My weekly ramble
After 2011, this is the second time we hiked the first part of this beautiful trail along the Napali coast. The drive from Hanalei to the trailhead next to Ke’e Beach takes about 20 minutes and you get wonderful views of Hanalei Bay, Wainiha Bay and the famous surf and snorkel spot Tunnels Beach. There is a bigger overflow parking lot about half a mile before the trailhead, but you can be lucky and find a spot right at the end of the road if you’re early enough. If not, just drop off your folks and your stuff, park and come back. If it’s later in the day you can park along the road, even though it says “No parking anytime”. We’ve been told that it is very unlikely to get a ticket.
The Kalalau trail is 11 miles long and is divided in several sections.
© The Ultimate Guidebook of Kauai/Kauai Revealed, 7th edition
The first half mile you have to climb up a pretty rocky trail, but you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view over Ke’e Beach. So even if you’re not a hiker you could probably do that and get a good impression of the trail and a glimpse of the coastline.
The rest of the first part is another one and half mile to Hanakapi’ai Beach. It can be tricky in some spots if you’re a beginner hiker but it’s so worth it! These first two miles take most people 1.5 – 2 hours to hike each way and the views along Napali coast are absolutely breathtaking! Our girls are not hiking lovers in general, but even they enjoyed this trail tremendously. There are just so many great views, you can literally stop every 50 yards to take another picture, marvel at remarkable plants, find a small spring, balance on some cool rocks, take a big breath and enjoy the smell of the island. The nature here is totally bragging with its beauty and with hundreds of shades of green and blue. Being on and walking this trail can nothing else than make you happy and feeling one with the world you live in.
To get to Hanakapi’ai Beach you have to cross this small river. At this time there is actually not a beach, but only lots of rock stackings – really cool. Our girls made one themselves.
This is how the beach looked like in November 2011.
But this beach is definitely not a swimming beach! Hanakapiai’s currents can pull someone out to sea very quickly, and this is a primary reason that it is considered Kauai’s most dangerous beach.
This is as far as you can go without a permit, but if you want to extend the hike you can do the side trip to Hanakapi’ai Falls, one of the more spectacular falls and pools on the north shore. This hike is a bit less than 4 miles and your hiking time will increase to about 7-8 hours in total. “The authorities assume anyone going past Hanakapi’ai will be camping. If this is your plan, and you have your state camping permit, keep going. Only 9 miles to go from here. At Hanakoa, you have the choice of either camping (if it’s open), continuing to Kalalau or taking the 1/2 mile side trip to Hanakoa Falls, which is even lovelier than Hanakapi’ai. (…) Your toughest stretch is the last. From here to Kalalau Beach you’ll find lot of switchbacks and a narrow trail at times. (…) Persevere and you will be richly rewarded.” (from “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook/Kauai Revealed”, 7th edition, pg. 190/191)
One day I’d love to hike this trail all the way to the end and back! I think I have to find another hiking buddy though, since my husband much rather spends his day on a surfboard at Hideaways than walking up and down a narrow, rocky trail. If you’re considering to hike the whole trail, make sure you are well prepared because it is featured as on of America’s 10 most dangerous hikes. Checking out the official trail website is definitely essential and you should have a few extra days to be flexible since Kauai’s north shore weather conditions tend to change rapidly and flash flooding can make this hike really unpleasant. When we started the trail last Wednesday, a ranger was advising every single visitor to watch out for the weather since the day before 40 people got stuck after a flash flood and had to stay there over night. Fortunately there was a working crew, too, which had emergency supplies.
Looking for usable links I found this beautiful website Unreal Hawaii, check it out!