain jacket, as rains are common on the North side of Kaua'i, but can be brief. Also, bring water with you, as the fresh water along the Napali coast needs to be treated before drinking. You will sweat like crazy in the high humidity environment.
From the well marked trailhead, follow the trail from Kee Beach along the North coast of Kaua'i. This wilderness is a mixture of rainforest, flowing streams, waterfalls, and remote beaches, making this a memorable hike. As you walk, be sure to look around once in a while to enjoy this area fully. While hiking, we noticed a school of Dolphin playing in the ocean below us.
Although it isn't a long distance (2.1 miles) to get to Hanakapiai Beach, the slippery nature of the trail slows down progress. You'll walk a bit slower on this trail than on other well worn trails.
Hanakapiai Beach is easy to spot. Nestled between two rock cliffs, the white sand beach enjoys the beautiful Pacific ocean to the North and a clear stream on the south. This is an excellent place to rest for a bit and have a snack. Just don't plan on swimming here, the waters are not very safe or enjoyable for swimming (as the multitude of warning signs here attest). You can wash up in the cool waters of Hanakapiai stream.
The trail splits here, with the Kalalau trail continuing West and the Hanakapiai waterfall trail going South along the stream. If you have the energy, feel free to take the Hanakapiai trail to the waterfall, just realize it is 2 miles one way to this sight. Continuing along the Kalalau trail is only permitted for those with a valid camping permit.
After enjoying all the scenery and exploration this area has to offer, head back the way you came.