Kass, Mike, Erica and I hiked the Nā Pali coast in Hawaii over three days, with a few extra either side to explore the rest of Kauai island. It was phenomenal. Highly recommended.
We trekked the 18K from trailhead to camp site and trail end at Kalalau beach. We generally hiked at an above average pace, but took our time with plenty of stops for snacks, photos, and admiration. Elapsed time was just under 8 hours. Trail was a bit muddy in places (to be expected) and generally in good nick. Some pretty exposed sections which will be scary for those without a lot of mountain trail experience, but very doable and plenty of rock to hold on to if needed. Didn’t start raining until we’d run into the ocean after finishing – perfect timing. Dried out before we needed to set up tents.
There’s a small waterfall off to the side of camp which makes for easy water and cleaning up.
Weather was phenomenal. We didn’t take sleeping bags, and could have easily slept under the stars – if we didn’t mind a short pre-dawn shower! Hanging out on the beach after dark in t-shirts, with no bugs, was a special treat. Rain was never a problem because it always dried off quickly.
The beach is only accessible by trail, which combined with permits meant there were very few people around. We did make some friends around a beach fire however.
No hiking today, but Erica and I ran back from the beach up a side trail (~4K each way) to a watering hole for a swim, whence it started raining – becoming a theme. Very tricky trail to follow and we spent a lot of time off of it.
Enjoyed rest of the day hanging around camp, reading, swimming, not doing much of anything. Explored a cave.
Hiked out in similar manner to the way in, though we took a detour up to Hanakoa falls which was well worth it. Felt prehistoric. Incredibly fun trail to bomb back down.
Permits are required and hard to get, at least in mid-June when we went. They are released three months prior to each date, and sell out immediately so you need to be ready on the form as soon as the day ticks over. We missed on our first try, but were lucky to succeed on the second. It appears possible to get around Kauai on public transport, but particularly if you’re exploring other areas I’d recommend a car. It is not a walkable area. The ranger will check each name on the permit against passports at the start of the trail, so make sure to get them right and have them handy.
Before and After
Before the hike we stayed in an Airbnb in Kekaha, a 5 minute drive from the road up to Waimea Canyon. It was a lovely place, very quiet, and close to the area we wanted to explore.
Mike and I ran a loop from Kanaloahuluhulu meadow (Kōkeʻe lodge) out on to two spits overlooking the Na Pali coast, but I had to cut the section after short due to nursing a nearly recovered injury. Went back the next day with Erica to cover the missed section. Pihea trail was an absolute highlight: no views due to weather, but was muddy, gnarly, yet mostly runnable. Be sure to take the short out and back up to the pig fence.
Afterwards we met up with Maya and Erik in Princeville. Best run was an out and back along the Powerline trail. Princeville itself didn’t have much going on – though our Airbnb was spectacular – but it was a short drive down to Hanalei which had great food, beach, and vibes. Postcards was the best restaurant, and I got a great smoothie from Wishing Well. Hiking down to Queen’s Bath with Erik also a highlight.
Overall an exceptional trip I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!