Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach and Falls
On our second day in Kauai, all present and future Daums were convinced to go on a hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach along the Kalalau Trail. The beach is the first destination on this scenic trail that wraps around eleven miles of the rugged Na Pali Coast.
We started the hike at the Ke’e Beach trailhead before noon. The trail was in shadow for most of the way there, making for cool temperatures and a dark jungly atmosphere. The amount of tropical greenery was astounding: lush succulents, dangling vines, banyan and other odd tropical trees with hanging roots, wild flowers and small purple orchids, ferns, palms, moss, rustling grasses. Wildlife was scarce aside from wild chickens and an assortment of lizards, frogs, and spiders.
Luckily, the trail wasn’t that wet. There were a few steep, slippery, and rutted areas and a couple stretches of mud. The hike was slow going on the way there as my parents aren’t used to the combination of elevation changes and tropical scenery.
About a mile in, we were able to see the overlapping cliffs of the Napali Coast.
Our 8 mile hike.
Father at the start of the hike.
The top of the first hill.
Climbing over roots.
Looking at the flora.
Textured tropical trunks.
Freshly pruned jungle.
Blue waves below.
The first glimpse of the Napali Coast.
Shaded trail with a view.
Spiked spiders everywhere.
Moss and ferns.
Another view as the trail got sunny.
Walking towards the sun.
Me and my pint-sized pectorals.
Crossing a little creek.
Ants on a trunk.
The shafts of light.
Another warning sign.
Crossing the Hanakapi’ai.
By the time we reached Hanakapi’ai Beach, the sun was overhead. We forded the rocky Hanakapi’ai Stream and sat under a tree for a lunch of boiled eggs, cheese and crackers, trail mix, bananas, and water. The waves pounded on the the rocky beach in front of us. It was relaxing.
My sister, J. and I decided to hike another two miles up the stream to see a waterfall. My parents would head back on their own and wait for us at the starting beach.
The hike to the falls was scenic too. It followed the stream, crossing a few times. The crossings involved skillful jumps or accidental soakings. The trail passed through ferns, bamboo forest, and under wild guava trees. Some guava had fallen, but it was very tart. Hanakapi’ai Valley was at one time populated with native Hawaiians that thrived off the bounty of the sea and by farming taro, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Around 1900, coffee was also planted and farmed in the valley by non-natives. However, by 1920 the valley was abandoned as native Hawaiians opted for less isolated locations to live.
The jungle had retaken all the scantiest evidence of habitation.
Hanakapi’ai stream looking into the valley.
A nasty bathroom.
Little grasshoppers on the fern.
Sister and bamboo.
Tart wild guava.
Plants clinging to the underside of a dripping hillside.
Ferns at its misty base.
Hanakapi’ai Falls drops 120 feet into a large pool. There are a few smaller cascades just downstream from the pool. Beautiful. Signs warning of falling boulders were there to discourage people from getting too close, but we hiked up to the pool. Surrounded on three sides by towering cliffs, we listened to the roar of the water and were cooled by the misty breeze. A large slope of ferns and flowers was thriving.
Tree and water.
The blue water of Ke’e Beach.
Kauai’s water is so beautiful.
We began our hike back. It was hot and long, though not as muddy. We were more tired than we expected. Four miles later, and eight miles total, we were back at Ke’e Beach. The chickens ran up to us like our children. They were either expecting hugs or grain. We gave them neither.
The Daums (and J.) got into their Escape with smiles of physical satisfaction. We drove to weird melodies of Brian Wilson. The rest of the afternoon was spent sunbathing at the beach of Hanalei Bay. Beautiful mountains loomed behind us.