Kauai: Hiking the Na Pali Coast


26th Mar 2014

Kalalau Trail, Kauai

Before we left on our trip to Hawaii, we decided that doing a hike while there was on the top of our to-do list and we were so glad that we did because it was beautiful and a great way to explore the tropical lush valleys as we walked the red dirt trails that follow along the Na Pali coastline with it’s awesome views of the turquoise waters below. This hike definitely has it challenges but is doable without too much prior conditioning if you are a fairly active person beforehand. The Kalalau Trail has several steep rocky switchbacks that can be slippery and muddy after rain, so proper footwear is important. Also you really need to bring water and basic supplies in a backpack, such as first aid, food, a light waterproof jacket, a sunhat and a camera.

We did the Kalalau Trail to the¬†Hanakapi’ai Beach 4 miles (return) and then hiked the extra 4 miles (return) to¬†Hanakapiai Falls which has a 120′ waterfall that you can swim below but it’s cold and you need to watch out for falling rocks (according to safety guides). Jeff took a quick swim and went under the roaring falling water, while I enjoyed the warm air and took photos. Climbing the trail to the falls is definitely more challenging than the first 2 mile trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach because it’s steeper and you have to criss cross the river several times using the river rocks as your footpath, jumping across requires balance and confidence.

Important to note that swimming at Hanakapi’ai Beach is extremely dangerous due to rip tides, many visitors have lost their lives by falling into a false sense of security when the waters appear calm. There is a wooden sign at the beach with a tally of lost lives, a harsh and smart warning to those considering the dangerous waters. In my opinion unless there’s a Lifeguard, in Kauai, the waters are enter at your own risk especially in the winter when rip tides are unavoidable and the surf swells are high, but I take ocean swimming pretty seriously and not lightly.

A friend asked me what we did with the Sweet Pea on our hike and my answer was we had Grandparents with us to help with childcare so we could go out on our own, like we did on this hike. We did see people with small children on the hike, some only using fabric baby carriers (which would concern me), others had proper hiking baby backpacks (my preferred safe option) and others brought their 3 year olds with no shoes and end up having to carry their child out because they decided they wanted to be carried (looked dangerous). With all parenting decisions it’s up to you with how comfortable you feel bringing your child. I would personally bring our daughter on the first 2 mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach in a hiking backpack, but not the Hanakapiai Falls hike which had more consequences if you fell, like falling into a river or down a steep muddy and rocky cliffside, but that’s my comfort level.

I hope to someday make it back to Hawaii so we can do more exploring and hiking, because there are tons of trails with their hidden beauty to discover. If you want to find more information I found this website which outlines a bunch of different hikes on Kauai, what to expect and some hiking tips.

4 Responses

  1. I want to go back to there.

  2. Me too and you’ll need someone to look after the sweet pea when you go exploring.

  3. Loved your post! We are planning to go to Kauai in late February 2016. What hiking shoes did you use for your hike?

  4. Thanks Asma, Kauai is a beautiful place and I’m sure you’ll agree. I bought a great pair of Merrell hiking shoes, called the Merrell Women’s Grassbow Sport Waterproof Hiking Shoes. I didn’t need to break them in at all and they are nice and light. Have a great trip!

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