Frequently Asked Questions

Permit FAQ

How can I get a permit to hike the Kalalau Trail?

Directions to getting a permit are posted here.

Do I need a permit if I am not camping overnight?

You can hike to Hanakāpīʻai and back without a permit but there are daily visitor limits so you do need a day-use reservation. You MUST have a camping permit if you hike past Hanakāpīʻai EVEN IF you don’t plan on staying overnight.

Where can I camp overnight?

Overnight camping is only permitted at Hanakoa (6-miles in) or at Kalalau if you have a permit. Camping other places along the trail is not permitted.

I checked online and all the permits are sold out. What are my options?

If no permits are available, you can still enjoy the Kalalau Trail for a day hike (day-use reservations required). You can hike to Hanakāpīʻai beach (4-Mile round trip) or to Hanakāpīʻai Falls and back (8-Mile round trip). Permits are available up to 90 days out. Get your permits early to ensure a permit is available.

Are any permits held back for last minute pickup or anything similar?

An additional capacity of 20 people each night will be allowed from May 15-September 7.  These permits (for Hawaii Residents) can be purchased up to 30 days in advance of your first night of camping on a space available basis, to walk-in applicants only, at the Kauaʻi State Parks Office in the State Office Building in Līhuʻe. Permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m.-11a.m., Tuesday through Thursday, each week through the summer.

Kalalau is sold out but Milolii permits are available. Can I use those permits to hike the trail?

No, there is no access from Milolii to the Kalalau Trail. It is a different location (accessible via Kayak) and thus requires a different permit.

Trail FAQ

Is the Kalalau Trail open today?

The Kalalau Trail closes on occasion.  Find out how to know if the trail is open at the following link: Is the Kalalau Trail open today?

What is the elevation change on the Kalalau Trail?

The Kalalau Trail starts and ends near sea level and climbs up and down to 600 ft, 700 ft and 800 ft at times. Total elevation gain is near 5,000 feet. This can make the trail very challenging.

How many days should I spend on the Kalalau Trail?

I would recommend no less than 3 days for the trail. For first time hikers who aren’t necessarily strong hikers, I recommend travelling to Hanakoa on day one, spending time to travel to Hanakāpīʻai Falls and back on the way if you feel you have time. Then, start early and hike to Kalalau in the morning. This way, when you arrive in Kalalau, you have the whole day ahead of you rather than arriving near the end of the day/dark. On day 2, you can relax and explore up into the valley. You can hike all the way out on day 3.


Stronger hikers can hike all the way to Kalalau Beach on day one. If you have more than 3 days, then you can stretch out your relaxing/exploring times.

Can the Kalalau Trail be done (both ways) in one day?

22 miles is possible for advanced hikers/trail runners but it’s not recommended. Some hikers hike into Kalalau on one day and back in another day. Some hikers take two days to hike in or out, camping at Hanakoa inbetween the hiking days. Very few people do all 22 miles in one day.

If it’s your first visit to Kalalau, take the time to experience all that Kalalau has to offer. Admire the beauty of your surroundings and explore the side trails and valleys. Many people who rush the trail on their first visit wish they had allowed more time for the trail. A permit is required to hike the whole trail even if you don’t plan to camp.

Is November (or some other month) a good time to hike the Kalalau Trail?

Kalalau is beautiful year round. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anytime that isn’t a beautiful hike, weather permitting. The difference between the months has more to do with chances of hitting bad weather. It is less likely for the trail to be closed due to weather in May or June than it is during January or February. That doesn’t mean that it will be closed or will be open at any specific time.

Memorial Day weekend is usually great weather but once in a while, a storm comes through and they have to close the trail over Memorial Day weekend.

There’s a slightly higher chance of the trail being closed in the winter months but it’s a beautiful hike in those months as well.  It’s also easier to get permits during those months.

Throughout the year, temperatures seldom drop below 60°F. Summer weather (May to October) normally brings steady trade winds and occasional showers while winter weather (October to May) is less predictable. Trade wind showers are more frequent during the night and early morning. Infrequent widespread storms cause flash floods.

Nobody knows more than a week or so in advance what the weather is going to be like.  Get your permit for the time that fits best in your schedule.  No matter when that is, there’s always a chance the trail might be closed.

Transportation FAQ

What is the best way to get to the Kalalau Trail head?

The trailhead is located in Hā’ena State Park at the northwest end of Kūhiō Highway (Route 56). Hāʻena State Park is roughly 41 miles (1 1/2-hour drive) from Lihu’e Airport.

There are many good ways to get the Kalalau Trail head. Which one is the best one for you depends on your other plans on the island as well as your budget. Kevin Schwoebel provides transportation services.  You can contact him by phone/text at (973) 769-8854. Ground transportation options can be found here.

Can I have someone pick me up on the other side of the trail and drive me back to my car so I do not have to hike back?

There is no other land access closer to Kalalau Beach than the trail head. When you get to Kalalau Beach, the only road to hike to is back at the trail head 11-miles away.

Can I get dropped off or picked up by boat?

Commercial boat drop-offs or pick-ups are illegal.  Hiking the trail IS the experience.  Don’t deny yourself of that once in a life-time experience.

Other than hiking, how else can I get to and from Kalalau Beach?

Between May 15 and September 7 of the year, Kayaking into and out of Kalalau Beach is legal but you must have a Kalalau permit to do so.

Other times of the year, Kayaking is not permitted due to potentially unsafe conditions.

FYI – Kayaking is not necessarily easier. It can be very challenging paddling against the ocean currents for miles.

How do I catch the North Shore Shuttle?

The shuttle runs every 20 minutes daily. You can reserve a spot on the shuttle up to a month ahead of time.  Visit the shuttle page to make your reservation.  

Where can I park my car overnight?

Limited overnight parking is available for campers with overnight permits for Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. Camping permits must be acquired prior to purchasing overnight parking. These spots are available for purchase 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/uber/bus into the trail head.

Services FAQ

Is there cell phone coverage in the area?

There is no cell phone coverage along the trail. You’ll lose cell coverage miles before you even get to the trail head. 

Where can I hire a trail guide?

Commercially guided camping trips are not authorized in the Hawaii State Park.  If you see an advertisement for commercial camping along the Nāpali Coast, it is likely illegal.

Is there water along the trail or do I have to pack all my water?

There are many stream crossings along the trail. You’ll find water around the 2, 4.5, 6, 8 and 10 Mile marks among other places. Boil, filter or treat all drinking water to prevent sickness. Read up on Leptospirosis and it’s effects. A map of water crossings can be found here.

Are there Bathrooms along the trail?

Composting Toilets can be found at Hanakapai’ai Beach (2 Miles), Hanakoa (6 Miles), and at Kalalau (11 miles).

What do I do with my Trash?

Pack your trash out with you. Do not leave trash or other items along the trail. Keep the park beautiful for others.

Gear FAQ

What should I pack?

A sample packing list can be found here. I always suggest hiking poles.

Where can I store my luggage while I'm on the trail?

Luggage/Car storage information can be found here.

Where can I rent camping gear?

Gear Rental information can be found here.

Where can I buy supplies like fuel that I could not bring with me on the airplane?

Kayak Kauai in Wailua, Ace Hardware in Kapaa or Princeville, WalMart in Lihue all carry fuel and other gear.

Weather FAQ

How can I find out about the current trail conditions?

The best way to find out the current trail conditions is to talk to somebody who was recently on the trail. I would suggest joining our Facebook Group and asking there. Often there are hikers who just returned from the trail that can give a report.


Kalalau is very close to one of the rainiest spots on Earth.  It rains on the trail often. Rain in the weather report shouldn’t stop your hike. When the trail is wet, please us extra caution.

Also, always know the weather report. There’s a difference between light rain and a big storm coming in. During storms, the several streams along the trail can turn into fast moving, dangerous rivers. Flash flooding is common. Don’t hike the trail when there’s a storm close by. You may get trapped on the trail and have to be rescued or even worse injured or killed.

Is there a record of the stream water level?

Yes, the DLNR has partnered with the US Geological Survey to measure and record the water levels of the Hanakapiai Stream. Click here to see a graph of the latest levels.

Miscellaneous FAQ

Where is a good place to stay before or after the hike?

Visit our places to stay page here.

What else is there to do on Kauai other than the Kalalau Trail?

Visit our Things to do on Kauai page here.