Trip Date 08/21/2017
Posted On 05/10/2018 13:04:07
Destinations | Hiking | Hawaii | Kauai | Na Pali Coast | Cave | Kalalau Trail | Ke'e Beach | Snorkeling
We woke up to some pretty cool television stories and photos / videos of the solar eclipse that, unfortunately, was not visible from Hawaii. We weren't too upset over missing the "once in a lifetime" event, as we already have our calendars marked for April 8, 2024, the date of the next United States total eclipse, which will be visible from our home city of Austin!
If you are up for some hiking while on the island of Kauai, there are so many hiking options along the northwest coast. There are truly hike choices for every level of hiker - from the relatively easy hike that Scott and I chose, to a long and truly challenging hike . . . as well as some moderately difficult hikes. Take a look below for an overview of our day of hiking as well as for some longer (even overnight) hiking options which require a very low cost camping permit.
Northwest KauaiWe enjoyed our sailboat views of the Napali Coast last night, so we headed to northwest Kauai by car today in hopes of seeing some different views of the same coast - this time from a hiking trail along the coastline. After a brief stop along Kuhio Highway at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Scenic Overlook for a spectacular view of the valley, we continued north crossing several of our favorite bridges - the one lane kind!
Ha'ena State ParkAfter finally reaching Ha'ena State Park, we began our search for parking. As we expected, the few parking spaces nearest the trailhead were completely full, as were spaces alongside the road. Another parking lot, about 1/2 mile back in the direction from where we started, was also full, however there seemed to be more movement there. We joined the other cars that were driving around and around waiting to be in the right place at the time. After a short while, a car pulled out and we got lucky. Choosing work before pleasure, we left our snorkeling gear in the car - we would retrieve it after completing our hike.
On our walk to the trailhead, we passed Waikanaloa Wet Cave which, according to Hawaiian legend, was dug along with another nearby cave by the Fire Goddess Pele. While she originally dug them for her lover, she quickly abandoned them when they filled with water.
Before beginning our hike, we made a brief stop at Ke'e Beach. The water was a beautiful blue, and while there were people both on the beach and in the water, it was not overcrowded. We were definitely looking forward to our beach and snorkel adventure, as well as some cool down and relaxation time after our hike.
Hiking the Kalalau TrailHiking the Kalalau Trail beginning at Ke'e Beach and continuing along the Napali Coast for 11 miles to Kalalau Beach is for serious hikers and takes a minimum of one full day each way. During one of our nightly hot tub visits, we met a group of people who did an 8 mile round trip hike - 2 miles to Hanakapi'ai Beach followed by another 2 miles to Hanakapi'ai Falls and then back again. They warned us of the difficulty of the 8 mile journey, so we planned to turn around no later than the beach - but likely even before that as we wanted to have some daylight hours for snorkeling (plus, we wanted to be able to walk tomorrow!).
Although we got a later than recommended start, the day was cooler than our previous days on Kauai, so we were not as concerned about the midday heat cautions. I had read that the first part of the trail was quite popular, so I was pretty confident as we started off. The well marked trail (at least marked with plenty of warnings!) began with an uphill climb on rocky terrain.
Just before the 1/4 mile mark, we caught a glimpse of the beautiful ocean, and then at the actual 1/4 mile marker, we were greeted with a nice view of Ke'e Beach - this time from above.
The turquoise blue water and the sandy beach were calling our names, but we continued on our hike. We knew that we had to make it, at the very least, to the half mile mark as the primary reason for choosing this hike was for the promised views of the Napali Coast.
Decision Points along the Kalalau TrailThe next sought after destination along the trail was Hanakapi'ai Beach, still 1 1/2 miles from our current position. The cool breeze was providing encouragement for us to continue, however the light drizzle was having the opposite affect on our decision. It was the drizzle that won - we turned around and headed back to the trailhead. As we got closer, I started worrying about the downhill hike on the rocks which would now be slippery due to the rain - ugh ... at least we had on proper shoes for the hike!
We retraced our steps, a little confused as we approached the view of Ke'e Beach. It was so beautiful just a short while before. It now looked like a totally different, almost dreary place with not nearly as many people enjoying the water. We continued on, making it to the trailhead just as the sky opened up - how quickly things changed!
Trailhead Cabana at Kalalau TrailWe joined a rapidly growing group of people hunched together under the only semi-dry place near the trail - the trailhead cabana. Although we were ready for our return drive, we learned about places that others had visited that we added to our bucket list - one right here on Kauai. (We also met some interesting people including one young lady who worked in "energy". We thought she meant something like petroleum engineering, but quickly learned that she was referring to human energy - she was an energy healer!)
After more than 45 minutes under the cabana, with no end in sight for the rain, we made the decision to just get drenched ... we had planned on snorkeling (which was not practical at this point) - so instead of getting wet from the ocean, we got drenched from the 1/2 mile walk/run in the rain to our car!
Tips for Hiking in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness ParkHere's a few "must do's" for any hike along the Kalalau Trail - short or long:
- Make advance plans for your hike. If you want to hike the entire 11 mile one way distance (or anywhere beyond Hanakapi'ai Beach), you must purchase a permit. There are a limited number of overnight permits available from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and permits often sell out well in advance.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes, dress appropriately and bring plenty of water plus all necessary supplies for the distance (and number of days) that you plan to hike. While some people hike the entire 11 mile one way distance in a single day, many others take two days, so plan accordingly based on your skill level.
- Start early as parking fills up quickly. Remember, the distance that you park from the trailhead adds double that distance to your total hike since you have to hike both from and to your car.
- Bring your swimwear, snorkel gear and underwater camera along for a well deserved break at Ke'e Beach (near the trailhead). Although the rain kept us away during our visit, the beach is life guard patrolled with reportedly good swimming and snorkeling.
Kauai's Na Pali CoastThere are only three ways to view the stunning Na Pali coastline - by foot, by air or by water. Take a look at our post titled "Sunset Sail in Kauai" for one of the many "by water" options for a picture perfect view.
Hiking on the Garden IslandOf the many hikes found around the island of Kauai, which is your favorite, why, and how long is the hike)?
Total Health App steps today: 8,389
Weather:79F Light Rain and Breezy
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