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Comments on: Kalalau Questions

Living and hiking on the island of Kauai

Last Build Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 20:32:12 +0000


By: Andy

Sat, 07 May 2016 02:37:29 +0000

Aloha Lindsay, unfortunately, Kalalau permits are very much in demand and the summer months (high tourist season and best weather) fill up and sell out quickly. There are 60 permits allowed per day, and for peak season, you almost have to reserve a year ahead to get the dates you want. Essentially, you have to plan your trip and airline reservations around the permits that you can get. If you go during the fall, there is less demand and the good weather lasts until November (usually). It's the same as other places on the mainland with high demand, such as climbing Mt Whitney where the park service runs a lottery every year. I understand you have your tickets and now can't hike to Kalalau. Please do not consider hiking to Kalalau illegally without a permit. That causes over-use and crowding. There are periodic enforcements, and the most recent was just a few months ago. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is stepping up the enforcement and just released a video to highlight their recent raid: There are alternatives on Kaua'i and many just as nice hikes. If you are set on overnight backpacking, you can go off the beaten track to the bottom of Waimea Canyon. There are great views of the canyon and lots of swimming holes. Access is via the Kukui Trail and then upstream to the Koaie Canyon trail. If you can plan the car shuttle (or want to hoof it both ways), you can also hike 10miles down the canyon to Waimea Town--something very few people see. There are 4 campsites in the canyon that all have a covered table and a composting toilet. Up in Kokee, you could also backpack to the Kawaikoi or Sugi Grove campsites by trails or dirt roads, and then access a bunch of seldom hiked trails. Or stay in the Kokee campground by the big meadow and do all 4 of the spectacular Kokee trails: Nualolo, 'Awa'awapuhi, Honopu, and Alaka'i Swamp trail/boardwalk to Kilohana lookout. All of these campsites, canyon, Kawaikoi/Sugi, and Kokee can be reserved through the same state reservation website. Of course, you can also do the Hanakapi'ai waterfall hike that shares the first 2 miles of the Kalalau trail--that way you get a taste of the Na Pali coast hiking and see the 300-foot Hanakapi'ai waterfall. All of this should fill a week or two easily, and then you'll be stoked to come back to Kaua'i with Kalalau permits next time. Let us know how it goes.

By: Lindsay

Thu, 05 May 2016 11:05:14 +0000

I understand the importance of Permits to keep the land from being overrun. I would gladly pay for one, If there were any left . But there aren't , for months. So my question is , for those who have gone recently . How much is this enforced? Are there actual rangers on the hike ?

By: Andy

Tue, 08 Sep 2015 07:25:11 +0000

Hi Mike, there isn't much fruit on the trail or in the valley. I do remember a few guava trees and once found lilikoi (passion fruit), both of which fruit off and on year-round, so it really depends on the recent weather (wet or dry). One area also has mountain apple, but those are definitely seasonal in late spring (May-June). In the valley, there are some mango trees that fruit in the summer and may still have some, but I've never seen good fruit on them (stringy and blemished). In general, I would never expect to find edible fruit on the trail or in the valley. There are so many hikers and backpackers and so few fruit trees growing wild, and I'd hate to get your hopes up. If you do get lucky and find some, it will be a pleasant surprise, as you had last time.

By: Mike

Mon, 07 Sep 2015 01:23:35 +0000

Hi Andy- My wife and I will be on the trail, and spending 4 nights in Kalalau, in mid October. Can you tell me if we will run across and in season fruit while hiking? When we hiked mid September years ago, the guavas were amazing, and a highlite of our trip. Thanks, Mike

By: Andy

Tue, 06 May 2014 22:25:55 +0000

Hi Hoang, I do not know of anyplace to sell permits, and it's probably not allowed by the permit agreement that you sign. I realize it is almost summer and all the permits are taken right now, but that's the way it is--if too many people went, the place would be crowded and trashed. If you want a permit, try to go during the week, there might still be some available. And if there were a website to sell permits, scalpers would buy all the permits and sell them with a huge price increase. That would actually decrease the number of available permits. I think people can cancel a permit and get a refund up until a certain date, so the state parks should make that permit available again.

By: hoang

Tue, 06 May 2014 06:29:30 +0000

Hey Andi, Do you know where i'd possibly be able to find a forum where people may be swapping permits or selling the permits since they were unable to go? Best, Hoang

By: Brandon Tracy

Sat, 16 Nov 2013 05:25:37 +0000

Hey Andy, I hike the trail a couple years ago in the beginning of october with some male friends of mine. I'm taking my girlfriend on December 5th of this year. She is an experienced backpacker as am I. How discouraged should we be by the rainy season messing up our plans?

By: Andy

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:33:47 +0000

Hi Mark, it's not terrible to hike after dark, I've done it myself, but it's not recommended. After mile 9, you're past the eroded parts, so it's safer, but there are one or two narrow sections. It's light until 7:30 still, so doable with a good headlight if necessary. Right around mile 8 is an emergency heliport, no camping on that. Just inland are some ancient terraces near a stream that made good campsites, but there are now signs that it's forbidden. I would call this an emergency campsite, only if your flashlight goes out and you can't make it to Kalalau or Hanakoa. To answer your other questions: 1) I would count on 1:15 to 1:30 drive. There can be traffic in Kapa'a, and the 10 miles from Princeville through Hanalei to the end of the road is curvy and slow. Then you have the parking issue at the end. 2) The most coveted campsites are those on the beach-side of the trail, once the trail comes out of the forest and runs along the beach. There are a few in the vegetation right on the beach. Then the trail climbs a small bluff before the waterfall at the end of the trail, and there are 3-4 campsites on the bluff overlooking the beach. Secret campsites, what secret campsites??? :-) Of course, it'll be harder to find these in the dark. The main camping area in the forest has lots of space and is easy to find: once the trail reach the beach, look for little side trails to the left into the trees (away from the beach). There is a composting toilet at the N end of this camping area. 3) Having valuables on a trip that includes backpacking to Kalalau is not recommended. You can leave clothes, towels, beach gear in a locked rental car, but I would never leave anything of value (electronics, jewelry, etc.). It's a trip where you should only bring what you can carry on the hike: small camera, smartphone, etc. The solution is to contact the place you're staying before or after the hike and see if they'll store a bag. If all else fails, Kayak Kaua'i in Hanalei has somewhat of a Kalalau hiker's service: you can park there, you can store your bags there, and they will shuttle you to the trailhead. You will of course pay for the service, but then you have peace of mind.

By: Mark

Wed, 04 Sep 2013 16:26:28 +0000

Hi Andi, We will likely get to the trail by 12n - is it a terrible idea to hike after sunset (6:30pm) as it may take 7-8hrs to hike to Kalalau? If so, is there a decent campsite at mile 8? Lastly where are the best spots to camp while at Kalalau - any secret cool spots? Thanks, Mark

By: Mark

Tue, 03 Sep 2013 16:42:56 +0000

Hi Andi, "10yr anniversary mark" here - Super helpful tips. Ok our plans are locked and we fly into Kauai at 9am! We will have to pick up fuel / lighter for stove and then drive to trail head after we land. Your post sparked a few more questions: 1) Is the trail ~1hr from the airport? We potentially may not get to trailhead and be hiking until closer to 12n (hopefully sooner) but if it does take us 7-8hrs to get to Kalalau, any issues with hiking the last hour of trail AFTER sunset (i.e. hiking to campsite from 7-8pm)? or should we overnight at Hanakoa?; 2) Where are some of the best places to set up camp at Kalalau - you implied some "secret places" in a prior post :) ?? Will there be trouble locating in the dark? or will the moon light our way :) 3) Where can we lock our stuff up so we don't have to leave valuables in car at trailhead (as we'll be in Maui 4 days "resorting" prior to our hike). Thanks - we are soooo excited! -Mark