Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail

MODERATE 229 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail is a 6.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Hanalei, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2775 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

over grown

rocky

no dogs

Hanakp'ai Falls Trail is located near Hanalei, Hawaii and features a waterfall. The trail is primarily used for hiking. The first 2 miles is a moderate hike to Hanakapiai Beach. From there it is another 2 strenuous miles to the falls. The trail is very muddy and slippery during the first mile. Hollywood is a big fan of this Hawaiian island's spectacular landscape, which is why it's a popular filming location for movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. Like most trails on Kauai, the route up to the falls is quite rugged and usually quite slippery. This route should not be attempted during or immediately after a heavy rainfall.

hiking
7 hours ago

DO NOT GO ON THIS HIKE! NOT WORTH IT!
I would give this hike zero stars if it were an option!
I went on this hike with me family of four. Three of four members agreed it was NOT worth it! If there was some way I could get a refund for all the exhaustion, pain, and time I would want it! I'm also skeptical to believe if the one person who said it was worth it actually meant it as he claimed he probably wouldn't do it again. In addition, when he was driving us back after the hike he said, "I hope we don't hit any red lights because I won't be able to get my foot off the gas peddle. My legs are like noodles."
This hike was NOT MODERATE! This was a very difficult hike! Only an Olympic athlete could call it moderate! This hike took us 10 hours!
Also, the views were not that amazing. I was expecting breathtaking and once and a lifetime views. The only thing breathtaking was me out of breath from the extremely tiring hike. Although, whoever said there were once in a life time views was correct, because NOBODY in their right minds would do that hike a second time after all of that trauma. Sure they were pretty but it's hard to call something pretty when your dying.
This hike was not 6.9 miles! It was 11 miles! I brought my Fitbit to track my activity during the hike and I put it on right when we started on the trail for good measure so I know that was how long it was. Do not let those signs fool you! They will tell you that your a mile in, a mile and half, etc. but in reality you have hiked almost twice as much!
Not only was this hike exhausting,(which by the way has NO flat areas, it's all up and down and climbing! Fitbit told me I climbed up 150 flights!) it's very dangerous as well. The whole trail is slippery and muddy and wet (Don't even get me started on how dirty you and all your items will get!). It's so slippery that I slipped and rolled my ankle about 15 different times (currently icing my ankles right now) and one of the times I fell and broke my walking stick in process. I'm lucky I didn't break any bones!
Another annoying part of the hike are all the streams. You will cross streams about 10 times. You can either decide to spend 10 minutes strategically planning which rocks to step on to get across, or you can just give up and just walk straight through getting your shoes and socks soaked and squishy for the rest of the hike. Either way there is a high probability that you will slip and fall in the process. This means it's very unlikely you will make it out of this hike with dry shoes.
If you aren't convinced the hike isn't dangerous enough, the beach halfway to the waterfall has very strong currents that have killed over 800 people! So no, you cannot take a dip in the water to cool off, unless of course you have a death wish, (which you probably do if you're doing this hike) then feel free to go ahead and swim your heart away. That way if you do die, you'd actually be doing yourself a favor because you wouldn't have to finish the hike.
But if you do actually want cool off you can swim under the waterfall and get hypothermia instead.
Even after all of this and you still want to go on the hike, here are some tips:
-Splurge on hiking boots! Do not settle on any old pair of tennis shoes. You will need lots of traction and comfort.
-Remember to bring bug spray. I forgot that necessity and I was eaten alive.
-Do not bring your children with you. They will hate you and complain the whole, and most likely tears will be shed.
-Do not wear a visor, wear a baseball cap. I wore a visor and I burnt my scalp.
-Do not bring a bunch of stuff because you will be lugging that with you the whole time and your back will kill you.
-Do not use the bathroom by the beach! I repeat do not use the bathroom! That was the most potent, horrendous smelling bathroom I have been in. I would rather take my chances going into the danger beach and peeing in the water than going in that again
I wish you the best of luck if you go on this hike, because you will need it.

17 hours ago

This hike is magical. There's a review below that was super helpful for us, look for one with info. Highly recommend

hiking
1 day ago

hiking
6 days ago

a beautiful and unforgettable hike. if i were to do it again, i'd use water/hiking sandals/shoes with the water crossings you encounter.

11 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

Hiked to the falls on 7/7/17. Got to the parking lot a little before 6am and it was about half full.

I'd say it's moderate hike. The most challenging part was the last mile or so leading to the falls, mostly due to the rocks, river crossing, and rain. We used water shoes once we had to start crossing the river (I think something like 5 times). We saw others jumping from rock to rock but didn't want to chance soggy hiking boots (which others didn't seem to mind).

Took my husband and I about 7 hours to complete -- including time to swim, switch shoes, allowing others to pass, and bathroom stops.

Great hike overall. To sum up other reviews that were helpful for us prior to tackling the hike:
- bring plenty of water (We brought about 1.5L of water and a Gatorade each. We saw a handful of people start the hike later in the day with little to no water in hand! Not smart given the heat and exertion involved.)
- use sun screen (especially for the return portion from the beach to trailhead)
- +/- bug spray (we brought it but didn't seem to be bothered)
- allow plenty of time (earlier start the better -- for parking and traffic)
- do swim in the pool/fall! It's refreshing and absolutely beautiful!
- know your limits (may not be a good hike for anyone with prior knee or ankle injuries/instabilities). It's not a race so go at your own pace

One thing that did upset us while on the hike was how few people knew hiking etiquette (mostly with passing and crowding tight/challenging areas like the river crossings). Please note hikers going uphill have the right of way. Always give a warning if you're going to pass (ie "coming on your left").

We definitely recommend this hike in you're in Kauai! It was a highlight of our trip.

hiking
15 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

This was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. All Trails has it at 6.9 miles. My GPS had me at 8.5 miles when it was all done. All Trails says moderate. I would say this is difficult. The technical part of this hike is just under 2 miles. Very Very rocky, multiple river crossings and very slippery. Be careful and know your limitations. Take water, food, and first aid. Lots of traffic so you never feel alone. Make sure you go early because parking is limited. Plan a whole day around this hike to get to the falls and back. The views are amazing.

hiking
19 days ago

I won't downgrade this amazing trail's rating because I happen to be 52 and overweight. It completely kicked my ass, and my husband's as well. Anyone with remotely bad knees needs a walking stick. Big knee problems? Stay away. I'm lucky I made it out of this alive. I'm kind of kidding but not really. The moderate rating would only apply to the most experienced hiker. Our kids did fine. Please do not bring a baby on your back for this hike. I know you might be strong, but there are many opportunities to slip. It's just stupid. We all had camelbacks and a water bottle. My husband and wish we had packed an additional bottle. Most of the hike back from the beach is brutal and in scorching sun. Bottom line: if you are young, don't worry but pack smart. If you are older and have substantial health problems, you might want to sit this one out or just go to the beach and back. Overall it's an amazing hike, varied terrain (bamboo forest, waterfall, beach, coastal views.)

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

hiking
20 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

A great hike for any adventurer. The initial incline will get your legs warmed up, unless you have already spent an hour or so doing lunges. You will skirt across the shoreline with views that will not disappoint. The beach at the halfway mark is nice. There are warning signs against swimming, but there are nice tide pools to cool you off. The second part of the hike is slow-going. It's two miles of jungle navigation, river crossing and muddy-wall-climbing. At the end, you are tired and dirty, but it's worth the time. The view of the Falls is amazing. You are rewarded with a nice "soul-entrenching" spring to cool yourself off with. Swim and enjoy. Avoid wearing water shoes. There are a lot of hard rocks and at some parts the hiking is a challenge. Carry lunch, and at least a gallon of water. There is an awesome black cat at the Falls who will welcome a piece a bread, tuna fish and combos. Enjoy!

hiking
22 days ago

22 days ago

An amazing hike!!! The falls are beautiful.

hiking
23 days ago

hiking
24 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

27 days ago

Gorgeous hike. Probably one of the best. I'd give yourself 6 plus hours if you want to see everything.