Kauai: Best hikes? Best time? Kalalau in a day? - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Default Kauai: Best hikes? Best time? Kalalau in a day?

Hey everyone, planning a trip to Kauai and Big Island, one week at each. Want to do a mix of diving and hiking. I have the Big Island pretty well figured out but not sure about Kauai.. and now a recent trip report someone posted from Kauai/Maui has me thinking I should go to Maui too!

Has anyone been to Kauai? Is it worth going in Feb/Mar if my main purpose is hiking on that island? I hear it rains a -lot- in the winter, which also makes the trails hazardous or impassable. I could go in September when the weather is the best but it's not exactly ideal for me, November is another option. Regarding hikes, here's what I've found, correct me if I'm wrong:

- Kalalau (aka Hanakapi'ai) Trail (18km each way, 700m)
I'd like to try to do the whole hike and back in a day. We did the grand canyon rim to river and back in a day and that was 1300m and 28km, so this would be about the same elevation gain there and back, except 8km longer which isn't the end of the world. GC took 8 hours taking our time so I figure this could definitely be done in 10 hours unless the footing is atrocious? Alternatively we could just turn around after 5 hours if we don't make it to the beach.. or forget about doing it in a day and just hike to Hanakap'ai Falls instead?. Is it worth going the whole way if we're not camping or is it repetitive after a certain point since it's a coastal hike? We'd love to camp but we have an infant with us, from what I've read this wouldn't be a good hike to bring her on so she'll stay back with grandma.

- Loop: Down Nualolo Trail, cross Nualolo Cliff Trail, Awaawapuhi Trail (11 mile/1500'/5hrs?)
This one seems like the next best hike on the island?

- Kalepa Ridge Trail* (ridge line between Honopu and Kalalau Valley's)
- Honopu Ridge Trail (8km round trip, rough trail, some bushwahacking, unmaintained)
These two trails are on the ridges adjacent to the two ridges on the trail mentioned above, would it be repetitive doing
these since I assume the views would be somewhat similar or is our time better spent elsewhere?

- Pihea Trail (E from Kalalau Lookout) + Alakai Swamp Trail to Kilohana Lookout?
Worth doing?

- Waimea Canyon Cliff Trail/Waipo'o Falls/Canyon Trail (eat at Shrimp Station)
We will definitely do simply because it's different


Thoughts? Advice? Are any of these trails suitable to bring a 1 year old in a backpack carrier? Thanks!
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 03:25 PM
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A few years ago I camped at the beach at the end of the Kalalau trail in December and the weather was beautiful. One of the most beautiful places i've been to. And your right about what you read, don't bring your baby; there is a section that makes the Rockies feel like they're granite and it's a straight drop of about 50 meters to waves crashing on rocks. Is it worth it to go all the way to the end; sure. But it's nicer if you can stay a few nights. Gotta love those night time beach fires. Have fun and beware of the rip tides.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by Cousin Red

A few years ago I camped at the beach at the end of the Kalalau trail in December and the weather was beautiful. One of the most beautiful places i've been to. And your right about what you read, don't bring your baby; there is a section that makes the Rockies feel like they're granite and it's a straight drop of about 50 meters to waves crashing on rocks. Is it worth it to go all the way to the end; sure. But it's nicer if you can stay a few nights. Gotta love those night time beach fires. Have fun and beware of the rip tides.
Cool, I wish we could camp but you can't have everything. If we can't bring the baby then we're limited to a daytrip, better than nothing I guess. Did you do any other hikes?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 03:54 PM
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There are some restriction on day hiking at Kalalau but I don't know how rigidly they are enforced.

"AS OF JANUARY 1, 2012, DAY-USE HIKING PERMITS FOR THE KALALAU TRAIL HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED. DAY HIKING IS NOW ALLOWED WITHOUT A PERMIT UP TO HANAKOA VALLEY (6 MILES IN FROM TRAILHEAD). ANYONE PROCEEDING BEYOND HANAKOA VALLEY MUST POSSESS A VALID CAMPING PERMIT."

excerpt from Hawaii State Parks website
http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiki...ai/kalalau.cfm
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 05:45 PM
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Have fun! I'm interested in what you find out about Kauai. I go to the Big Island a couple of times a year to go diving. Have you been on the manta dive yet? What dive company do you use?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by Kathryne

Have fun! I'm interested in what you find out about Kauai. I go to the Big Island a couple of times a year to go diving. Have you been on the manta dive yet? What dive company do you use?
Hi we've never been, I just meant we've pretty well figured out what we're going to do on the Big Island. Planning on doing the Manta dive with Jack's Locker or Kona Dive Company. Will do some shore diving at Place of Refuge and Puako. If you have any tips for the Big Island there's a recent thread looking for advice: https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=56979
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:13 PM
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I wanted to do Kauai and the Big Island, but then I too started reading and determined that Maui had a lot of spectacular things. I also determined that the Big Island was plenty big enough for a 2-day trip on its own. So I ended up doing my first trip as one week Maui, then one week Kauai. I knew that Maui was the most touristy of the three, so I thought it would be better to see it first so it would be the awesome start, rather than negatively comparing it to the others. I figured we'd make out second trip one to just the Big Island.

We had a great Maui/Kauai trip, and totally fell in love with Maui. Didn't expect it. It was just so tropical paradise, and the less sun in Kauai actually made it a little less nice by comparison. I'm really looking forward to going to the Big Island next winter, but after that, I'd go back to Maui before Kauai.

We did a more see-everything-try-everything first trip, with some hiking, but not a hiking-focused trip. Now that we've seen the overview, I'd probably do some more bigger hikes next time.

My Maui/Kauai trip is detailed with information and photos here, with a quick highlight TR here.



But as to your questions...
We went in October, and things were very dry, which was mostly nice. I'm not sure about February/March. You might get lucky, and you might not. I know it is common to be unable to do the Kalalau trail in the winter due to bad conditions. Be also aware that in the winter, the water on the north shore (where most of the notable diving is) is largely inaccessible.

The Nualolo Cliffs horseshoe seems to me like one of the best trails. We didn't do it this time, but it's my number 1 for our return trip. I would personally do it and the others listed, rather than doing the similar ridges, though I'm sure that if for some reason you couldn't make Nualolo, the others would still be worthwhile.
Didn't do the Waipo'o Falls trip either. I really wanted to, but everything was bone dry when we were there, and there was no Waipo'o Falls, which seemed to take away the entire point of going.

I thought the Pihea/Alaka'i to Kilohana Lookout trail was well worth it, but here's a pretty complete set of photos to decide for yourself. It was a nice mix of different things. Great starting view, red dirt, jungle, crazy mountaintop swamp, and then nice view at the end. A kid in a backpack carrier would be fine on this trail as long as you're careful in a couple places. (I'd be happy to specify if you'd like more info).
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:45 PM
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I have been to Kalalau Beach twice, in 2002 and 2012, and haven't seen anyone checking the permits. BUT, doing that trail in one day is rather pointless; it is not a training run, one should enjoy the unique scenery and experience.
The first leg of that trail, to Hanakapi'ai beach, and then to the waterfall up the valley, makes a nice day outing. Swimming under that waterfall is very memorable.
There is another waterfall in Hanakoa Valley, supposedly good, but, being short on time we couldn't find it.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by qwimjim

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Kathryne

Have fun! I'm interested in what you find out about Kauai. I go to the Big Island a couple of times a year to go diving. Have you been on the manta dive yet? What dive company do you use?
Hi we've never been, I just meant we've pretty well figured out what we're going to do on the Big Island. Planning on doing the Manta dive with Jack's Locker or Kona Dive Company. Will do some shore diving at Place of Refuge and Puako. If you have any tips for the Big Island there's a recent thread looking for advice: https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=56979
Stick with Jack's, or try Big Island Divers. I've heard Kona Dive isn't great but I don't have any personal experience with them. I use Big Island Divers pretty much exclusively. They have some great long range and three tanks dives and a good fleet of boats. I'm heading out there again in April and plan on putting on my big girl panties and trying the blackwater dive after the manta dive. I've done the manta dive four times now, and several daytime dives with Big Island Divers.

I'm not sure if you have booked accommodation on the Big Island yet, but we found a gem of a condo just south of Kona. Last year I got a 2 bedroom 2000sq ft condo for $110 a night. This year it was $140/night, but we travel with another couple, so it's reasonable. Holua Resort. It's a bit dated inside, but close to Keahou Harbour (walking distance), so if you want to get out to Captain Cook, I think you still need to go out on a boat licensed to go in there, the Fairwinds is a pretty good way to see it and it goes out of Keahou. It's also close to a KTA and several farmer's markets, 25 mins to two-step. KTA carries local produce, meat, fish and eggs. I prefer it to the horrors of Costco, Walmart or Safeway for food. I do hit up Costco for booze and gas.

OK, sorry about the thread drift. Now I'm getting excited about my 10 days in April!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Kathryne

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by qwimjim

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Kathryne

Have fun! I'm interested in what you find out about Kauai. I go to the Big Island a couple of times a year to go diving. Have you been on the manta dive yet? What dive company do you use?
Hi we've never been, I just meant we've pretty well figured out what we're going to do on the Big Island. Planning on doing the Manta dive with Jack's Locker or Kona Dive Company. Will do some shore diving at Place of Refuge and Puako. If you have any tips for the Big Island there's a recent thread looking for advice: https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=56979
Stick with Jack's, or try Big Island Divers. I've heard Kona Dive isn't great but I don't have any personal experience with them. I use Big Island Divers pretty much exclusively. They have some great long range and three tanks dives and a good fleet of boats. I'm heading out there again in April and plan on putting on my big girl panties and trying the blackwater dive after the manta dive. I've done the manta dive four times now, and several daytime dives with Big Island Divers.

I'm not sure if you have booked accommodation on the Big Island yet, but we found a gem of a condo just south of Kona. Last year I got a 2 bedroom 2000sq ft condo for $110 a night. This year it was $140/night, but we travel with another couple, so it's reasonable. Holua Resort. It's a bit dated inside, but close to Keahou Harbour (walking distance), so if you want to get out to Captain Cook, I think you still need to go out on a boat licensed to go in there, the Fairwinds is a pretty good way to see it and it goes out of Keahou. It's also close to a KTA and several farmer's markets, 25 mins to two-step. KTA carries local produce, meat, fish and eggs. I prefer it to the horrors of Costco, Walmart or Safeway for food. I do hit up Costco for booze and gas.

OK, sorry about the thread drift. Now I'm getting excited about my 10 days in April!
thanks for the info! i looked up holua resort and put a random date in september and the 2000sqft 2 bedroom is $194/night? Maybe it's because we're 4 and not 2? What about this place, is the location good? It seems to be nice and on a beach

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/VacationRe...ii_Hawaii.html

Have you ever thought of doing the Manta dive as a shore dive from the Sheraton or a snorkel? I've read that it's pretty easy to do if the surf isn't too rowdy
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 08:58 PM
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We've done all the hikes you mentioned on your post. Kauai is a beautiful island, but Feb is not Dec and it will likely be wet at times.

Kalalau requires a permit, but I was given to understand that there is a semi-annual crackdown in this regard and no locals seem to respect it. Most folks we met didn't have the permit we'd obtained online, but there was no one to check. The hike to Hanakoa is very beautiful, especially if you find the old trail up the valley to the waterfall. Very beautiful location. It would be a good day hike. Don't let the mileage and vertical fool you. There is way more vertical than it would seem, as not much of the trail is flat at any point. As well, to get the views, one needs to stop at times...

Of all the trails, I like Pihea and Kalalau best. Pihea is otherworldly, with mist and twisted trees...and, if you're lucky, there's a view at the end. Kalalau was most beautiful in a tropical paradise sort of way, though we had our best experience on the "Hippy Highway" up Kalalau Creek...

Hanakoa Basin, Kalalau Trail


Kalalau Trail at the big drop


Big Mango Tree on the Hippy Highway, Kalalau. (we had a few good feeds on these mangos)


Big forest frog (about 15cm long in this pose)
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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quote:Originally posted by msulkers

We've done all the hikes you mentioned on your post. Kauai is a beautiful island, but Feb is not Dec and it will likely be wet at times.
Sorry what do you mean "Feb is not Dec"? I think we'll probably rule out February so our choices of when to go would be mid September or mid November. November would be better because the weather back home is crappy where as September is still nice back home But not if it means there will be significantly more rain and we might not be able to get our hikes in, ah decisions decision..

Do you recommend doing the full hike to the beach and back in a day or just going to Hanakapiai or Hanakoa Falls instead?
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 09:18 PM
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One option my friend does for the Kalalau is to get an unofficial boat ride into the Kalalau Valley, swim from the boat to the beach ( she does it naked, has her hiking stuff in a water proof bag ) and hike back in a day.

Much more relaxed...

She actually stays there for a few nights, she's a bit of a hippy...
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by EugeneK

I have been to Kalalau Beach twice, in 2002 and 2012, and haven't seen anyone checking the permits. BUT, doing that trail in one day is rather pointless; it is not a training run, one should enjoy the unique scenery and experience.
The first leg of that trail, to Hanakapi'ai beach, and then to the waterfall up the valley, makes a nice day outing. Swimming under that waterfall is very memorable.
There is another waterfall in Hanakoa Valley, supposedly good, but, being short on time we couldn't find it.
Yeah, I totally agree here. What's the point of doing a gorgeous trail if your eyes aren't going to absorb any of it? Go do Grouse instead 12 times in a day, or hike some other boring treed trail close to home. No point of wasting precious vacation time if that's what you're after.

And yes, I think one should go to Maui too, sometime. It's totally awesome and there is lots to do and see there. I liked it more than Kauai.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-29-2014, 06:46 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Arnold

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by EugeneK

I have been to Kalalau Beach twice, in 2002 and 2012, and haven't seen anyone checking the permits. BUT, doing that trail in one day is rather pointless; it is not a training run, one should enjoy the unique scenery and experience.
The first leg of that trail, to Hanakapi'ai beach, and then to the waterfall up the valley, makes a nice day outing. Swimming under that waterfall is very memorable.
There is another waterfall in Hanakoa Valley, supposedly good, but, being short on time we couldn't find it.
Yeah, I totally agree here. What's the point of doing a gorgeous trail if your eyes aren't going to absorb any of it? Go do Grouse instead 12 times in a day, or hike some other boring treed trail close to home. No point of wasting precious vacation time if that's what you're after.

And yes, I think one should go to Maui too, sometime. It's totally awesome and there is lots to do and see there. I liked it more than Kauai.
Cool, it seems unanimous, we'll just hike to a waterfall and back and save the full trail for when the kids are old enough and we can camp for a couple of days. What would be the better hike/waterfall, Hanakap'ai Falls or Hanakoa Falls?

Regarding the hikes and the baby back carrier, are any of the hikes I listed suitable? (Nualolo Loop, Pihea, Waimea Canyon Trails, etc..)? Does only going to the falls change anything for Kalalau? We've covered some good ground with the baby, Conrad Kain Hut, Bow Hut, etc.. as long as footing is good we're good. As long as there's no scrambling or downhill slip and slides.

We were originally going to go for 2 weeks and split our time between the Big Island and Kauai but now you've all got me thinking we should add another week for Maui. I'd probably do a couple of days of diving to Molokai, Molokini and Lanai. Though might not do Molokai, the hammerheads seem very hit and miss for $200. For hiking I know of Halemau'u Trail in Halekala NP.. what else should be on our radar?

Thanks!
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