No cell phone coverage.
Hiking permit required.
Be sure to pack lightly.
Get in shape before the hike (including carrying heavy pack for several miles).
Thoroughly check all equipment BEFORE taking it. Be sure it is solid and well made. Don’t buy or borrow cheap stuff.
Bring extra batteries for phones and cameras and waterproof bags to keep them dry.
Bring a small, solar battery charger.
Don’t pack a stove. Pack dried and fresh food instead.
As of March 1, 2015, Anyone proceeding past Hanakāpīʻai Valley (2 miles in) must possess a valid camping permit whether or not you plan to camp. Permits are required to camp at Hanakoa or Kalalau (Same permit). Permits are $20 per person per day. Good news if you are a resident, you get a $5 discount.
Violators of the permit policy may be cited, and those cited will be required to show up in court. Violation of this rule is a petty misdemeanor under Hawaiʻi law, and a conviction will result in a criminal record in addition to penalties.
The amount of people allowed on the trail at any one time is limited to a small number. Permits often sell out and during busy times of the year can sell out up to a year in advance. Get your permits early to ensure you will be able to visit Kalalau.
You can check for permit availability and purchase camping permits online.
Visit the Hawaii DLNR reservation system at this link.
Click “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
Select Island “Kauai”.
Select Location “Napali Coast State Wilderness Park”.
Click “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
Click Browse for Availability.
Click Make Reservation at the bottom of the page.
(You’ll have to create an account)
• Permits allow you to stay at either Kalalau or at Hanakoa.
• Maximum length of stay is 5 consecutive nights along the Kalalau Trail.
• No 2 consecutive nights may be spent at Hanakoa Valley.
• Hanakoa – Camping allowed on terraces in vicinity of shelters and composting toilet.
• Kalalau – Camping allowed on terraces immediately adjacent to Kalalau Beach and on sand beach above the high wash of waves.
• No camping allowed along streams, in caves or by cliffs.
• During summer only (May 15 – Sept 7) kayak landings are allowed ONLY with a valid camping permit.
• Archaeological Sites in camping areas are protected by law.
• Open fires are prohibited.
• Cook on campstoves or portable grills only.
• Do not move rocks or create fire rings.
• Absolutely no use of emergency helicopter landing pads.
• No trash service. Pack out what you pack in.
• No drinking water – Stream water must be treated.
• Cancellations: refunds are available if at least 15 days prior ($5 cancellation fee)
• Composting toilets at Hanakapi’ai, Hanakoa and Kalalau.
• Restrooms, outdoor showers, trash cans, drinking water and a payphone can be found at the trail head near Ke’e Beach.
Suggested Items To Bring
• Sturdy AND COMFORTABLE back pack
• Light, 2-person tent
• Sleeping bag
• Light but comfortable camper mattress
• Three LED flashlights (hand held, head lamp, lantern)
• Rain poncho
• Water purifier and water bottle
• Clothing, including one change of clothes, swim suit and light jacket
• Hat and long sleeve shirt (for protection against the sun and bugs)
• Two pairs of shoes (one for hiking; one for loafing and emergencies)
• Dried and fresh food (avoid cooking and carrying cooking stoves and pans)
• Multi-purpose knife (like a Swiss Army Knife)
• Gorilla Tape (for repairs and other uses)
• Plastic bags (to carry trash, dirty clothes, and use for protection from rain if needed)
• First Aid Kit
• Needle for removing splinters
• Small rope for hanging clothes and unexpected repairs
• Waterproof matches
• Toilet paper in sturdy, zip-lock plastic bag
• Small poop shovel
• Tooth brush and other toiletries
• Sturdy, break-resistant mirror
• Camera (and extra batteries) to document your adventure
• Dream Journal
• Book to read
• Small pad of paper and pens to write with
The Kalalau Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes on the planet. Hiking along the Napali Coast is awe inspiring and I wish everybody could experience it for themselves. Unfortunately, not every one should hike the trail. The trail is very dangerous. I can’t recommend it for those who aren’t in good shape. I also can’t recommend it for those who aren’t willing to be smart and obey rules and warnings. There are some true accidents that can’t be avoided but there are many other accidents can be.
The Kalalau Trail has been called one of the most dangerous trails in America (See list at the bottom of the post) as well as one of the most dangerous trails on Earth…
Many other accidents/injuries go unreported. The fact is that streams along the trail can swell up to very dangerous levels with little or no warning, rocks can fall from the cliffs above hitting hikers and campers, the trail has sheer cliffs and narrow, often slippery trails, and strong riptides have claimed many lives at Hanakapi’ai. One of the rainiest spots in the world is just a few miles away. It rains between 330-360 days each year on Mount Waialeale totaling an average of 450 inches of rain each year.
Along with all these hazards you also have put up with many ups-and-downs, unstable, loose and narrow paths, sunburn, heat exhaustion, dangerous plants and animals, and leptospirosis. There are no emergency services along the way. There is no cell phone coverage to use to call for help.
Everybody who hikes on the trail should understand these hazards. Everyone should be capable of making smart decisions to minimize these risks along the trail. If hikers can’t do that, then I don’t suggest they hike the trail. I would suggest that everybody familiarize themselves with the trail’s Health and Safety concerns. Know the local weather forecasts and obey the rules outlined by the State of Hawaii when you get your permit.
People spend months planning and saving for this vacation of a lifetime. It’s not worth risking your life hiking where you shouldn’t be or crossing a stream where you shouldn’t be, even if it means missing your flight home.
The Kalalau Trail is amazing. Make your trip amazing by following the rules and being cautious.