Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail

Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail

Anyone who’s watched the movie Jurassic Park will be familiar with the famed NāPali Coast. To view the NāPali coast, one would have to be on a helicopter, catamaran, or kayak. Since none of those options appealed to us, we decided on the second best option – hiking it.

The Kalalau trail is the 11-mile trail hugging the coast. This trail requires an overnight stay and a camping permit. The idea of not having a shower at the end of a sweaty hike just wasn’t quite appealing to us, so we opted to do the shorter day hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach, which is a 4-mile out and back, with the option to tack on another 4-mile out and back to the Hanakapi’ai Falls.

First, we had to secure a park & entry or shuttle bus permit, which becomes available 30-days prior to the planned hike, and sells out within minutes. With my luck, I ended up securing the more expensive shuttle service that includes the park entry.

Park & Ride for our 8AM shuttle. We ended up on the earlier 7AM bus since we all had to get past the Hanalei landslide construction zone by 7:30AM, otherwise we’d be stuck on the wrong side of the landslide until 1PM.
There’s no way to hike the trail without advanced planning, to which I said to Joe, “There is one trait to all the people we see on the trail today. We’re all anal.”
Warning signs all over the trailhead, cautioning hikers about all the ways we can meet our demise – from falling off the cliff to getting washed away by flash flooding.
To dying of dehydration
The first half mile to the coast viewpoint is straight up
Through lush greenery
The greenery is what I love about Hawai’i. Coastal SoCal is beautiful, but it pales in comparison to HI as most of our landscape is brown.
Coast viewpoint
Top picture is us at the Coast viewpoint back in 2005, and the bottom is us this time around. Oh how we’ve aged…

Back in 2005, we didn’t make it very far past the viewpoint as I had gotten sick from an apple. The funny thing is that the apple incident is the only thing we remember about that brief hike. As we were hiking, we kept saying to each other, “how come this [trail] doesn’t look familiar at all?”

Kayakers getting a view of the beautiful coastline.
A view of the Hanakapi’ai Beach, something we didn’t get to see 16 years ago.
A stream crossing is required to get to the beach and the Hanakapi’ai Falls trail. Most people either tried hop scotching from rock to rock or took a longer detour to avoid getting wet. The 2 of us just went ahead and walked right in the water. Work smarter, not harder.
View of the beach
Eating our mid morning snack on the beach.

The hike to the beach only took an hour and a half, and Joe’s ankles were still holding up, so we opted to hike to the falls.

The falls trail picks up right after the stream crossing. Beach to the right, and trail to the left.
It’s apparent that most people turn around at the beach as the falls trail is narrower and more overgrown.
The forest canopy offers much needed shade throughout the hike.
There are groves of giant bamboos

Joe’s ankles started smarting a mile in, and I was prepared to turn around before reaching the falls, but he managed to push on, and his efforts were nicely paid off.

Hanakapi‘ai Falls stands 300 feet tall
Joe took the opportunity to jump into the pool to cool off. I opted to stay on land to avoid any organisms from entering any of my orifices. Let’s just say, someone had a brief GI incident later that night, and it wasn’t me.

After a lunch break at the falls, we slowly made our way back. One thing we’ve begrudgingly come to terms with at our age is that we don’t move as fast as we used to. With Joe’s ankles and my knee, we’re hiking more gingerly and getting passed left and right by those who are decades younger than us. Signs of inevitable apoptosis, such is life.

Another view of the beach back at the stream crossing
This is the beautiful view hikers get to see that the kayakers don’t.

Eight miles and 6 hours later, we were back at the trailhead. Sixteen years since our first “not-so-serious” attempt, we’ve finally completed this hike.

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