Kalalau Valley: Waterfalls, Rainbows and a Remote Beach

By Coco Zickos
Kalalau Valley from the Puʻu o Kila lookout accessed through Waimea Canyon State Park.  Photo:  Kristen D., Hawaii.com member.

Kalalau Valley from the Puʻu o Kila lookout accessed through Waimea Canyon State Park. Photo: Kristen D., Hawaii.com member.

Tucked away along the Nā Pali Coast is Kalalau Valley, arguably one of the earth’s greatest natural wonders. This pristine hideaway, decorated with a remote beach and surrounded by fluted peaks, is regarded as Kaua‘i’s cathedral. Hawaiians understood its beauty and value as well – this was the most populated of the Nā Pali Coast valleys where a large community once thrived. In fact, Hawaiians are said to have still lived here up until the 20th century. Now, only those who acquire proper permits are allowed to step foot on this unspoiled terrain.

Hiking to Kalalau Valley

Photo:  patrickmoos.

Kalalau Beach. Photo: patrickmoos.

The only way to gain access to this esteemed locale is for the athletically-inclined as it requires an 11-mile hike from Ke‘e Beach. It’s not something that can be reasonably done in a day which is why people usually devote at least two nights of camping within the valley. This adventure is the perfect chance to get away from the “real” world and completely unwind while meandering through hidden paths in the rainforest and relaxing oceanside sans cell phones and televisions. Make sure to obtain a permit long before you decide to head out – it takes about 90 days to process and you are required by law to have one.

Photo:  patrickmoos.

Waterfall on Kalalau Beach. Photo: patrickmoos.

The trail begins with a two-mile hike to the beautiful Hanakapi‘ai Beach. Be warned, you must cross the Hanakapi‘ai stream here and it’s a well-known spot for hikers to run into trouble due to rapidly rising waters. It’s never a good idea to take this journey if there is any possibility of flash flooding so check the local forecast prior to heading out. The rest of the trail can be equally as dangerous in inclement weather, especially at about mile seven where the infamous “Crawler’s Ledge” starts – where the path narrows, hugging the mountain closely on one side and dropping off steeply to the tumultuous sea on the other.

Opting for a Boat or Air Tour of Kalalau Valley

Photo:  patrickmoos.

Cliffs and caves on Kalalau Beach. Photo: patrickmoos.

Facing these challenges might be the last thing you’d want to do on your tropical vacation. If so, you can always book a tour by boat or helicopter and see the valley in all its glory from these two different perspectives. This is the ultimate way to sit back and relax while you soak in the majestic view.

If you do, however, decide to embark on a trek into the embrace of this esteemed valley, be prepared for an unforgettable trip as you commune with nature. Click here for information about Nā Pali Coast State Park regulations for hiking, camping, and boating (including kayaking).

See Also:
Hiking the Kalalau Trail
Hike to Hanakapiai Valley
Kayaking the Nā Pali Coast
Na Pali Coast State Park
Tour the Nā Pali Coast
Exploring the Nā Pali Coast with Kauai Sea Tours

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