Kalalau Trail - Napali Coast
Travel Update Summer 2020: Most destinations, sites and parks reopened with limitations. Check the official websites and read our crucial ‘BEST TIME TO GO' and ‘AVOIDING THE CROWDS’ tips:
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
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. To walk the whole path, you need to stay overnight at the campground at Kalalau Beach.
A permit is required for camping, hiking, and even for entering the Haena State Park. Permits are limited, and it is necessary to book almost one year in advance for the peak season. The fee is 20 $ p.p. per day plus reservation fee. Hiking without a permit can cause big trouble with a show up at court! Get a permit first!
The trail leads along the beautiful Napali coast. It is not an easy trail watch for roots, boulders and sometimes the path is washed out. An alternative walk is until Hanakāpīʻai Beach and then along the stream to the Hanakāpīʻai Falls. Kalalau is not a circular trail, in total 11 km and lasts about 6 hours. Carry swim clothes for a bath at the beautiful waterfall. Be prepared the footpath can be slippery especially after rain. After finishing the hike relax and enjoy the picturesque sunset at Kee Beach.
During rain or storm or if the level is too high don’t cross the streams especially not the Hanakoa Stream at the six-mile mark. Torrential and dangerous flash floods can occur. Always observe the sky for dark clouds. Rain may occur in the Waimea Canyon. Several hikers got flushed away while they tried to ford the stream.
Alternatives to Explore the Napali Coast
- Hike the short but very steep Kalepa Ridge Trail
The return trail is 3.5 km / 2 miles long. Very steep, muddy and slippery. The trail is one of the most spectacular hikes on the Hawaiian islands. The views are breathtaking along the whole hike. Bring hiking poles and a bottle of water. It is a short but strenuous climb always down and up on the way back. The trailhead is not marked. At the Kalalau Lookout in the Waimea Canyon State Park starts this amazing hike. The lookout is fenced. Go to the left through a gate and just follow the shoeprints. We add this place soon with detailed information and pic. Have a look at the comment and pictures to get an impression of the scenic beauty.
- A boat cruise along the Napali Coast in the afternoon offers stellar views.
- Book a Sightseeing Flight over Kauai. Not just the short helicopter flights which are usually offered. The duration is one hour. Pictures of the gorgeous flight are already attached.