Kalalau Trail – The Garden of Eden

So there we were…hiking on the trail when a 60+ year old naked man wearing nothing more than a backpack passed us on the trail and said “welcome to the Garden of Eden…”

Since we had known that we were coming to Hawaii for several months, Jason brought up taking a trip to Kauai to hike the Kalalau trail along the Na Pali Coast.  I had never heard of the trail, but after hearing what Jason had to say about the hike and reading online that it was one of the most beautiful hikes int he world, we quickly made the decision to stop over after leaving Maui.  We also mentioned the hike to my brother Josh since he wasn’t able to come join on us on our trip and he decided to fly over and join as well.

So, we said goodbye to my parents again (this time knowing they would see us again soon) and we flew to Lihue, Kauai.  Josh didn’t arrive until the day after us so we spent our time cruising the coastline and visiting the stunning Waimea Canyon until he arrived.  Once Josh arrived, we settled in to our hotel for an early night sleep before beginning the hike.  Up the next morning at 4:30 am, we made the hour drive north to Ke’e beach where the trail began.

Moving slowly this early in the morning, we climbed the steep steps in the beginning of the trail which brought us to a wonderful cliff edge where we watched the sun rise around us. After only a few miles, we began to realize why this hike is so popular.  The trail followed along the coastline the entire way, curving in toward beautiful waterfalls and then out again along drop-offs that fell into the ocean.  The trail was not very wide in some areas and it was important to watch our footing at all times.  The scariest part of the whole trail was about half way to the beach when we had to walk down loose rock and unstable ground as the ocean pounded below right over the edge.  We had heard about this area of the trail beforehand and even though it wasn’t as bad as we had thought, we were happy when it was over.

As we continued along the trail, the green backdrop up against the blue ocean became more and more amazing.  All three of us stopped several times just to take it all in.  As we made it to mile 9, the sign for Kalalau beach (our final destination) appeared and so did more spectacular views.  From above, we could see the amazing stretch of white sand with beautiful green mountains towering over it.  Happy to be almost to our campsite, we climbed down toward the ocean and eventually made our way to “the beach”.

Arriving at Kalalau beach was an experience we had been slightly prepared for.  A few people had mentioned the naked hippies and when our 60 year old naked friend passed us on the trail, we had a feeling for what we were getting ourselves in to.  Walking through the camping area, we found everyone from long-term tenants who had made this place a home to people like us who were just passing through for a night or two.  Because we were limited on time and camping gear, we were only staying for one night.  The beach is only accessible by hiking the 11-miles in/out or by hiring a boat to drop you off and pick you up.  We were so happy that we had made the hike and got to see all the views along the way, but we all commented on how next time, we will hire a boat so we can bring a cooler with some beer and stay for more than one night.

Since we didn’t carry a tent (it was too heavy), we laid out our tarp on the beach, thinking that would be the most comfortable place to sleep.  When the sun started to set, a few dark clouds rolled in and we began to worry.  Jason remembered an area near by with a cliff overhead where we could sleep underneath, so we moved our set up a little ways down the beach.  Lucky for us, it didn’t rain and in the morning, we awoke to a typical day at Kalalau beach…several different naked men were up brewing coffee, cooking breakfast and doing yoga.  🙂

After our wonderful morning show, we had a quick breakfast and got back on the trail for our 11 mile hike out.  It was a long and tiring trip out, but eventually we made our way back to Ke’e beach where we celebrated with a quick dip in the ocean before heading to our hotel.

The following day we gave our legs some rest and relaxed together at the hotel before heading back out to Waimea Canyon.  Josh didn’t get a chance to see the canyon since we went before he arrived so I took another trip with him so he could see the great views as well.  Soon it was time for Josh to head back to Maui.  We spent our last day loungin’ at the beach and snorkeling around Tunnel Beach.  We saw a few cool fish, but after all of the snorkeling we did around Asia, Kauai just didn’t compare.

Once Josh had flown back to Maui, it was time for us to move on as well.  We boarded a flight to Honolulu where we spent just one night before heading back to the mainland.  We are very thankful to Scott & Robin (my parent’s friends) for putting us up and taking great care of us in Honolulu, we enjoyed checking out Diamond Head and Waikiki for a few days.

Finally it was time to jump on our plane to LAX.  We were very excited to make our way to southern California not only to see many friends but to celebrate the marriage of our friends Erick & Mandy!

Highlights

  • Of course the Kalalau trail and all of its naked hippies
  • The drive through Waimea canyon, it was so nice, some of us did it twice!
  • Having more quality time with Josh
  • Scoring some awesome burritos from a taco truck in Poipu
  • The entire north coast of Kauai, the backdrop is fantastic

Lowlights

  • So many noisy helicopters and boats along the Na Pali coast while hiking, we know other people want to see the great views too, but it took away from the secluded atmosphere of the hike
Waimea Canyon
First view of the Na Pali Coast from the end of Waimea Canyon
Trying to take in the beauty of the hike
The pictures don't do it justice
After making it past the "sketchy" part of the trail with steep dropoffs
So happy we could share this with Josh
Catching our first glance of Kalalau beach and its beautiful backdrop
Best campsite ever!
Enjoying the sunset at Kalalau beach
It really was the Garden of Eden
Heading back out on day two
Made it past the sketchy cliff area again on the way back
Na Pali Coast - great views around ever corner
Tunnels beach
Enjoying Kauai beach time with Josh
The views from Hanalei town