Hiking One of Hawaii's Most Beautiful Trails Now Requires a Permit
If you want to take a hike on the famous and gorgeous Kalalau Trail, be prepared to make an advance reservation.
Since severe thunderstorms and floods in 2018 ravaged the coastline on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, major recovery efforts have been underway to return Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park and Hā’ena State Park, and the Kalalau Trail to their original beauty.
The two parks and hiking trail actually reopened back in 2019, according to The Points Guy, but officials are still concerned with potential damage to the environment, especially since Kauai has grown exponentially in popularity.
As of 2019, Hā’ena State Park has implemented a 900-visitors-per-day cap as well as restricting the number of parking stalls and adding fines for people who attempt to park on the roadside, according to The Points Guy. If hikers want to get to the beginning of the Kalalau Trail, they would have to reserve space on a shuttle in order to get there.
But now, as of Jan. 3, 2020, there’s an extra hoop you’ll have to jump through before you get to the trailhead, according to the Hā’ena State Park website.
If you plan on hiking the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail, located in Hā’ena State Park, you will need an advanced reservation and permit, due to the daily cap. The first two miles will allow you access to Ke’e Beach, Hanakāpīʻai Beach, and a side trail (two miles long) to Hanakāpīʻai Falls. Reservations can be made up to 30-days in advance, and no later than the day before your visit — and they sell out quick, so put in your request early.
If you want to go beyond two miles on the Kalalau Trail, you will need to apply for a Napali Coast State Wilderness Park camping permit (even if you don’t intend to camp). This will grant you access to Hanakoa or Kalalau. Permits are $20 per-person per-day (Hawaii residents get a $5 discount). If you have this permit, you don’t need a reservation for Hā’ena State Park.
Again, make reservations as soon as you know you want to go. Currently, there is a cap of 60 people per day, if you're interested in camping. Luckily, you can plan ahead. Permits are being granted no earlier than 90 days before your journey. There is some parking available (with a separate parking permit) for Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.
And, as always, keep an eye on weather reports or notices about potential hazards the day you go, as well as bringing any necessary supplies. Even though it’s a tiny bit harder to get a reservation now, it’ll be well worth it once you see the breathtaking beauty of the Kalalau Trail.