The Kalalau Hiking Trail, located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is one of the most scenic and breathtaking adventures in the world. This 11-mile trail leads to Kalalau Beach, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by many experts and travel blogs. Despite its natural beauty, it’s important to be prepared before taking on this trail. Make sure you have all the necessary gear, food, and hiking partners before setting out on your long journey through the backcountry of Kauai.
Don’t forget about sun protection
If you’re planning on hiking on Hawaii’s Kalalau hiking trail or any other sunny trail for that matter, don’t forget to pack a good sunscreen. Your skin will thank you and your hike will be more comfortable. Sunscreens with zinc oxide offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The number of SPF ranges from 2 (think baby sunscreens) up to 50+, so it’s important that you select one accordingly.
Bring mosquito repellent
If you’re worried about getting bitten by bugs on your hike (and who isn’t?), don’t forget your mosquito repellent. I prefer something with Deet in it because that seems to help keep mosquitoes away. But there are also citronella candles and other natural solutions if you’d prefer something eco-friendly.
Always have water with you
No matter how far you hike or what time of year it is in Kauai, you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated. It’s also important to have plenty of water in case your hike takes longer than expected and/or turns more strenuous than you expect. You can never predict how long your hike will take—especially if it’s your first time hiking Kalalau.
Let someone know where you are going
Whether you are hiking up a mountain or going on an ocean trip, it is always important to let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be gone. If something were to happen while you are gone then they will be able to get help faster if they know your situation. It also allows them to look for you if you end up missing when expected back. Also, be sure that someone knows exactly what trail or road you plan on taking. Do not leave without telling anyone.
Don’t hike alone
When you hike alone in nature, everything is up to you: where you go, how long it takes to get there, whether or not you take a break. If things don’t go as planned (and let’s face it—that happens) and your backpack is too heavy or your knee starts giving out on a particularly rocky stretch of trail… well, there’s no one around but you. It’s not just unpleasant; it can be dangerous.
Be Prepared to Get Lost and Read a Map
One of the biggest pet peeves about Kalalau is that it’s so easy to get lost. It just cringe at all of these people who pay hundreds of dollars for a guided tour and have absolutely no idea where they are or where they’re going. There are times when you will be literally following someone in front of you in hopes that he or she knows what they’re doing, but rest assured you will find yourself lost many times throughout your hike.
Wear sturdy footwear and dress appropriately for the climate.
If you plan on hiking at an elevation of 4,000 feet or more for an extended period of time (like four hours or more), dress appropriately for those temperatures. If it’s sunny and warm during your hike, wear sunscreen and a hat; if you’re hiking in cold weather with snow on the ground, consider wearing gloves. Don’t forget to wear good hiking boots.
Take breaks and listen to your body.
Even if you feel like you’re in good shape and can handle a tough hike with ease, Kalalau is no joke. Take frequent breaks along your journey to stay energized and hydrated. Eat nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts or dried fruit that are high in protein and healthy fats (good for burning energy). Drink plenty of water before your trek as well as during it; it’s easy to get dehydrated on long hikes.
Bring snacks that you can eat without heating them up.
Because you can’t light a fire or cook on Kalalau’s beach, that means there is no way to heat food or warm water. Snacks that don’t require cooking are easy (e.g., trail mix, jerky) and provide much-needed sustenance for your journey. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also an option; however, it can be difficult to carry sandwiches without spoiling them from humidity in a backpack.
So you’re ready for a hike in Kalalau, huh? It’s an incredible experience; and with that said, it’s not for everyone. The Kalalau hiking trail is unpredictable and it might just leave you saying it was all worth it. If you are looking for guidance before embarking on your own adventure (or if you know someone who plans on hiking in Kauai), read our helpful guide to be sure you don’t overlook important details!