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Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)

Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)
Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)
Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)
Kalalau Trail (Hanakapiai Beach)
Hanakapiai Beach
Hanakapiai creek
map: Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)
Elevation plot: Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast)


How to Get There
This hike is located on the island of Kaua'i, Hawaii.

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 details

4.20 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
4.2 miles round trip (to the Hanakapiai beach and back)
3.50 [Hours]
It took us 3.5 hours (with about 30 minutes at the beach for exploration)
Elevation Change
500 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 500 ft gain and loss
Hike Trail Type
Out and Back
Special Features


Best Season
  • April
  • May
  • September
  • October
Worst Season
  • January
  • February
  • December
Season Details
Spring, Summer, and Fall (Winter can be very wet)
Date Hike completed
October 05, 2009


Solitude Details
Up to the beach is a very popular hike, expect to share the trail with 100 other hikers. Past the beach you need a camping permit and I imagine the crowds will thin considerably.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
35 yr old Recommendation: The scenery is stunning and well worth the effort. Although the distance isn't far, the slippery footing makes this a Moderate difficulty hike.


Be Aware of
Hot and humid weather, mosquitoes, muddy and slippery footing.

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.


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