Kauai Day 8 – Hanakapiai Falls

We were lucky enough to get day passes at Ha’ena State Park. This feat required getting up several days in a row at 6am EST (midnight Hawaii time) to submit the online request. Passes go in a matter of minutes. We were never able to get backpacking permits, but felt really fortunate to get into the park at all.

Wanting to maximize our time and make sure we got through when the road was open, we left the tents set up in Anini and headed to Ha’ena by 6:30am.

Our permits allowed us to hike the first two miles of the 11 mile world renown backpacking trail, the Kalalau trail, along the coast and then another 2 miles inland to Hanakapiai Falls or Hanakapi’ai Falls. The first 2 miles was along a cliff, but was wide, well maintained and generally easy going, terminating at Hanakapi’ai Beach. The second two miles was what you might generally expect for a backcountry trail, with a number of scrambles and river crossings. The forest here was unique with several stretches of mature bamboo and others with tall trees and lush vegetation, much of which reminded us of house plants we see at home. The one challenge for Jenney, several of the scrambles were along narrow ledges with good size drop offs (not too bad going up, a different story going back). The river crossings were also slippery. Jenney and Kevin tried out trekking poles to see if they would make the crossings easier, but put them away when Jenney slipped and momentarily lost one of the poles downstream causing a moment of scrambling in a challenging area to retrieve it accompanied by wet feet.

The reward was worth it. The pay off was an approximately 300 feet (91 m) high waterfall nestled in a basin with additional smaller falls. At the base of the waterfall was a pool where the girls and Kevin, swam to cool off. While there were other people, at one moment we were there alone and then only with a few quiet couple. We spent a good amount of time relaxing at falls. Then back tracked back to the beach, were we explored and found a cool cave that went through the rock opening to a pond in a cavern in between the entrance and the exit. The perspective from both sides was unique. One side you had to crawl into, the other was open to the ocean.

On our way back, the heat got turned way up. We felt like we were baking on the cliffs and for the first time there wasn’t a breeze. The views were phenomenal though and we felt like we earned the swim at the terminus at Ke’e Beach. The hike totaled 8.2 miles and the walk back and forth from the parking lot to the beach pushed us close to 10 miles for the day. Not too bad.

The snorkeling at Ke’e Beach in Ha’ena State Park was awesome. While fish were a little more scarce, we saw more variety, even seeing what we believe to be an octopus hiding in a cavern. We snorkeled long enough to need to get out because we were cold.

A quick rinse off and we headed into town. We were lucky it was Friday and things were open later (after 6pm). Logan and Kevin grab BBQ at Chicken in a Barrel and we all shared a small Shave Ice at Jo Jos. Man their macadamia nut ice cream is tasty!

Bellies full and sundown we headed back to the campground.