Now that things have been opening back up, more and more people are planning those trips that they’ve been prevented from going on for well over a year. I’ve been getting many emails every day with questions on how to visit the Kalalau Trail. I’ve created the following summary that answers most of the questions that I’ve been getting.
There will be a lot of visitors that hike the Kalalau Trail this year. There will also be hundreds of thousands of visitors that won’t be able to see the trail because they didn’t plan ahead. Which category do you want to be in? You must plan ahead if you want to visit.
There are two ways you can visit the trail. You can hike the whole trail (11-miles in and 11-miles back out) or you can hike the first 2-miles of the trail (Day-Use). It can get confusing as to what is required for each type of visitor. Hopefully this article will help you successfully plan your visit.
Hā’ena State Park Day-Use
The first 2-miles of the Kalalau Trail from Ke’e Beach to Hanakāpīʻai Beach is open for day-use without a permit. Visitors must have advanced reservations to enter Hā’ena State Park. Hā’ena State Park has a 900 visitor per-day limit.
A Day-Use Reservation will allow you to:
- Visit Ke’e Beach
- Hike 2-miles along the Kalalau Trail to Hanakāpīʻai Beach and back. (4-miles round trip)
- Hike to Hanakāpīʻai Beach, and from there, hike 2-miles up a side trail to Hanakāpīʻai Falls and back? (8-miles round trip)
Reservations can be made up to 30-days in advance, and no later than the day before your visit. Reservations sell out quickly (very quickly) so I would recommend getting your reservation as soon as they become available (Midnight, Hawaii Time).
Visitors are able to get reservations and enter the park using one of the following methods:
- Drive in – Limited parking vouchers are available. There are only 100 parking stalls. 30 of the stalls are reserved for locals, leaving only 70 stalls available for visitors. You can reserve a parking voucher for $10 at this link: https://www.gohaena.com/.
- Parking Reservations can be made for the morning (6:30am-12:30pm) the afternoon (12:30pm-5:30pm) or for sunset (4:30pm-sunset).
- You cannot stay past your permit time unless you have a permit for the next time slot. For example, If you make a reservation for the morning, you must leave the park by 12:30pm. If you’d like to stay all day, you’ll have to get all 3 reservations.
- If it won’t let you select a voucher for the day and time specified, they are sold out for that time. Choose another date or time.
- Getting one of the parking spaces can be difficult and disappointing if you don’t get one. There is no other place to park. Parking is not allowed along the road. There is a $200 fine for parking illegally and your car may get towed.
- Walk or Bike in – You can walk or bike into Hā’ena State Park with an entry voucher. Get one for $5 at this link: https://www.gohaena.com/ (Note: If it won’t let you select a voucher for the day and time specified, they are sold out for that time. Choose another date or time.)
- Shuttle in – Normally, visitors can shuttle into Hā’ena State Park from many locations on the North shore, but the shuttle is not currently in operation. When it does open up, you can purchase a shuttle ticket at this link: https://kauainsshuttle.com/.
- You can get dropped off via taxi/rideshare app but it may not be as easy to catch as you are used to. Also, there is no cell service in the park so calling for a pickup afterward can get tricky.
- Hawaii Residents: If you are a resident of the State of Hawai’i, and have the ID to prove it, you are exempt from the fee/reservation requirement. 30 local parking stalls are first-come, first-served. Anybody in your vehicle who doesn’t have a local ID, must have a reservation in order to enter.
- There are no reservations held back for last minute pick-up.
- If someone does cancel their reservation, the first person to see the newly opened availability will have the opportunity to purchase it.
- There is no waiting list.
- The system has no way to notify you if someone cancels their reservations.
- Reservations cannot be changed. If the date you want to visit changes, you must cancel your current reservation and make a new reservation if one is available.
- If there are no open reservations, then you cannot visit the park. Remember to plan early next time.
Permit to hike the full Kalalau Trail
Anyone proceeding along the Kalalau Trail past Hanakāpīʻai Valley (2 miles in) must possess a valid Napali Coast State Wilderness Park camping permit whether or not you plan to camp. This same permit allows you to camp at one of two different places: Hanakoa or Kalalau. Permits are $20 per-person per-day. Residents get a $5 discount. If you have a permit, you do not need to make a Day-Use reservation. Your permit will get you into Hā’ena State Park.
Violators of the permit policy may be cited, and those cited will be required to show up in court. Violation of this rule is a petty misdemeanor under Hawaiʻi law, and a conviction will result in a criminal record in addition to penalties.
Availability- The amount of people allowed on the trail at any one time is limited to a small number (Currently 60). Permits often sell out and during busy times of the year can sell out quickly. Currently the State is only issuing permits 30-days out. Get your permits early to ensure you will be able to visit Kalalau.
In addition to a permit, you’ll also need a separate parking reservation or drop-off arrangement.
Limited overnight parking is available for campers with overnight permits for Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. Camping permits must be acquired from State Parks prior to purchasing overnight parking. These spots are available for purchase up to 30-days in advance and users will be charged for the number of days your vehicle occupies the lot (e.g. a one night stay will require paying for 2-days, a 4-night stay will require paying for 5-days, etc.) Visit GoHaena.com to reserve a parking spot.
Other overnight parking options include limited overnight parking at Aliʻi Kai Resort in Princeville. Call (808) 826-9988 for details and reservations. Finding legal overnight parking anywhere else on the North Shore is a problem. If you are staying at a hotel the night before you hike, I’d suggest arranging something with your hotel if they allow it. Or, ditch the rental car and taxi/rideshare into the trail head.
Online Permit System
You can check for permit availability and purchase camping permits online. Visit the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resource Online Reservation System to reserve your permit.
- Visit the Hawaii DLNR reservation system at this link.
- Click “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
- Select Island “Kauai”.
- Select Location “Napali Coast State Wilderness Park”.
- Click “Continue” at the bottom of the page.
- Browse for Availability.
- Click Make Reservation at the bottom of the page. (You’ll have to create an account)
If you are coming to Hawaii to hike the trail, I always suggest getting your hiking permit before you get your plan ticket. I get hundreds of emails from visitors who make their travel arrangements first and then cannot get a hiking permit anytime during their visit. Don’t let this happen to you. There are no exceptions to the rule. A special permit will not be issued to you because you didn’t plan ahead.
Get more information about permits by visiting our Permit page.
You may have heard about the landslide that happened in March and closed the road to the trial. The road is opened back up but you may run into road construction that makes travel time to the trail longer than normal.
Weather can affect your trip. Getting a permit is a risk. Just because you have a permit does not guarantee you will be hiking the trial. The State will close the trail if it deems the trail to be too dangerous. This is usually due to swollen streams during a storm. Hikers can die because the streams get moving too fast and they try to cross them anyway. If the trail is closed, you cannot hike. The State doesn’t pre-announce trial openings so if the trial is closed, they won’t tell you when it will open back up. When they decide it is no longer dangerous, they will open it.
Keep a watch on the weather in the days leading up to the hike. Find a back-up plan just in case the trial closes.
If you have additional questions, you can follow these links to help you find your answer: