Kaua‘i Guide: What You Need to Know Before You Hike Kalalau
Our tips for making sure you’re prepared for this intense trek with a breathtaking view.
Photo: Mallory Roe
Islanders love a good trek, and Kaua‘i’s Kalalau Trail is one of the best. Risky enough to land itself on “most-dangerous hikes” lists. Stunning mountain and seascape vistas so breathtaking, they’ll bring even lifetime Hawai‘i dwellers to their knees. So challenging, you’ll burn off enough calories to justify your second desserts for the next week (at least, as far as we’re concerned).
It’s spectacular, but trekking the whole 11 to 12 miles into Kalalau Valley ain’t for the faint of heart, the beginner hiker or the unprepared. Here are a few things to know before you go:
If you don’t have experience hiking long distances, reconsider. There’s a beautiful lookout point a mere quarter-mile of the hike in that’s a great option for beginners.
Check the weather forecast for thunderstorms, don’t cross flooding rivers and always heed the signs telling you not to swim near the shore breaks. We promise the sign-makers aren’t just trying to hog all the sick body-surfing spots for themselves.
Strip down your load as much as possible, with lightweight food (think dry, easy-to-carry items such as camping meals or pasta) and essentials: a water filter, a good-quality, framed pack and chocolate. Other go-tos: Boots that are broken in, moleskin for coping with blisters, and wipes for—well, you know.
Do the legal legwork way in advance
Kama‘āina are required to get a $15 permit. They sell out fast, especially in the summer months. And, yes, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has been known to regularly ’copter in to the beach looking for permit dodgers, so it’s not worth risking.
Four Great Hikes
Hanakāpi‘ai Beach and waterfall