Kalalau Trail & Hanakapi’ai Falls, the Iconic and Incomparable Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Distance: Choose your own adventure. You can turn around at Ke Beach (2 miles each way), which the majority do. You can continue to Hanakapi’ai Falls (add 2 miles each way for a round trip of 8 miles) or to Hanakoa Falls (add 4 miles each way for a round trip of 12 miles) or complete the hike to Kalalau (add 9 miles each way for  22 round trip). The latter would entail overnight camping.

Difficulty: Terrain is at times steep, slippery, scrambly, and almost always muddy. Expect a slower-than-normal pace. Alltrails rates the hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls as challenging. As always, the difficulty is relative to your fitness level and tolerance for slippery terrain.

Elevation Gain: 1,841 to Hanakapi’ai Falls

The views of the green cliffs plunging into the turquoise Pacific along the Kalalau Trail are stunning—classic Na Pali Coast. Beautiful Ke Beach is an idyllic place to spend the afternoon if you don’t wish to venture farther.

For more adventurous spirits, the trek through rain and bamboo forests to Hanakapi’ai Falls is an absolute must! As are the refreshing swimming holes along the way!  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Bamboo forest enroute to Hanakapi’ai Falls

Hanakapi’ai Falls, apparently what we see here is only the bottom ~400 feet or so of the waterfall. Magnificent!

Hanakapi’ai Falls

Hanakoa Falls is another waterfall further along the Kalalau Trail that is taller than Hanakapi’ai Falls ( ~1,000 ft tall vs ~400 ft). Hanakapi’ai Falls is by far the most spectacular waterfall and setting that I’ve ever hiked to. I can’t wait to go back and check out Hanakoa Falls. Have you been?

Notes: If hiking to waterfall, beware of inclement weather as it’s a dangerous flash flood area. Strongly recommend hiking shoes to get the most traction. Some hikers use poles too. I didn’t. I prefer to have my hands free. These pictures illustrate why. The rocky section on the right is at the beginning of the hike and not representative per see.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED all vehicles and hikers visiting HĀʻENA STATE PARK and may be made up to 30 days in advance, no later than the day before. (Hawaii residents are exempt.) There’s limited parking (100 spots) at the trailhead, but there’s a daily shuttle service from daily from Waipā Park and Ride to Hā‘ena State Park (~$40 ea person, includes park entry). Shuttle info here.

Happy Trails!