Kalalau Trail – Kapa'a, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

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Kalalau Trail

This narrow coastline trail through the dense Kauai wilderness is among the most beautiful and dangerous in the world. 


The Kalalau Trail winds more than 11 miles through Kauai’s Napali coast. Dense, sometimes muddy, rainforest, rocky inclines, unpredictable weather, and narrow paths along sheer cliffs have earned it the reputation of one of the most dangerous trails in the world. This trek is not for the faint-hearted, however enduring the difficult trip is well worth the effort.

The trail weaves its way between dense rainforest valleys and steep, rocky cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean below. One particularly notorious stretch, Crawler’s Ledge, is no more than a foot-wide ledge of crumbly rock hundreds of feet above the rocky coast. 

Hikers must cross three streams before arriving at Kalalau Beach. Due to frequent, unpredictable downpours, streams can quickly overflow and become impassable. It’s not uncommon for hikers to be stranded along the trail until flooded streams return to their normal levels. Hikers who are willing to make the effort are rewarded with beautiful views of one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world.

Know Before You Go

Limited day and overnight parking is available at the trailhead, but advanced reservations are required. A shuttle runs from nearby Waipa and Princeville to the trailhead. Camping is allowed only with a permit. Sites are available at Kalalau Beach at the end of the trail and at about the halfway point in Hanakoa Valley.

You need to obtain a Trail Permit ahead of time. It's recommended to book well in advance since the trail is in high demand and permits may be unavailable for a few weeks ahead. The trail is patrolled by the park rangers, so keep your permit with you.

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