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Located on the Na Pali side of Kauai, Hanakapi’ai Falls is a stunning waterfall that is about 300 feet tall and a popular hiking destination. This hike is definitely a challenge but well worth it for the views, photo opportunities, and unforgettable experience. Whether you’ve been to Kauai in the past or this is your first time on the island, Hanakapi’ai Falls holds a special place on every travel itinerary.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Hanakapi’ai Falls and the best ways to make memories here on your Hawaiian vacation.
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One of the top things to do on Kauai, the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail is a challenging route that goes along the rugged terrain of the Kalalau Trail. You can hike to the waterfall from Hanakapi’ai Beach in about two miles. Many people go back towards Ke’e Beach when they are hiking the Kalalau Trail, but the four-mile, round-trip journey to the waterfall is nothing short of epic.
From the beach, you’ll climb about 760 feet in elevation and have a few stream crossings to navigate. If the streams are high and flowing fast, use extra caution or consider turning back for your own safety. Plan to have about two hours for the journey between the beach and the falls. Rain showers are common in this area of Kauai, so you’ll want to be prepared with the right hiking gear, including a good raincoat and water-resistant boots. The water in the streams is not safe to drink, so you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of drinking water for the hike too.
In total, the hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls will likely take you between three and five hours round-trip. It’s a fairly popular hiking route, so you’ll almost always see other people on the trail along the way. Many people choose to hike the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail as an easier alternative to doing the entire Kalalau Trail. However, dogs are not allowed on the Hanakapi’ai Falls trail, so you’ll need to leave your favorite pups at home. It’s also not a recommended trail for young children or anyone who does not have good agility or hiking experience.
Another way to explore the coast is to simply drive to the beaches and canyons for coastline views. It’s also fun to take a kayak or motor boat out onto the water and along the coast. You can camp along the coast or take a guided tour of the area too, depending on your travel style and how much time you have to spend here. A camping permit is required if you want to stay overnight in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park.
But no matter how you plan to visit the area, Hanakapi’ai Falls is a spectacular place to visit and a great workout if you end up doing the hike. You’ll also need to make day-use reservations if you plan to hike, and permit options include entry only, entry with parking, and entry with shuttle service.