The second side-option at Hanakapi'ai Valley is a side trail heads off south to Hanakapi'ai Falls. The falls are one of many beautiful multi-hundred foot high ribbon falls that exist along the Na Pali Coast. The side trail to Hanakapi'ai Falls is 1.8 miles (one way).
After Hanakapi'ai Valley, the character of the Kalalau Trail changes dramatically. It is no longer a wide, almost road-like, track; the trail becomes very narrow, often overhanging with tropical vegetation. Clearly the amount of traffic the trail receives beyond Hanakapi'ai Beach is drastically lower.
The now-narrow track switchbacks up the western side of the mouth of Hanakapi'ai valley. Although narrow, it is well-defined and has nice, pristine vegetation on both sides, except in a few spots, where some thoughtless hikers have needlessly cut shortcuts across some of the switchbacks. Apart from this being unsightly, this sort of thing creates an opportunity for erosion and trail destabilization. Do not cut switchbacks, please!
Jenn above Hanakapi'ai Beach
Once out of Hanakapi'ai Valley, the Kalalau Trail is more direct for a bit, traversing along more or less on the level high above the ocean and beneath groundwater-moistened black basalt cliffs.
Just before the 5km (3.0 mile) mark, the trail reaches the highest elevation along the journey to Kalalau Beach, at just over 800 feet above sea level. There is a metal fence here and a huge boulder on the sea-ward side of the trail. The fence marks the boundary of the of the Hono o Na Pali reserve.
The trail passes through a notch between the boulder (known as 'Space Rock') and the steep toe of a ridge that comes down from above. If you go around to the seaward side of Space Rock, you'll find a sublime viewpoint right atop an 800-foot vertical drop to the ocean below.
After crossing the fence into the reserve and through the notch marked by Space Rock, the trail immediately enters the next valley along the coast - the Hoolulu Valley - and begins a downward-sloping traverse back into the valley, followed by a series of switchbacks leading further down. The route then contours across the valley (which is shady and lushly forested). After crossing the Hoolulu Stream, the trail contours back out of the valley and resumes its traverse across seaward-facing cliffs.
Looking out from the jungle
More narrow, overgrown path
Once out of the valley, the trail traverses west across steeply sloping forested slopes. Along this section, the undergrowth in the forest begins to thin, and the trail is less prone to muddiness.
In places, the trail opens out onto steep brush-and-grass slopes, offering spectacular views back east along the coast and down to the frothing waters of the ocean, five hundred feet below. A delightful section of trail!
At the 6.5 km (roughly 4 miles) mark, another highpoint at the entrance to a valley (Waiahuakua valley) is reached. It is another scenic open point that is perfect for a snack break. Following this, the trail immediately begins a contouring route across Waiahuakua valley, losing about 200 feet of elevation in the progress.
Pacific Ocean along Kalalau Trail
Heading into Waiahuakua valley