At the end of the road (Hwy 560) Kee Beach on the North Shore is the starting point of the Napali Coast and Kalalau Trail. The hike to Hanakapiai beach is by far one of the most beautiful trails in all Hawaii. The first two miles of the Napali Coast trail is breathtaking. The Hanakapiai Trail will climb steadily for the first mile to an elevation of 400 feet. Don’t let this discourage you, as soon as you reach the first ½ mile vista, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Napali coastline and an aerial view of Kee beach and the coral reef that creates the protective lagoon at Kee beach, perfect for snorkeling during the summer months.
As you make your way along this portion of the Kalalau Trail you will switchback from coast to valleys, over fresh water streams and waterfalls. As you make your final descent into Hanakapiai Valley you will discover jungles of twisted vines, wild ginger, banana’s, guava, varied Ti plants and at the end the cool waters of Hanakapiai Stream. The crystal clear river that flows from the falls two miles up river is a refreshing reprieve for tired, hot and muddy feet. Cool off in the river the ocean here is NOT for swimming.
When you reach Hanakapiai stream you will need to cross the stream by boulder hopping. The beach is on the other side and during the summer months this beautiful beach is great for sunbathing, exploring the rocks and caves. But at no time is swimming recommended. The views from the beach back up the valley are magical. Most people make this their turn around point, but for those with the time and endurance can trek up the river trail another two miles through bamboo forest;
During heavy rains and high surf this trail can be extremely dangerous near the river and the shorelines. Do not attempt to cross the river during heavy rains. Flash flooding can occur without notice.
Heading into Kauai’s interior and remote terrain offers dome of the most beautiful backdrops on the world. By doing a little planning and being prepared you will make your hiking trip one of your best Kauai experiences.
- Hiking Plan Always tell someone where you are hiking (name and location of trail) you plan to hike and when you plan on returning.
- Water Drink one-half to one full quart of water or sports drink each and every hour you are hiking in the heat. Carry your water bottle in your hand and drink small amounts often. Make sure if you are drinking water from any streams or fresh water sources you purify your water with a purifier is certified to filter microbial leptosporosis or giardia (not all do).
- Food Carry high-energy, salty snacks as well as meals. The hike out is much easier when you provide your body with enough calories to support the extreme physical activity you are engaged in.
- Weather Check the weather before you set off on your hike. Kauai Weather Forecast
- First Aid It is important to know that cuts in tropical climates should be monitored closely. Don not expose open wounds or cuts to river water.
- Proper Footwear There are a variety of footwear options to choose from. The best advise is to wear what is comfortable for you. Do not break in new shoes along a hiking trail.
- Clothing Dress in layers so you can protect your skin from the tropical sun. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen is recommended. A light rain jacket is recommended.
We wanted to see the real Hawaii of the Lost series, and this was it. Our teenage kids had no trouble with the trail at all. My wife, a 48 year old with suspect knees and a life usually free of exercise of any kind was able to complete the hike to the beach and back - though it was challenging. Support and care was required for some of the muddier stretches. The views were majestic and we had a great time at the beach. We warned that since it was winter, there might be no beach at all - but instead we were met with a huge sandy beach that was perfect and awe-striking. My wife and I took 1hrs 30mins to walk back, resting a couple of times to watch the whales in the distance. This hike is a must. The car ride from Princeville was beautiful on its own.