Since the Kalalau trail is often mentioned as one of the most spectacular trails in the world we were very much looking forward on hiking it on Kauai, which is the most northwestern island that you’re able to visit of the Hawaiian archipelago. The trail stretches along 11 rugged miles from the Ha’ena Park all the way to the Kalalau Valley, where you ultimately can find a secluded ‘campground’ to stay the night.
This northwestern portion of the Na Pali Coast boasts a spectacular display of an advanced state of erosion cause by extreme weathering over millions of years. The ridges have eroded so severely that they stand nearly upright on the beach. It’s like green, soft curtains cover the many inland canyons and waterfalls as such. A pretty sight – and if you’re up for the challenge you can walk those steep cliffs along the shore.
Keep in mind that this is a hike of a lifetime and must not be taken lightly in any way. To start with, make sure you reserve your Kalalau permit in time. This should be done months in advance, probably even at least half a year. We built our entire vacation around this permit, since we were rather late – that is four months in advance – with the reservation. And due to that, we only had the opportunity to stay for one night in the valley. Up front this made me a bit nervous – I had no idea whether I’d be able to make the hike in one day. And back again the other day with all that foreseeable muscle pain. This is because as a Dutchie I’m not used to climbing mountains.
Eventually the hike in its entirety wasn’t as tough as I’d expected, even tough we had some miserable weather on the way back. But if you’re not a perfervid hiker I’d recommend a two or three night stay in the area for sure. In that case there’s no need to walk the entire 11 miles in one day, since there’s also a campground in the woods after the first 6 miles.
The hike truly is strenuous and with all the stuff you need to carry along (camping gear, food, clothes, ‘MacGyver’ items) it can be very daunting. You must plan for it equipment wise, physically and mentally. From time to time I really felt that I had to accomplish some a military like exercise with all of these items poking and swinging on your back while climbing and descending enormous hills. The biggest challenge however might be to stop and stare every now and then; before you know it you miss another gorgeous vista or waterfall.
The conditions of the trail differ from day to day. We experienced all kinds of climates. On our first day we had the best weather imaginable, not too hot yet with a beautiful sky, as you can see on most of the pictures. The next day however we woke up with rain which didn’t stop until the last mile before getting back to the entrance again. Very annoying, especially since the road is super difficult to walk once its muddy. You slip and slide from mile to mile and you really are doing you’re best not to fall from those cliffs. The weather was actually so bad, once we finally reached the end of it we saw that they’d closed up the trail for the day. So bring the very best hiking shoes you can find along with you. Seriously.
After all of the suffering, once you reach the valley I can guarantee you such a marvellous ‘king of the world’ feeling. Whether you have rain or sunshine, the trail always resemble a Moana-like paradise. You really understand why this part has been the set of so many films because; Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, The Descendants and King Kong; all have been filmed here.
Take a shower under the waterfall, grab a coconut from the tree and let it all of the experiences sink during a spectacular golden sunset along the unspoiled coastline. Look at the rest of our pictures below in here to get an idea of what you may encounter during this fabulous trail!