Hanakapiai Falls

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, Hawaii, USA

About Hanakapiai Falls


Hiking Distance: 8-8.5 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 5-7 hours

Date first visited: 2006-12-24
Date last visited: 2021-11-19

Waterfall Latitude: 22.18597
Waterfall Longitude: -159.59487

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Hanakapiai Falls (or Hanakapi’ai Falls) is a very tall (maybe 300ft) waterfall nestled deep in the back of Hanakapi’ai Valley – one of the valleys within the famously scenic and rugged Na Pali Coast in northwestern Kaua’i.

While I’ve learned that most of the waterfalls within the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park were difficult to access, Hanakapi’ai Falls was perhaps the most accessible (and most scenic) of such waterfalls.

Hanakapiai_Falls_025_12242006 - Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapi’ai Falls

In fact, we liked this waterfall enough to put it into our Top 10 List of Hawaiian Waterfalls despite the work involved to reach it.

Indeed, Hanakapiai Falls demanded a good deal of effort from would-be visitors, and that’s because it involved hiking at least 8 miles round-trip (a distance made slightly longer if using the shuttle, which dropped off hikers a bit before the actual trailhead).

The first two miles along the scenic Na Pali Coast between Ke’e Beach and Hanakapi’ai Beach was already pretty strenuous, but that was actually the “easiest” part of the famed Kalalau Trail.

The next two miles veered inland into Hanakapi’ai Valley, and that involved more stream crossings, dicey ledges, and lots of mud.

Hanakapiai_Falls_073_11192021 - One of the gulches that the Kalalau Trail would descend, cross a minor stream, and then ascend within the first two miles to Hanakapi'ai Beach. So progress was slower due to the slippery terrain as well as the undulations
One of the gulches that the Kalalau Trail would descend, cross a minor stream, and then ascend within the first two miles to Hanakapi’ai Beach. So progress was slower due to the slippery terrain as well as the undulations

Indeed, when I first did this hike to the falls in December 2006, it took me somewhere around 5 hours to complete though I was both younger and able to park right at the Kalalau Trailhead.

When I came back to do this hike in November 2021, it took me over 6 hours to complete (not counting the shuttle itself), which I blame on my older age combined with the slightly longer distance to hike from the shuttle drop-off point.

By the way, that shuttle system started in 2019 to alleviate the congestion situation that had gotten worse over the years.

The two-mile stretch between Kalalau Trailhead and Hanakapi’ai Beach was shared with the much longer Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach, which was 9 miles beyond Hanakapi’ai Beach (11 miles from the Kalalau Trailhead).

Hanakapiai_Falls_055_11192021 - Dramatic scenery of the Na Pali Coast unfolding on the descent to Hanakapi'ai Beach near the two-mile point of the hike from the Kalalau Trailhead
Dramatic scenery of the Na Pali Coast unfolding on the descent to Hanakapi’ai Beach near the two-mile point of the hike from the Kalalau Trailhead

Beyond Kalalau Trail, you need to secure a permit for reasons that are more apparent, which I show in the Hanakoa Falls write-up.

What Is The Meaning Behind The Name Hanakapiai Falls?

I’ve read in the literature that Hanakapiai Falls was named after a Menehune princess who apparently died in childbirth while the Menehune were en route to Ha’ena to leave Kaua’i.

In the Hawaiian oral lore, the Menehune were said to be (almost mythically) dwarvish people who were the first humans to have settled the Hawaiian Islands from the Marquesas Islands.

They lived in caves within the mauka (mountains) of the island and often were elusive to the more conventionally-sized humans that would eventually come and settle the island of Kaua’i.

Hanakapiai_Falls_178_11192021 - One of the intermediate waterfalls deep within Hanakapi'ai Valley. The Menehune were believed to be in hiding in the jungles like this away from the ocean
One of the intermediate waterfalls deep within Hanakapi’ai Valley. The Menehune were believed to be in hiding in the jungles like this away from the ocean

Speaking of the others, they were said to have also come from Tahiti (both Marquesas Islands and Tahiti’s Society Islands are part of modern day French Polynesia).

Trail Description from Ke’e Beach Overflow Parking to the Kalalau Trailhead

When I first did this hike back in December 2006, I was able to find parking near the Kalalau Trailhead and Ke’e Beach, and then proceed to hike on the Kalalau Trail.

However, when I came back and did this hike in November 2021, a shuttle system was in place as self-parking required advanced booking, which was very difficult to procure.

This shuttle actually dropped us off at an established parking lot labeled on Gaia GPS as the Ke’e Beach Overflow Parking (I didn’t remember noticing such a parking lot the first time I was here).

Hanakapiai_Falls_014_11192021 - Passing through what I think are taro ponds all watched over by impressive pali as I was walking between Ke'e Beach and the actual Kalalau Trailhead after the shuttle had dropped us off
Passing through what I think are taro ponds all watched over by impressive pali as I was walking between Ke’e Beach and the actual Kalalau Trailhead after the shuttle had dropped us off

Anyways, from that overflow parking, the path started on a boardwalk flanking what seemed to be taro ponds or something being grown in an open area beneath some impressive and imposing cliff on the mauka side.

Immediately after the boardwalk ended, I then followed a wide path surrounded by tall trees providing a good deal of shade (if it’s sunny).

Then, after a quarter-mile from the Ke’e Beach Overflow Parking, I picked up the actual Kalalau Trailhead, which was immediately across the street from a restroom facility.

Some hikers lost their way when the went past the end of the road towards Ke’e Beach, but the Kalalau Trail began before the end of the road, where there’s a shelter and lots of signage around it.

Hiking the Kalalau Trail en route to Hanakapi’ai Beach

Hanakapiai_Falls_021_11192021 - The actual Kalalau Trailhead, which was set back from Ke'e Beach so it can be easy to miss if you think that beach is part of the hike
The actual Kalalau Trailhead, which was set back from Ke’e Beach so it can be easy to miss if you think that beach is part of the hike

From the get-go, the Kalalau Trail immediately started climbing moderately steeply for the better part of the first half-mile.

With the combination of the muddy, rocky terrain and the moderate incline, it was as if the trail warned hikers what they’ve signed up for in terms of the difficulty of the overall hike.

After the first half-mile, the trail still climbed but it wasn’t as steep as the beginning, and it went through a couple of minor gulches where the trail would dip to a low point to cross a minor stream before climbing out of that gulch.

Such undulations certainly added to the level of effort while also slowing down the overall pace.

Hanakapiai_Falls_027_11192021 - There was a lot of climbing in just the first half-mile of the Kalalau Trail from the actual trailhead
There was a lot of climbing in just the first half-mile of the Kalalau Trail from the actual trailhead

Meanwhile, the trail started to reveal coastal features like Ke’e Beach and reefs looking back to the northeast while keeping straight on the trail revealed the scenic pali of the Na Pali Coast.

At roughly 1.5 miles, the trail curved around an emergency helicopter landing site before the trail then started its descent towards Hanakapi’ai Stream and Hanakapi’ai Beach.

Along the way, I was able to get a top-down look at the secluded beach where the thud of powerful waves could be both heard and even felt!

Eventually, the trail would complete its descent with an unbridged crossing of the Hanakapi’ai Stream, which took me around 75 minutes to reach this spot from the Kalalau Trailhead.

Hanakapiai_Falls_089_11192021 - A large group of people crossing Hanakapi'ai Stream where it was very tricky to try to get across without getting wet (one of the reasons why I opted to use water shoes on my second time here)
A large group of people crossing Hanakapi’ai Stream where it was very tricky to try to get across without getting wet (one of the reasons why I opted to use water shoes on my second time here)

This stream crossing was deceptively tricky to stay dry (the main reason why I hiked in water shoes instead of hiking boots that couldn’t get inundated).

In hindsight, it might be wise to bring a change of shoes since hiking in Keens for long distances tended to induce chafing and blisters on my feet.

Hanakapi’ai Beach

Going straight and veering to the right from the crossing of the Hanakapi’ai Stream ultimately ended up at Hanakapi’ai Beach, which was actually a dead-end.

For many visitors, Hanakapi’ai Beach would be a suitable turnaround point (making the hike 4 miles round-trip).

Hanakapiai_006_jx_12242006 - Death tally for Hanakapi'ai Beach that I noticed when I was here in December 2006.  I didn't see this sign when I came back in November 2021
Death tally for Hanakapi’ai Beach that I noticed when I was here in December 2006. I didn’t see this sign when I came back in November 2021

When I first came here in December 2006, the waves crashing into the beach were violent, and I even noticed a death tally sign that counted the number of people who have died at this beach (underscoring the obvious danger of swimming here).

When I came back in November 2021, I didn’t see the death tally sign anymore, and the waves were less violent than I remembered.

Nevertheless, it was possible to check out an alcove or cave when it wasn’t high tide, and there was ample shade towards the back end of the beach for a picnic on a sunny day.

Anyways, I know when I first did this hike, that continuation of the trail from Hanakapi’ai Beach was easy to miss, and I definitely noticed more people trying to figure it out on my second time here.

Hanakapiai_074_12242006 - Waves crashing at Hanakapi'ai Beach.  For many people, this would be the turnaround point back to the Kalalau Trailhead
Waves crashing at Hanakapi’ai Beach. For many people, this would be the turnaround point back to the Kalalau Trailhead

To continue on both the Kalalau Trail and Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail, I had to backtrack to a directional sign by the stream crossing and then continue roughly 200ft upstream to another signed fork in the trail.

Deviating from the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls

From the aforementioned signed fork, the path on the right continued towards Kalalau Beach along the Kalalau Trail while the path continuing straight on the left went to Hanakapi’ai Falls.

Continuing straight to proceed further into Hanakapi’ai Valley, the path briefly went past another clearing and shelter acting as a helicopter emergency landing site.

Then, the trail narrowed considerably as it went into a denser jungle flanked by large bamboo groves and hanging onto ledges over the eastern banks of the Hanakapi’ai Stream.

Hanakapiai_Falls_091_11192021 - This was the signed fork where the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail stayed with the Hanakapi'ai Stream to the left of the trail fork while the main Kalalau Trail continued past the restrooms to the right of the trail fork
This was the signed fork where the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail stayed with the Hanakapi’ai Stream to the left of the trail fork while the main Kalalau Trail continued past the restrooms to the right of the trail fork

Roughly a mile into Hanakapi’ai Valley from the deviation from the Kalalau Trail (taking me roughly 30 minutes to reach), I encountered the first of the remaining four crossings of Hanakapi’ai Stream.

From this point forward, the hike became progressively muddier, wetter, and even sketchy in spots, where I even took a spill on one of the stream crossings given how slippery the rocks were.

Beyond the last of the stream crossings, the trail was especially sketchy as it clung to doubtful-looking muddy ledges by intermediate cascades.

Meanwhile, there were other sections containing false trails as well as landslide detours (typically aided with pink ribbons as hints), where it was easy to lose the path.

Hanakapiai_Falls_217_11192021 - Context of the kind of rough and sketchy terrain, which was way more rugged closer to the Hanakapi'ai Falls (after the last stream crossing) than closer to Hanakapi'ai Beach
Context of the kind of rough and sketchy terrain, which was way more rugged closer to the Hanakapi’ai Falls (after the last stream crossing) than closer to Hanakapi’ai Beach

But eventually after some persistence, I could start to see Hanakapi’ai Falls up ahead, and ultimately after two miles from Hanakapi’ai Beach, I finally arrived at the base of the waterfall itself.

It took me roughly over an hour from Hanakapi’ai Beach or nearly 3 hours from the start of the whole hike to get to this point.

The falls sat at the head of Hanakapi’ai Valley, which was surrounded by imposing cliffs on three sides (so I was keenly aware of the potential for rockfalls here).

Given the level of effort it took to get here, it was common to see people reacting with relief after finally witnessing the falls and momentarily forgetting the struggle it took to get here.

Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_040_iPhone_11192021 - After the effort it took to reach Hanakapi'ai Falls, quite a few people went right into the plunge pool for a swim
After the effort it took to reach Hanakapi’ai Falls, quite a few people went right into the plunge pool for a swim

So the natural reaction would be to swim in the waterfall’s plunge pool, and I even witnessed some people swim all the way to the backside of the falls’ base.

As for the return hike, I had some old maps that claimed the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail was a loop hike, but from what I was able to tell, that loop no longer existed.

Therefore, I pretty much had to hike back out the way I came for a grand total of roughly 5-6 hours round trip on the trail.

The Shuttle Schedule

One thing to consider when taking the shuttle is that they essentially run every 30 minutes from 6:30am to noon from the Waipa Park and Ride (see directions).

Hanakapiai_Falls_004_11192021 - Approaching the shuttle at the Waipa Park and Ride, which was pretty spot on with leaving on my scheduled departure time of 7:30am
Approaching the shuttle at the Waipa Park and Ride, which was pretty spot on with leaving on my scheduled departure time of 7:30am

Note that when I booked for a shuttle, I had to find an available departure time online and then book the ticket there. I happened to book a 7:30am shuttle departure, which left exactly as scheduled.

From the Ke’e Beach Overflow Parking area, the shuttles take off from 2pm to 5:30pm on a first come, first served basis.

This means that between noon and at 2pm, the shuttles do not run.

So this is something to consider when deciding how far you want to go, how much time you want to spend, and any other coordination being done on your own outside the shuttle service.

Authorities

Hanakapiai Falls resides in Napali Coast State Wilderness Park in the island of Kauai, Hawaii. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website. For parking and shuttle reservations, you can visit Go Haena.

Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_007_iPhone_11192021 - A woman directing people where to park when we pulled up at the Waipa Park and Ridge in November 2021
Hanakapiai_Falls_005_11192021 - Looking back at the cars already parked at the Waipa Park and Ride when I showed up for my 7:30am departure time on my second visit to Hanakapi'ai Falls (in November 2021)
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_013_iPhone_11192021 - Looking across the shuttle towards the mauka side. Notice how they pack the shuttles in pretty good COVID-19 or not
Hanakapiai_Falls_007_11192021 - Starting the hike from the Ke'e Beach Overflow Parking Lot, where the shuttle dropped us off
Hanakapiai_Falls_011_11192021 - Walking across what looked like taro ponds on the interlude between the Ke'e Beach Overflow Parking Lot and the Kalalau Trailhead as seen in November 2021
Hanakapiai_Falls_018_11192021 - After the initial boardwalk, the trail then passed between these lush trees on the way to the actual Kalalau Trailhead. This was as seen in November 2021
Hanakapiai_Falls_022_11192021 - Right from the get go, the Kalalau Trail made a pretty moderate climb in the first half-mile
Hanakapiai_Falls_026_11192021 - Other hikers who passed me on the initial moderate climb in the first half-mile of the Kalalau Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_033_11192021 - Finally near the top of the initial climb, the trail terrain seemed to dry up a little bit though it was still full of roots and rocks, which required care so as to not twist an ankle
Hanakapiai_Falls_034_11192021 - Just when you think the climbing stops, the Kalalau Trail still finds stretches here and there that require an ascent
Hanakapiai_Falls_035_11192021 - Some parts of the trail were muddy as they undulated by going down and up smaller gulches like this one
Hanakapiai_Falls_036_11192021 - Looking back towards Ke'e Beach during my November 2019 hike to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_037_11192021 - Context of the Kalalau Trail and parts of the Na Pali Coast in the distance during my November 2019 hike to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_038_11192021 - Although this photo makes it look like the Kalalau Trail was narrow, it was actually pretty wide.  If you go past Hanakapi'ai Beach, then you need a permit because the trail gets even narrower than this
Hanakapiai_Falls_044_11192021 - Close-up look at a particularly rocky and muddy part of the Kalalau Trail as it was ascending out of another minor gulch
Hanakapiai_Falls_053_11192021 - Still continuing along the Kalalau Trail in the first two miles towards Hanakapi'ai Beach
Hanakapiai_Falls_059_11192021 - Somewhere after the first mile of the hike, I was able to better see the contours of the Na Pali Coast. Notice the people on the lower left of this photo providing a scale of how far I had to descend next
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_025_iPhone_11192021 - Approaching a sign indicating a helicopter emergency landing site as I started to descend towards Hanakapi'ai Beach during my November 2021 hike
Hanakapiai_Falls_062_11192021 - Going past another sign indicating that the semi-sloped clearing to my left was actually an emergency helicopter landing site
Hanakapiai_Falls_064_11192021 - Looking up at one of the helicopters circling the island of Kaua'i, which broke the otherwise silence and tranquility of an early hike along the Kalalau Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_065_11192021 - On the long descent leading down to Hanakapi'ai Beach from the Kalalau Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_070_11192021 - Another one of the minor gullies that we had to go through in the first two miles between Kalalau Trailhead and Hanakapi'ai Beach
Hanakapiai_Falls_080_11192021 - Looking down towards Hanakapi'ai Beach as the trail continued to tease its presence
Hanakapiai_Falls_084_11192021 - Some more interesting mountains flanking Hanakapi'ai Valley as I descended towards it
Hanakapiai_Falls_090_11192021 - Looking back at the cars already parked at the Waipa Park and Ride when I showed up for my 7:30am departure time
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_027_iPhone_11192021 - Notice how easy to miss the sign pointing the way to Hanakapi'ai Falls and Kalalau Trail was after having done the crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapiai_Falls_090_11192021 - This pair of women had a little trouble finding the continuation of the trail to Hanakapi'ai Falls until I pointed out this path to them
Hanakapiai_Falls_093_11192021 - The Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail initially traversed through this clearing, which also acted as an emergency helicopter landing site
Hanakapiai_Falls_095_11192021 - Continuing through an open part of the start of the hike into Hanakapi'ai Valley towards Hanakapi'ai Falls during my November 2021 visit
Hanakapiai_Falls_105_11192021 - The Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail passed through several bamboo groves or stalks
Hanakapiai_Falls_110_11192021 - The Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail was progressively muddier the further I went during my November 2021 visit
Hanakapiai_Falls_114_11192021 - More hikers going along the bamboo groves flanking one side of the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_116_11192021 - Still more bamboo groves along the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_120_11192021 - During my November 2021 visit to Hanakapi'ai Falls, there was a distinct smell of guava, and this smashed one on the ground was one of the reasons why
Hanakapiai_Falls_125_11192021 - This was the first crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream since deviating from the Kalalau Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_129_11192021 - More fallen guava adding to its aroma in the air during the Hanakapi'ai Falls hike on my November 2021 visit
Hanakapiai_Falls_135_11192021 - After the first stream crossing in Hanakapi'ai Valley, the trail continued to get narrower and more rugged
Hanakapiai_Falls_142_11192021 - You never know what obstacles that you might encounter like this fallen tree that I had to duck under during my November 2021 visit to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_144_11192021 - This pink ribbon steered me further inland where it wasn't totally clear how to proceed due to false trails or landslides
Hanakapiai_Falls_146_11192021 - The Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail clinging to the banks of the Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapiai_Falls_148_11192021 - This is a part of the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail that was a bit slippery and sketchy during my November 2021 visit
Hanakapiai_Falls_155_11192021 - Getting my first glimpse of Hanakapi'ai Falls where I realized that I still had a bit more to go before reaching its base
Hanakapiai_Falls_154_11192021 - More focused distant look at Hanakapi'ai Falls still in the shadows of its surrounding cliffs in the morning
Hanakapiai_Falls_158_11192021 - I noticed during my November 2021 visit that each stream crossing was preceded by flash flood signs like this
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_033_iPhone_11192021 - The next crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream had a fairly sizable plunge pool to the left of this photo
Hanakapiai_Falls_163_11192021 - Here's a look at this plunge pool with small intermediate cascades feeding it at the third or fourth crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapiai_Falls_164_11192021 - Beyond the stream crossing, there was a bit of a slippery and dicey climb along this wet, rocky ledge to continue towards Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_175_11192021 - At the next (last) crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream, there was a scenic cascade though there were lots of wet boulders with somewhat deep parts of the stream next to them.  It was here that I took a bit of a spill during my November 2021 hike
Hanakapiai_Falls_180_11192021 - The Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail became quite rough and rugged after the last stream crossing, and it was probably because it skirted intermediate cascades like this one
Hanakapiai_Falls_182_11192021 - More unobstructed look at one of the more pronounced intermediate cascades on Hanakapi'ai Stream en route to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_184_11192021 - Context of another cascade with the rough Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail climbing beside it
Hanakapiai_Falls_185_11192021 - Looking across the Hanakapi'ai Stream towards another side cascade feeding the main stream
Hanakapiai_Falls_187_11192021 - Continuing along the narrow and muddy trail leading even closer to the Hanakapi'ai Falls, which was very close at this point
Hanakapiai_Falls_188_11192021 - Crawling over this muddy rock as I was pretty much near the end of the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_190_11192021 - Finally approaching the busy plunge pool before the base of Hanakapi'ai Falls during my November 2021 visit
Hanakapiai_Falls_192_11192021 - Looking up towards the top of Hanakapi'ai Falls from the edge of the large plunge pool
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_036_iPhone_11192021 - One person swimming in the large plunge pool before Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_hike_039_iPhone_11192021 - Looking across the large plunge pool towards the base of Hanakapi'ai Falls where a couple managed to swim and get behind the waterfall
Hanakapiai_Falls_209_11192021 - Last look back at Hanakapi'ai Falls before I headed back to the shuttle
Hanakapiai_Falls_216_11192021 - Looking back at the context of more hikers nearly making it to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_219_11192021 - Looking back at more people making the particularly slippery (last) crossing of Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapiai_Falls_220_11192021 - Noticing some mushrooms or fungi growing on moist fallen trees on the return hike from Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_222_11192021 - Going across this particularly slippery and sketchy wet cliff and surface on the way back from Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_224_11192021 - Going back across the same stream crossings that I had taken on the way in as I was leaving Hanakapi'ai Valley
Hanakapiai_Falls_227_11192021 - Back among the bamboo shoots as the trail was getting increasingly wider and less rugged than the area near Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_241_11192021 - Looking back at Hanakapi'ai Beach as I was making the strenuous climb out of Hanakapi'ai Valley and back towards the Kalalau Trailhead
Hanakapiai_Falls_252_11192021 - It was a relentless uphill as I had to climb out of Hanakapi'ai Valley en route to Kalalau Trailhead
Hanakapiai_Falls_255_11192021 - Bright view back towards the Na Pali Coast with colorful waters near the coastline
Hanakapiai_Falls_256_11192021 - Catching up to more hikers along the Kalalau Trail on the return hike from Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_264_11192021 - The familiar view towards Ke'e Beach as I was about to go downhill towards the Kalalau Trailhead
Hanakapiai_Falls_266_11192021 - Heading down one more gully or gulch backed by pointing mountains on the way down to Kalalau Trailhead
Hanakapiai_Falls_269_11192021 - Finally making it back to the Kalalau Trailhead though I still had a 1/4-mile more to go to reach the shuttle stop
Hanakapiai_Falls_271_11192021 - At least making it to the boardwalk where it ended at the Ke'e Beach Overflow Parking and Shuttle stop
Wet_Cave_006_jx_12252006 - During our first visit to Hanakapi'ai Falls in late December 2006, we spotted caves like this while driving to the road's end. Note this photo and the rest of the photos in this gallery were taken back then
Hanakapiai_006_12242006 - Trailhead for Kalalau Trail as seen in late December 2006
Hanakoa_004_12252006 - Some sections of the Kalalau Trail were muddy and slippery like this one
Hanakapiai_008_12242006 - Looking back at the beaches near the Kalalau Trailhead during our late December 2006 visit
Hanakapiai_016_12242006 - Julie on the Kalalau Trail during our first time here in December 2006
Hanakapiai_017_12242006 - Looking ahead at some dramatic coastlines of the Na Pali Coast
Hanakapiai_025_12242006 - Really have to watch your step on this trail
Hanakapiai_039_12242006 - Julie on the Na Pali Coast Trail en route to Hanakapi'ai Beach with dramatic scenery unfolding as we were approaching the descent
Hanakoa_020_12252006 - Crossing the Hanakapi'ai Stream
Hanakapiai_046_12242006 - Made it to Hanakapi'ai Beach
Hanakapiai_055_12242006 - Looking out from under an alcove at Hanakapi'ai Beach
Hanakapiai_Falls_001_12242006 - Going past an open area as I entered Hanakapi'ai Valley
Hanakapiai_Falls_008_12242006 - Signs pointing the way
Hanakapiai_Falls_009_12242006 - Another stream crossing
Hanakapiai_Falls_010_12242006 - The trail to Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_014_12242006 - Hanakapiai Falls from a distance
Hanakapiai_Falls_016_12242006 - Hanakapi'ai Falls still within sight though the trail got increasingly more narrow and overgrown
Hanakapiai_Falls_017_12242006 - A particularly slippery and partially exposed part of the trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_019_12242006 - The trail started hugging the stream as the valley closed in
Hanakapiai_Falls_022_12242006 - Mini cascades like these get taken for granted when you're concentrating on the trail
Hanakapiai_Falls_027_12242006 - Finally approaching Hanakapi'ai Falls
Hanakapiai_Falls_041_12242006 - Plenty of folks enjoying themselves at the base of Hanakapi'ai Falls on Christmas Eve 2006


The Kalalau Trailhead sits at the very end of the Kuhio Highway (State Highway 560) on the North Shore of Kaua’i about 7 miles (roughly 20-25 minutes drive) west of Hanalei Town.

When I first did the Hanakapiai Falls hike in late December 2006, there was a primitive parking lot with very limited space, especially considering the number of large trucks, SUVs, and RVs parked there.

Hanakapiai_Falls_020_11192021 - The parking lot that was once by the Kalalau Trailhead was now replaced by this restroom facility and some picnic area
The parking lot that was once by the Kalalau Trailhead was now replaced by this restroom facility and some picnic area

Indeed, even back then, I had difficulty finding parking though I did show up at around 11:15am, which was kind of late.

Eventually, I found some spot in an unpaved muddy road turning towards the beach from the main parking lot.

But in general, I figured that the early birds get the worm (i.e. a parking spot) in this case.

When I returned to do this hike in November 2021, the parking spaces could only be reserved in advance.

Hanakapiai_Falls_006_11192021 - The parking lot at the Ke'e Beach Overflow Lot, which was also the last shuttle stop as it turned around from here
The parking lot at the Ke’e Beach Overflow Lot, which was also the last shuttle stop as it turned around from here

Since I wasn’t able to book such a parking spot with an entry pass as they sold out quickly, I then opted to do the shuttle with an entry pass.

That meant that I would park the car (or get dropped off in my case) at the Waipa Park and Ride, which was a mile west of the main part of Hanalei Town.

From there, the shuttle would take me the rest of the way between here and the Ke’e Beach Overflow Parking Lot, where I then had to hike another 1/4-mile to reach the actual Kalalau Trail.

More information about securing parking reservations as well as shuttle reservations can be found at the Go Haena website.

Hanakapiai_Falls_002_11192021 - The fairly large parking lot at the Waipa Park and Ridge just west of Hanalei Town
The fairly large parking lot at the Waipa Park and Ridge just west of Hanalei Town

For some geographical context, Hanalei was about 4 miles (10 minutes drive) southwest of Princeville, 23 miles (over 30 minutes drive) north of the main part of Kapa’a, 31 miles (about an hour drive) north of the main part of Lihu’e, 43 miles (about 75 minutes drive) north of Koloa / Po’ipu, and 54 miles (90 minutes drive) northeast of Waimea.

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Trailside sweep of the falls on the approach from a distance while also examining cliffs


Fairly long sweep from the edge of the plunge pool at Hanakapiai Falls


Semicircular sweep with up-and-down panning while I was seated near the edge of the plunge pool at Hanakapiai Falls


Semicircular sweep from further down Hanakapiai Stream eventually looking at the falls and the surrounding cliffs

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Tagged with: na pali coast, princeville, kauai, hawaii, waterfall, kalalau, hanakapiai, beach, stream, no permit



Visitor Comments:

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Hanakaipiai Falls Advice from a Kamaaina August 11, 2014 10:08 pm by Philippe - I've made that hike four or five times, over the past 40 years, at various times of year. At times, there's a rope to help you cross the stream, as the water will be up to your thighs or higher. Also, there are often nudists here. I recall a fairly awkward moment in a very… ...Read More
Hiking to the falls September 19, 2009 11:58 pm by Chrissy - Breathtaking. Indescribable. If you can handle an 8 mile hike over mud, rocks, and steep terrain, this is a must-do while in Kauai. The pool below feels really cold, but jump in. It is incredibly invigorating. This was the best thing I did in my two weeks in both Kauai and Oahu. I loved it. ...Read More

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