The Hanakapiai Trail comprises the first two miles of Kauai’s Kalalau Trail and links Ke’e Beach with Hanakapiai Beach. The trail is popular with locals and tourists alike and is renowned worldwide for its views of the Na Pali Coast.
Many visitors to Ke’e Beach also hike at least part of the way up the Hanakapiai Trail. Hanakapiai Falls is an additional two-mile hike inland from Hanakapiai Beach.
Unfortunately, a permit is now required for tourists to hike the trail. See our Kauai North Shore Information page for complete details. Separate permits are required for hiking past Hanakapiai Beach toward Kalalau Beach.
Hanakapiai Trail Details
Why you should do it: One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with stunning views of the Na Pali Coast.
Area: North Shore / Hanalei
Trail Length: 2 miles (one way)
What To Bring:
- Plenty of Water
- Rain gear (as needed)
- Appropriate footwear
Most any reasonably fit people should be able to make the hike to Hanakapiai Beach, though the hike will require some sweat as the trail has some rather steep parts.
But the trail is relatively wide for the most part, and unlike a section farther up the Kalalau trail past Hanakapiai Beach, does not present any real “fear of heights” worries. The first quarter mile is the hardest, requiring you to navigate a rocky and often slippery path up to the overlook of Ke’e Beach.
There is a stream that must be crossed at Hanakapiai Beach in order to get to the main part of the beach. During heavy rains this stream becomes dangerous. Exercise caution when crossing this stream. Under normal conditions, the stream can be crossed by rock hopping or wading through the stream.
Under dangerous conditions, the current can bash you against rocks and possibly take you out into the ocean where drowning is likely. Conditions can change quickly and more than a few hikers have become stranded on the other side of the stream and unable to make it back to Ke’e Beach. In more than a few cases, hikers have been rescued from the beach by the Coast Guard and other government agencies.
If you go, leave early enough in the day so that you can make it back to Ke’e Beach before it gets dark. Take plenty of water and do not drink any water found in streams along the way.
Wear appropriate footwear. This trail has an abundance of red dirt (and red mud) Kauai is famous for. (Don’t wear your good white tennis shoes.) Trail shoes are recommended. We’ve seen more than a few hikers on the trail, doing the trail on a lark after visiting Ke’e Beach, with a broken sandal in their hands.
This is a day use area so no camping is allowed. Here’s some information from a sign at the start of the trail:
E KOMO MAI – WELCOME to the Kalalau Trail
For a safe and enjoyable experience:
wear proper footwear; bring extra water; be prepared for changing weather conditions; and allow enough time to return before dark.
HIKING DISTANCES/AVERAGE TIMES from Trailhead (oneway):
- Ke’e Beach Overlook 0.25 miles/12 min.
- View both ways down Coast 0.5 miles/25 min.
- Hanakapiai Beach 2 miles/1-2 hours
- Hanakapiai Falls 4 miles/2-4 hours
- Hanakoa Shelter 6.5 miles/4-6.5+ hours
- Kalalau Beach 11 miles/6-10 hours
Hanakapiai Trail Hike Photos
The trailhead is to the left of Ke’e Beach.
The first part of the trail is rocky and has a steady climb.
After about ten to fifteen minutes you will see this overlook of Ke’e Beach.
After you reach the top of the first climb (after about 20 minutes) you will see this view of the Na Pali Coast. It’s the perfect place for your new profile picture.
After the climb, the trail follows the coastline high above. There’s plenty of room on the trail, but be careful near the edge as vegetation can obscure the true ledge.
The first view of Hanakapiai Beach near the end of the Hanakapiai Trail portion of the Kalalau Trail.
Hanakapiai Stream at Hanakapiai Beach.