Hike the Kalalau Trail to Hanakāpī‘ai Falls

Kilauea, Hawaii



8 miles

Elevation Gain

600 ft

Route Type



Added by The Outbound Collective

This is a rugged hike with rewarding views of the Na Pali Coast and the 300' tall Hanakāpī‘ai Falls with a private beach. There are no permits required and you can see where they filmed for movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park.

The Kalalau trail begins at Ke`e Beach in Ha'ena State Park which is at the very end of Route 56 (Kauai's coastal road) on Kauai's north shore.

While the full hike is 4 miles each direction, there are two separate parts to the hike.

Part 1: The trail will begin with a steep climb and will open up to incredible views of the Na Pali Coastline along the ocean. The first 2 miles will continue to wind you along the contours of the Na Pali cliffs, have you cross the river and will then lead to Hanakāpī‘ai beach. This beautiful spot should be considered destination plan “B” if the weather turns, or if the river begins to flash flood. You might also find that the majority of the traffic on the trail calls it quits here too.

Part 2: The second 2 miles departs from the beach and will then take you deeper into the forrest toward the falls. This part of the trail will be quite a bit wetter (and potentially muddier) so be prepared to navigate slippery conditions/rocks and exposed tree roots. At some points it can be difficult to determine where the trail goes, but you can generally get back on track by following the brightly colored tape/ribbons that are tied along the trees to mark the course.

Once you reach the waterfall there is a sign that indicates access to the falls are closed, however you can continue on and actually take a dip in the pool beneath the fall.

Other Considerations/ Recommendations:

  • The earlier you go, the less people that will be on the trail. (You know, just taking a hike with 1,000 of my closest pals!) Parking at the trailhead also becomes difficult. The trails/parking lot will be packed after the sun comes up (which might be okay if you are up for a hike before your hike). Leaving the trail before sunrise will also give you the opportunity to witness the sunrise over the Na Pali Coastline (and it will be worth the extra effort!).

  • The hike is not for the faint of heart, and is probably not well suited for children. There are fairly aggressive climbs both up and down. The trail will be very slippery and muddy after rainfall, and flash flooding can occur at the river, so be mindful of weather forecasts before departing. You will also need good footwear, sandals of any kind will not cut it.

  • There is a dangerous shore-break and riptides at Hanakapi`ai beach - use extreme judgement/ caution while out on the beach or entering the water (or you can do your family/friends a solid and just enjoy the views from the shore). The rock piles on the beach help indicate strong currents.

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