This hiking trail in the north of Kauai is called to be the most beautiful trail of Hawaii. The trail is 15 km long in one direction.
Best time for hiking the Kalalau trail is the drier season between May and October however showers occur frequently. After Hanakāpīʻai Beach it is almost impossible to hike this trail in very wet conditions. It is very slippery and muddy on the narrow footpath. The only option is a pair of mini-crampons.
Update August 2019: There was a trail closure for 14 months due to immense flooding mid-April 2018. The highway and bridges to the Haena State Park got also flooded and destroyed. The Haena State Park and Kalalau trail got reopenend mid-June 2019. However, a permit is neccessary also for day visitors now. Apply online for a permit to hike until the Hanakāpīʻai Beach and Falls, same for the entire Kalalau Trail. Permits are limited. Overnight parking is not any longer allowed. A shuttle bus reservation is needed for the Kalalau Trail. Do you look for alternatives to explore the Napali Coast? Scroll down for more details.
Kauai is wetter than the other Hawaiian Islands, therefore, called "The Garden Island". The rainy season starts in November and lasts until April. The north and east coast gets more rain than south and west which is the leeward side. Mostly showers are short, often in the night, and the sun returns quickly.
The first part of the trail until the Hanakāpīʻai Beach is not any longer accessible without a permit. It'll be less busy in the future. The Kalalau Trail is almost always fully booked. You have to get your permit far in advance. Tuesdays are often not full due to Haena Park closure. Shoulder season in spring between mid-April to mid-June and in fall from September to October. Crowded during summer with hikers and kayaks, during Christmas, New Year's Eve, Independence Day and June 9th is a bank holiday.
Parking at the Kalalau Trail - Haena State Park
Limited parking at Haena State Park of around 100 parking lots, 30 are for local people. A reservation is essential. Don't leave any luggage in the car. It is not safe, and the car might be broken-up!!
Where to Stay
You can stay at Haena State Park and campground, but it is closed every Monday from 10 a.m. to Tuesday 12 p.m. for maintenance. The reason that the Kalalau trail is often not fully booked on Tuesdays. Be aware of leaving your valuables and bags in the car is not recommended. We, a part of the team, saw a couple of rental cars on Kauai which had a broken side window and glass on the ground respectively.
Close by is the town of Princeville; ideally located in the north to buy your groceries and to enjoy the Queen's Bath. Also not far away is the gorgeous Hanalei Beach Park. Have a closer look at the different private apartment rentals and hotels. Princeville Accommodations
The lighthouse is located on the north shore of Kauai at Kilauea Point.
The National Wildlife Refuge which is the area around the Lighthouse is open from Tuesday until Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Sundays and Mondays and major official holidays. If you miss the opening hours, you can get a good but more distant view of the lighthouse from the parking in front of the Wildlife Refuge gate.
To avoid the crowds come late afternoon around 3 pm. This allows enough time to walk around, observe the seabirds flying around and get a closer look at the lighthouse. Pretty busy before midday and especially on Tuesdays. Cars are queuing and the gate will be closed if the two parking areas are full.
If you like to get a view inside the lighthouse, tours are offered only on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm every 30 minutes. If you like to take part come at 10 am and inscribe for the first tour. Places are limited. The guided tour is for free.
The humpbacks migrate to Hawaii and arrive in December, heading back late April. Best months to spot them are February and March just in front of the lighthouse.
The Laysan Albatross colony can be observed from November to July. You can use the provided monocular to see them closer. The nest in an area west to the lighthouse. The nesting birds and chicks can be seen only from the lighthouse area.
Where to stay in the north of Kauai
Princeville is a perfect location where the popular Queen's Bath is located. The St. Regis Princeville is one of the best-rated hotels with private beach access.