Hiking Hawaii (1/3) – The Kalalau Trail

Did you know that Kauai, Hawaii has one of the most dangerous hiking trails in America?  It’s true and it is located along the Na Pali Coast on the Island of Kauai.  The Kalalau Trail trail is a 22-mile roundtrip hike that features beaches, waterfalls, streams, and some of the scariest sections of trail that will test your love for hiking.

A breathtaking view of the Na Pali Coast on the Island of Kauai. This coast is on the northwestern side of the island and features breath-taking views of waterfalls and the fierce nature an island offers.

If you choose to brave this hike you will need to get a camping permit in order to make your way to the beach at the end and spend a  night camping out on Kalalau Beach under the stars. Since I’m from Ohio and live in a more urban area, I was left in awe when I saw the stars come out. With no manmade light pollution in this area, you could see the Milky Way Galaxy, shooting stars and the awesomeness of space.

Ke'e Beach by the trailhead of the Kalalau Trail
Ke’e Beach by the trailhead of the Kalalau Trail

This hike has some of the most spectacular views you will ever witness. Looking down into clear blue waters running along the coast you are constantly reminded why these islands are dream vacations.

Ke'e Beach by the trailhead of the Kalalau Trail
Ke’e Beach by the trailhead of the Kalalau Trail

Even with all its beauty, you are also reminded of how dangerous it is and why it isn’t for the faint of heart.

The Kalalau Trail along the NaPali Coast.
The Kalalau Trail along the NaPali Coast.

The trail through most of the hike is roughly 12″ wide and takes you in and out of valleys, over streams, past beaches and through cliffs that would be the end of you, if you slip.

A warning side falling down the side of the mountain.
A section of the Kalalau Trail where a warning sign, having fallen, warns of death due to slipping.

Here we are looking back at a section of trail that has a warning side for hikers. The sign about 30 yards down from the trail, laying on its side, warns hikers that slips will result in death.  This section of trail was not much of anything other than praying you wouldn’t slip.  With nothing to hold onto, we roped ourselves together (there were four of us) and we began to slowly make our way over this section. No part of it was flat and the dirt under our feet was loose.  If we slipped, it was several hundred feet down to the ocean, crashing against the side of the coast.

A warning side falling down the side of the mountain.
The Kalalau Trail, with a warning sign that has fallen, warning hikers about death if you slip.

Although there are some seriously sketchy sections of trail, the views and pockets of nature at its finest make every step worth it.

Hanakapai'ai Waterfall
The Hanakapai’ai Waterfall along the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast.

A few miles from the trailhead you come to Hanakapai’ai Valley.  If you follow the stream it will take you to the incredible Hanakapai’ai Waterfall.  This waterfall is something you only dream about seeing or see in movies.  With a beautiful pool of water at the base of the falls, it was perfect to jump in to refresh after the start of a tough hike. Although the water is a bit chilly, the view the falls offer and the freshwater to refill with, provide you with a chance to recoup and re-energize for the remainder of the hike.

Depending on the tide and time of day, Hanakapai’ai Beach is an incredible spot to hang out as well. This is two-miles into the hike and when the tide is out, offers some unique site seeing.

Hanakapai'ai Beach
Hikers pile stones on Hanakapai’ai Beach.

However, the beach that makes the whole hike worthwhile is Kalalau Beach.

Kalalau Beach
The sun sets on the Kalalau Beach. The Kalalau Beach is only accessible by boat or by hiking the grueling 11-mile trail.

Finally, you have arrived at your destination. You think to yourself, why in the hell did I just do that!? Now, I have to turn around and do it all again to get back to civilization.  This is why you take enough supplies and camping gear, so you can rest and prepare yourself for the daunting trek back.

Kalalau Beach
The campsite at Kalalau Beach.
A waterfall on the Kalalau Trail
A waterfall provides fresh drinking water at Kalalau Beach.


Drinking from a freshwater waterfall is one of the earth’s little treasures. However, if you choose to drink water this way, do what we did, go and buy yourself some type of water filtration system to ensure you don’t get sick.

NaPali Coast, Waimea Canyon
The lookout point in Waimea Canyon which overlooks the NaPali Coast and the Kalalau Trail where we hiked the day before.

Once we made it out the next day, we drove up the Grand Canyon on the island where we were able to view the same section of coast we were the day before. Talk about perspective.  This island has hidden gems everywhere you turn and views that take your breath away.

panorama of the ocean on the island of Kauai

Check back for my next posts about Queen’s Bath and Finding Sea Turtles in a hidden cave.


Would we go to Skyzone again?!

Being a family with four kids and living on one income, most of what we do is budgeted and planned for. And to piggy off a previous post, we enjoy getting gifts that are things we can do with the kids (which this was, thanks to Aunt Gail and Uncle Greg). Of course, we try to plan fun things and do different things with the kids, but when you are talking almost $100 for all 6 of us for an hour of fun, it’s not always feasible. Because we are focused on becoming debt free, we have to make sacrifices and choices on what we can do with the kids, generally leaving only “free” options on the table.

However, this Christmas we received a gift card to take the kids to Skyzone.  If you haven’t been or heard of this place, well, it is a blast! Trampolines from wall-to-wall and best of all, the whole family was jumping, from our two-year-old to us old-timers! (It did take a few minutes to get used to the motion of a trampoline at this age though.)

The kids have all been off school for over two weeks for the holidays and then we had a few snow days, so we decided to take advantage of our last day at home before getting back to the daily grind and it was the perfect way to go get out some energy after not leaving the house for the last 4 days because of the cold.

When we arrived, we had to fill out a waiver and get the “Skyzone socks” to be permitted to go and jump to our heart’s content.  Once we were socked up, we headed straight to the foam pit.  Testing our best natural abilities in flight, we launched ourselves several feet into the air and falling quickly to a large pit of foam square blocks.  Within the foam pit was a swinging ladder where Paul showed the kids how to climb it without falling off.

Parker was the first to attempt the ascent to the other side of the pit.  Slowly and skillfully working his arms and legs slowly and meticulously to maintain his center of gravity, Paul would call out instructions for him to follow.  Halfway through and Parker was on his own, finally making it the other side and earning a Skyzone Wristband.

Next was Eli, half the size of Parker, it was an impressive feat to watch him spread his little body over the unstable ladder and control it.  Slowly but surely, he mastered each rung, pulling himself to the other side of the pit and earning himself a wristband as well!

After the pit, we all went and jumped in the large jump area. Sure enough, Paul was up in the air calling out poses and twisting his body in funny configurations in which the kids would work to mimic. It is amazing how quickly kids adapt to new scenarios and adjust to conform to their current situation. Each kid with a big smile on their face was laughing and working to twist their bodies quickly to keep up and even come up with their own silly poses.

An hour of straight jumping was a blast! What an exceptional way to get out and do something fun and active.