The Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai is known to be one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes in the world. This 22 mile hike takes you through lush rainforests, rocky cliffs, and secluded beaches! People from all around the world plan and save to do this hike, so I feel so fortunate that it was a simple 30 minute flight from Oahu for me. I went with my brother-in-law, and our two friends that were visiting from the mainland. (Cory, isn’t the biggest fan of hiking) With all of us having limited camping/backpacking experience, we were in for quite the adventure!
- Two tents
- Four sleeping bags
- Propane tanks
- Iodine tablets for purifying drinking water
- Propel to cover the taste of iodine
- Food: trail mix, dehydrated meals, ramen, and cookies
- Icy-Hot and advil (You’ll need it)
- Toilet paper
- Camping Permits (Although we never got checked)
We rented all of our supplies through Kayak Kauai and everything was perfect! My brother-in-law set up all of the rental details, so all I had to do was show up with my backpack and hiking boots.
We hit a couple of road bumps prior to starting the hike. I was supposed to fly out Friday night, but I had to change my flight to Saturday morning, which required me to wake up at 3AM. Not ideal. The next road bump we hit was that our taxi driver’s tire blew out right when she dropped us off at the trailhead. The boys changed her tire for her, while Katie and I braided each other’s hair. (Gender stereotypes at their finest) After what seemed like a long morning, we finally hit the trail around 9AM.
This was the most challenging day because we hiked the full 11 miles to the beach at the end of the trail. The two mile marker is where the camping permit is needed to continue. We got our camping permits about three months in advance, and there was barely any spots left. We got lucky. They only allow 60 people to access the trail daily. People that don’t have a camping permit take the trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall. We said we were going to do that on the way back, but never did, because the prospect of hiking an extra 4 miles after our trek was too much to handle.
Most of the trail is a ridge trail which doesn’t get scary until mile marker 7, which is the infamous Crawlers Ledge. We got lucky on the day we did it because there was no rain or wind. I heard that at times, the wind can exceed 40 mph, which is why people literally have to crawl to keep them from falling. Just google Crawlers Ledge if you want more of a visual. I didn’t have time to film/take pictures because I was trying to get through it!
The reason why this trail is so feared is because many people have died falling off the cliffs of this trail. There is absolutely no cell service, so medical care is hard to get if needed. Earlier at mile marker 2, there is a stream you have to cross, and if there is a flash flood warning people get swept away in the stream, which dumps into the ocean. With currents being so strong, people have drowned. Luckily, I was the only one from our group with a close call. In between miles 4 and 5, I misstepped and almost fell off the ridge. I caught myself and thankfully, one of my friends was right behind me holding onto my backpack. I’m not going to lie, at the time it was pretty scary, but now I can laugh about it.
After 11 miles, we finally made it to our final destination just in time for sunset. After setting up our tents and enjoying our food, we all fell asleep almost instantly.
The beach is one of the most isolated beaches in the world due to the fact that the only way to reach it is by hiking. Fun Fact: Kalalau has long term residents that live along the trail. They live off of the land and I assume off of food donations from tourists who backpack the trail. You can easily tell the difference between the backpackers and the long term residents. A few long term residents included a naked couple that slept close to our tent on the beach. The residents were super friendly and grateful for any extra food given to them. I guess there is one long term resident who police were looking for because he tried to throw someone off of a cliff, but most of the “hippies” were very nice and did their own thing, like the naked couple.
Day two was super easy compared to day one, because we only had to hike 5 miles. The only bad part about this day was doing mile marker 7 again which was way worse on the way back up. Only one other couple was camping at our site, so we invited them over to our tents. We made them ramen, and they taught us how to build a fire. This was clutch because we were camping in the jungle and the bugs were EVERYWHERE. Close to our campsite were little pools from a waterfall that made perfect for soaking our sore bodies in. It was like taking an ice bath. We spent the rest of the day feasting on trail mix, dehydrated meals, and ramen while playing cards and listening to a Harry Potter audio tape.
We decided to hike with Harry Potter for some motivation on our last and final day. This day was another easy one with us only hiking 6 miles. Once we got back to the 2 mile marker, there were significantly more people, which was really weird after being so cut off from the outside world for three days. The whole three days, we probably only came across around 20 people. It was so nice to catch a break from the hustle and bustle of Oahu. This was by far the most beautiful and challenging hike I’ve ever done, but it was so exhilarating and fun!
I think the next time I want to enjoy the Na Pali Coast, I will do it via boat tour. 😉