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Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

Jupiter, Florida
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Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

Will be there in June and want to go on a hike with some family. We are all wannabe photographers, so we'd love those iconic shots of the Na Pali coast from the trail. Any suggestions on how far to go without completely killing ourselves with the inclines? Also looked into hiking to Hanakapi'ai falls, but after doing the Road to Hana in Maui, I don't think another waterfall pool is going to be worth 4 miles round trip. Would just hiking to Hanakapi'ai beach satisfy our urge to see the coast? thoughts?

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1. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

the falls is 4 mils each way; so 8 miles roundtrip. People say the first mile will give you the views and take about an hour but it's still moderate. haven't been yet. [also june].

have you thought about the photo tour? might be fun for you all.

Tucson, Arizona
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2. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

If you want to hike the entire two miles each way to the beach, you can certainly do that, but all you really need to do to get some great photos is hike the first 1/2 mile or so.

Kaua'i, HI
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3. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Bear in mind that the Kalalau Trail is one of the top things visitors do here on Kaua'i, in particular the first two miles into Hanakapi'ai Beach.

Be sure to get there early if you want parking (like 7am)....and don't wear clothing that you would mind getting dirty. While it isn't a difficult trail, it isn't a walk in the park either, despite what some guidebooks may tell you. There are roots and rocks and inclines to deal with and our red dirt can be particularly messy if you get muddy....so just bear that in mind.

You can get some nice photos of the coastline from the initial 2 miles in, but again, you are going to be with a lot of company in other visitors who are doing the same thing, so plan accordingly!

Malama Pono,


Laguna Niguel...
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4. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

What Koloagirl said. I'm just wrapping up a week here on Kauai (trip report will follow, just avoiding packing right now...).

So, a quick summary.

We planned all along to only hike the first 1/2 mile to the Na Pali overlook as one of the party is not a hiker. There are two overlooks in this space. The first is about 1/4 mile in and gives you a nice elevated shot of Ke'e beach. Out to the 1/2-mile spot and you can get some nice shots of the coast. Round trip, we spent about 50 minutes to do this. If you look at an elevation view of the trail, you'll see that you go from sea level to about 500 feet so don't think you avoid the climb byt just doing the first part.

Regarding crowds, I can not believe how crowded it's gotten since I last did this in 2009. We arrived about 2:30 (wanted to get more of the sun on the coast than shadows as you would in the morning) and both the regular and overflow parking lots were jammed. From the relatively small number of people on the beach, it looks like the majority were on the trail itself.

If you can do the hike to Hanakai'ai beach I would say to do it. If not, choose the first 1/2 mile option. Early morning for the former, mid-afternoon for the latter.

Wailua, Hawaii
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5. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

You can probably get a good picture if you walk to the right along the beach. About a half mile along the Kalalau Trail is a place called "Windy Point" where you can get the first view down the coastline. It's about a 500 foot uphill climb to get there and anyone in decent shape should have no problem with it. If you don't want to exert yourself, you may want to consider stopping there. And if the winds are strong, you may have a difficult time setting up for photographs. Another iconic photo site is the red dirt hill about 2/3 of the way in where the trail ascends to Hanakapiai. If you go that far, you might as well complete the hike to the beach where there is a very pretty stream entering the ocean. Any large surf can be fun to photograph too as the waves reflect off the cliffs and leaps off one another.

The Hanakapiai Falls trail is muddy and overcrowded, in my opinion. If you want to hike the same distance, consider hiking on the main trail past Hanakapiai Valley to the entrance of Ho'olulu valley at just over 3.5 miles. The trail cuts through a small pass (possibly dynamited during the cattle herding era) and it's a 900 foot drop straight down to the ocean with amazing views all around. Unfortunately, this section is one of the more strenuous to get to.

The trail is in very good shape these days after getting some rehabilitation funding and a stable devoted volunteer maintenance team. Anyone who has been there before 2009 would be impressed with how dry and stable the trail is now, which makes for much easier and safer hiking.

Kauai, Hawaii
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6. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

Please remember that this is your vacation, and just do what feels good to you and your family. Trek as far as you wish and then turn around. At the beginning of the hanakapiai trail...first two miles of the kalalau trail, there is a neat photo op looking down on ke'e beach and the protecting reef.....very nice.

Other than that, the photo ops are infrequent along the napali coast due to vegetation and views blocked. There are a few, and you will be able to figure all that out once you are on the trail. Erica is one heck of a photographer, and does have some impactive views, but the pictures that are on our walls of our hikes, none are from the hanakapiai trail.

We have been hiking the hanakapiai trail for 20 years now, and are quite familar. Actually our last treck was last summer and will be the last time for us........500 to 1000 people are out there with you, the trail is rock strewn and can be muddy and slippery if we have been having rain. My idea of hiking is not lining up like ants marching. There are many wonderful trails all over the island, that have very few other people and are more rewarding.

But, I understand that the visitors continue to flock there in droves, and that will not change. We all have our personal favs, and that is how it should be.

Edited: 24 May 2014, 23:34
7. Re: Hiking just part of the Kalalau Trail

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