Kauai, Hawaii - Part IV: The Kalalau Trail & Chasing Waterfalls

Walk the long road, get dirty, seek magic. 

Hi friends! Happy to publish the fourth and final post about my trip to Kauai, Hawaii. If you missed the previous posts, they can be found here. I kept this post for last, because this is a part of the trip that I was the most excited about, and because this is one of the experiences that I will forever remember. On the last Sunday of November, I decided to hike a part of the Kalalau trail. The Kalalau trail is a trail that is located on the North Shore of Kauai, along the beautiful Nā Pali Coast - it runs for 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley. The hike is a round trip of 22 miles (35 kilometers) total; it's gorgeous, but also quite dangerous in some parts. A permit is required to hike past mile 2 as well as to camp. The permit allows one night camping at Hanakoa Valley (mile 6) and camping at the Kalalau Valley - the permit allows a total of 5 nights of camping. I have not hiked the full trail, but I have so much admiration for the people who do and love reading their stories. 

If you do not feel like hiking the whole trail either, no worries, you can still explore and access this gem. In fact, the first two miles to Hanakapiai stream and beach can be hiked without a permit (4 miles round trip). Once at Hanakapiai beach, you can continue to Hanakapiai falls, a 300 ft high waterfall (2 more miles - so 4 miles from Keʻe beach/8 miles round trip/12 kilometers). The beginning of the trail is quite steep, rocky and if it has rained, it will be quite muddy. Soon after the start of the hike, you will be able to view Keʻe beach and shortly after the first mile, the beautiful Nā Pali Coast starts to appear and it truly is gorgeous. I often say that the most beautiful views are hard to access and in that case, I don't think I've ever gotten a more rewarding view - it was a dream come true. If you do not wish to continue, you could stop here; but if you hike a bit more, it will be downhill and you will arrive at Hanakapiai stream and beach. Hanakapiai beach is gorgeous and offers a great spot to picnic and relax a bit (but the tides are quite strong to allow swimming). From there, you can either be on your way back, or extend the hike by hiking to Hanakapiai falls. I decided to proceed to the waterfall and it took about 2 hours and required crossing the waterfall stream multiple times as well as some light rock climbing (if I first didn't want to get my shoes wet, I went all in toward the end, with the stream going up to my knees). Walking to Hanakapiai falls is walking in the lush jungle and it can really seem like a long way, but when I started seeing the waterfall from afar, it felt so rewarding. By the time I got to the waterfall, I have to admit that I was pretty tired, but it was so beautiful; it felt like the whole world. The water is pretty cold, but you can swim. I don't know how long I stood sitting there, but I had to start getting back to make it back before sunset. I won't lie, the way back was tiring and it felt much longer, but once I was back on the last two miles, the views were once again so beautiful that it felt alright. When I got back to the end, I've never felt so alive. It was the most rewarding hike of my life, but also the most challenging. It was the longest hike I've ever done, but it was so worthy and I've never felt so free.

I really recommend hiking to Hanakapiai falls if you can; it is a once in a lifetime experience. This is a great way to see the Nā Pali Coast - but if hiking is not for you, you can also view it from above and from the coast via a boat tour :)

What to know/how to prepare:
- Permits have to be purchased in advance if you wish to hike the 11 miles. No permits needed to hike up to Hanakapiai beach & falls (here)
For the day hike: 
- Bring lots of water & enough snacks (avoid anything too salty). 
- Wear clothes and shoes that you do do not care about - you will get dirty, especially if it has rained as the trail will be muddy (and make sure you wear the proper shoes as it can also be quite slippery).  
- You will have to cross streams as you access the beach and if you wish to continue to the waterfall. Make sure that the level is low enough and do not attempt to cross if it has rained a lot (the water level then rises and you could be stranded or risk you life - several people have lost theirs). 
- Do not hike if it's raining or has been raining a lot the day before. 
- If you do not hike/exercise regularly, this is still feasible, but it will be difficult. 
- Start the hike early enough so you do not have to hike back at night (plus you will be able to park at Keʻe beach). 
- If you decide to head to Hanakapiai falls, make sure that you will be able to hike it back to Ke'e beach and always keep in mind that the further you hike, the longest you will have to hike back. 
- There are no phone service, so in case of emergency, you will have to hike back to Ke'e beach to ask for help. 

I hope you enjoy these several shots I took along the way (both on the way and on the way back). I do not have many photos of the waterfall as I decided to leave my camera halfway (my mom waited for me at some point) and continue with only my phone (and it's really not the best quality)

Some places in the world, they call us. 

__ Love, always.


Love notes *