**IMPORTANT PARK NOTICES**
[OʻAHU] UPDATED 9/22/23: Kaʻena Point State Park – Mākua-Keawaʻula Section - DOT Makaha Bridge Replacement Project will affect access to Kaʻena Point State Park, Mākua-Keawaʻula Section. The Mākua-Keawaʻula Section will be CLOSED from Sept. 29-Oct. 1. See Kaʻena site for more details and updates.
[O’AHU] UPDATED 7/12/23: Sand Island State Recreation Area – WATER OFFLINE, in the park, facilities impacted. See Sand Island site for updates.
|Trail Length||22 miles (round trip)|
|Terrain||Wet Gulches to Open Ridgeline|
|Elevation Gain||800 ft|
|Trail Brochure||Kalalau Trail|
|Video||Kalalau Trail Safety Video|
|Park Name||Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park|
DAY-USE RESERVATIONS OR A VALID CAMPING PERMIT, AND PARKING RESERVATIONS ARE NOW REQUIRED TO ACCESS THE KALALAU TRAIL.
The Kalalau Trail is one of the adventurous hiking trails in the world. Originally built in the late 1800s, the trail serves as one of the only ways to access the beautiful Napali Coast via land. In the early days, a similar foot trail linked traditional Hawaiian settlements along the rugged coastline. The trail traverses five valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer, fluted cliffs. The 11-mile trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush tropical valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau. The first 2 miles of the trail, from Hāʻena State Park to Hanakapi’ai Beach, make a popular day hike. Anyone proceeding beyond Hanakapi’ai valley must possess a valid overnight camping permit. The trail to Hanakapi’ai falls and beyond Hanakapi’ai is recommended for experienced hikers only.
For most backpackers in good condition, hiking the 11 miles will take a full day. Those without camping permits for Kalalau Valley are therefore prohibited from attempting the entire 22-mile round trip hike in a day. For those with camping permits, get an early start to avoid overexertion in the midday heat.
For experienced swimmers knowledgeable in local sea conditions, nearshore waters offer limited opportunities for swimming and body surfing. Swimming is not recommended at Hanakapi’ai Beach due to dangerous rip currents and wave patterns. Naturalists will find a number of points of interest. Native and introduced tropical plant species abound. Many rare native plants grow along the trail. Wild goats are often seen along the trail route.
NOTE: It is illegal for anyone to provide commercial boat transportation for drop off/pick-up at Kalalau or Milolii camping areas. Likewise, commercial guided-camping trips (boat and hiking) are also illegal.
The trailhead is located in Hā’ena State Park at the northwest end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 56). Hāʻena State Park is roughly 41 miles (1 1/2-hour drive) from Lihu’e Airport.
In-order to access the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park as well as the Kalalau Trail, visitors have to go through Hāʻena SP. Hāʻena SP now requires advanced reservations for entry except for those with valid camping permits for the Nāpali Coast SWP. Those with Nāpali Coast SWP Camping Permits do not need to make a Hāʻena SP park entry reservation. Upon entry to Haena SP, simply show staff your valid camping permit.
- Camping permits for the Nāpali Coast SWP (Kalalau Trail) are currently available 90-days in-advance.
- Nāpali Coast SWP camping permits are available here —> Camping Permits
- Overnight parking is available at Hāʻena SP via Overnight Parking Reservation if you have an Kalalau Camping permit. Other locations such as Milolii will not be honored for overnight parking.
- A valid Nāpali Coast SWP camping permit grants access to Hāʻena SP.
Hiking to Hanakāpīʻai Valley (2 miles in from trailhead) requires Entry and Parking Reservations at Haena. Anyone proceeding beyond Hanakāpīʻai MUST possess a valid camping permit. Make reservations at www.gohaena.com
Purchase a camping permit here or in person at any State Parks district office. Camping fees for Nāpali Coast are $25 per person per night (Hawaii residents), $35 per person per night (non-residents). A maximum stay of 5 nights is allowed in Nāpali Coast State Park. Within the 5-night maximum, no 2 consecutive nights are allowed at Hanakoa.
*Camping permits for Nāpali Coast SWP often sell-out quickly, particularly during the summer months. Please plan accordingly. Commercially guided camping trips are not authorized. If you see an advertisement for commercial camping along the Nāpali Coast, it is likely illegal.
The authorized camping areas along the trail do not have tables or drinking water. Composting toilets are available at Hanakapi’ai, Hanakoa, and Kalalau. All camping areas are located on shaded terraces near streams.
Route & Trail Sections
KE’E BEACH TO HANAKAPI’AI (2 miles) – DAY PASSES REQUIRED
The first section of the Kalalau Trail stretches from the trailhead located at Ke’e Beach at Haena State Park to Hanakapi’ai valley. This section is a popular day hike for able-bodied hikers. Walking the first half mile will reward you with excellent views of the coast. The summer sand beach at Hanakapi’ai is a popular destination for day hikers. Swimming or wading can be dangerous, however, and is not recommended. The surf and rip currents are variable and often extremely treacherous, but worst in winter when high surf conditions prevail. DROWNINGS OCCUR HERE REGULARLY! Allow 3 to 4 hours to complete the round-trip hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach.
An unmaintained 2-mile trail into Hanakapi’ai Valley leads to a waterfall. After crossing the stream about a mile up the valley, the trail becomes more difficult as it meanders over rocks and fallen trees. The upper half of this trail should be hiked only in good weather to avoid dangerous flash floods and falling rocks.
Allow a full day to complete the 8 mile round trip from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Falls.
HANAKAPI’AI TO HANAKOA (4 miles) – OVERNIGHT PERMITS REQUIRED
More strenuous hiking begins as the steep switchback trail climbs 800 feet out of Hanakapi’ai valley. The trail traverses the Hono o Na Pali Natural Area Reserve in the small hanging valleys of Ho’olulu and Waiahuakua before entering Hanakoa Valley. The reserve harbors a variety of native lowland forest plants.
Near the Hanakoa Stream crossing, a rest area offers a stop for weary backpackers and hikers. Facilities include a composting toilet and two roofed shelters. The shelters are within a complex of old agricultural terraces where Hawaiians once planted taro. These terraces were replanted with coffee plants in the late 1800s, which are still growing throughout the valley today. The poorly marked 1/2-mile trail up the east fork of the stream to Hanakoa falls has hazardous, eroded sections but affords a spectacular view of the falls.
The trail crosses the stream well back in the valley, therefore there is no shoreline access at Hanakoa. In fact, Hanakoa is a hanging valley without a beach – the stream exhausts itself over cliffs at the ocean’s edge.
For experienced hikers in excellent shape, allow for a long day (8+ hours) to complete the round trip from Hā’ena State Park to Hanakoa. Day hikes beyond Hanakoa are not recommended.
HANAKOA TO KALALAU BEACH (5 miles)
After leaving Hanakoa valley, the trail enters drier, more open land which offers little shade from the midday sun. Tired hikers may be urged on by the panoramic view of Kalalau Valley’s fluted cliffs and the coastline beyond. Portions of the trail in this section are very narrow and the dropoff on the ocean side is severe. Use extreme caution, especially during wet weather.
The trail crosses Kalalau Stream near the valley mouth before ending at Kalalau Beach and a small waterfall. Camping in Kalalau is allowed only behind this sand beach. During summer, sea caves just beyond the waterfall provide popular camping shelters, but winter surf removes much of the beach and enters the caves. Shaded campsites are available beneath the trees behind the beach. Ocean swimming is not recommended for those unfamiliar with local sea conditions. Do not loiter beneath the waterfall or near cliff faces as there is a constant danger of falling rocks. A well-marked 2 mile trail into Kalalau Valley ends at a pool in the stream. This trail passes through extensive agricultural terraces where Hawaiians grew taro, the staple crop, from ancient times until about 1920. These terraces are now overgrown with a variety of alien trees, including Java Plum, guava, and occasional large mango trees.
Please check the Kalalau trail safety concerns before you go hiking.
Climate & Seasons
Throughout the year, temperatures seldom drop below 60°F. Summer weather (May to October) normally brings steady tradewinds and occasional showers while winter weather (October to May) is less predictable. Tradewind showers are more frequent during the night and early morning. Infrequent widespread storms cause flash floods.
Travel light. Lightweight hiking shoes with good traction are popular. Camping gear should include a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket, sleeping pad, tent with rainfly, cooking stove and fuel, water purification tablets or filter, first aid kit, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, rain gear, and biodegradable soap.