The Kalalau Trail is one of the most sought after hikes in all of Hawaii and even across the globe. As you trek for 22 miles along a muddy forest trail, wade through streams, scale cliffs, and get up close and personal with the local bugs and goats, you’ll be rewarded by some of the most incredible views you have ever seen. It is by no means an easy hike, but it is worth every single step! Having the right clothing and equipment with you will make all the difference on this beautiful and challenging coastline. Keep reading for everything you need to include in your Kalalau Trail Packing List.
The Kalalau Trail is a 35.4 km (22 mile) long out and back trail located along the North Shore of Kauai. It’s remote and can be dangerous so having a good Kalalau Trail packing list is VERY important. This stunning area is otherwise known as the Na Pali Coast, famous for being one of the most beautiful shorelines in the entire world. Picture this: clear blue waves rolling into white sand beaches surrounded by dramatic cliffs. Lush, green ridges up to 4,000 feet high sprinkled with powerful waterfalls and scenic rivers. All in a protected area with no infrastructure, no roads, and barely any people. This place is paradise!
The Hawaiian Government along with the local community have worked very hard to protect this 17 mile stretch along Kauai`s North shore. The ecosystem is fragile and it`s important to respect the land as well as the wildlife living in the area. Fun fact: Dozens of movies have been shot along this coast including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean!
In total, the elevation gain is 1,883 meters(seriously!) but it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds when spread out over 3-4 days. The trail is broken down into 3 distinct sections:
The first section of the trail runs between Ha’ena State Park and Hanakapi’ai Beach. This section of the trail is 2.1 miles (3.4 km) long, has an elevation gain of 345 meters, and is VERY well-traveled. Many people hike this section daily as it is the ONLY section that doesn’t require a permit and also ends at a beautiful little beach. Just before the beach, you will have to cross Hanakap’ai Stream which may require removing your boots depending on how high the water level is.
As you begin the next section of the trail from Hanakapi’ai Beach to Hanakoa Campground (Halfway Campground) you’ll notice that the trail thins out and becomes much more overgrown. This section of the trail is 3.9 miles (6.3 km) long and offers incredible views of the coast as you crest each ridge along the way.
The third section of the hike is the final 5 mile (8 km) stretch from Hanakoa Campground to Kalalau Beach Campground. Shortly after leaving Hanakoa Campground, you will reach the infamous Crawler’s Ledge. This portion of the hike is only about 100 meters in total, but known for being the hardest and most dangerous part of the Kalalau Trail.
After passing crawler’s ledge and before reaching the Red Dirt Hill, there is a section of muddy trail that shows evidence of landslides in the past. Mesh netting has been laid out to help reestablish the plant life as well as hold the bank. We found this slippery section to be just as dangerous as crawlers ledge and during a hard rainstorm would become VERY scary and unsafe. After Red Dirt Hill you’ll pass through a some thick bushes before popping out onto Kalalau Beach.
This packing list is based on our 3 day, 2 night trek; so feel free to adjust the quantity of certain items accordingly. Our biggest regret was only bringing sleeping bag liners. Make sure to bring a summer sleeping bag year round as it cools off substantially throughout the night. You also need to make sure you are carrying your permits with you at all times.
- Hiking Boots
- 1 Pair of Quick-Dry Hiking Pants
- 1 Pair of Shorts
- 2 Sports Bras (for ladies)
- 2 Tank Tops or T-Shirts
- 1-2 Long-Sleeve Quick -Dry Tops
- 1 Fleece Jacket
- 1 Rain Jacket
- 3 Pairs of Underwear
- 3 Pairs of Socks
- 2 Bagged Salads
- 4 Backpacker Meals
- 2 Packs of Ichiban
- 4 Bags of Pre-made Oatmeal (we added nuts, dried fruit, protein powder and peanut butter)
- 8 Protein Bars
- 4 Oranges
- 2 Apples
- 1 Bar of Dark Chocolate
- 4 Packets of Instant Coffee
- 4 Teabags
- 40-60L Backpack
- 2-3L Camelback
- Waterproof Pack Cover
- Hiking Poles
- Lightweight Tent
- Backpacking Air Mattress
- Summer Sleeping Bag
- Water Filtration System (tablets, steri-pen, or filter)
- Jetboil or other Compact Cooking Stove
- Collapsible Bowls
Toiletries & Miscellaneous
- DIY first aid kit
- Compact Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Bug Spray
- Lightweight Towel
- Lip Chap