Hui Wa'a Kaukahi

Kalalau to Hanakoa (a hike)

by Kevin K.L. Ching DDS

If one more "must do" thing has to be added to the list of things to do on the Na Pali Coast paddle, that would be to hike back to the largest pool on the whole coast and see the possibly most impressive cascade, Hanakoa Falls.

Too tired to venture into when backpacking in from Kee beach, I had bypassed the falls on two different times that I hiked the Kalalau Trail. I'm not sure someone with a full backpack should hike this short but bumpy and slippery trail into the falls. However a person with a light daypack could easily traverse the trail and that makes it ideal for the hardy paddler who would like to experience the coast from a different perspective.

Starting from the trail junction at Kalalau stream follow the sign to Haena. The trail rises up "Red Hill" that is steep and very eroded (and very red), bring a pair of gloves to avoid some hand grinding experiences. At the top of Red Hill, the trail levels off nicely as you twist and turn into the many freshets along the way. There are some areas that are washed out and loose, so be careful in these areas. One slip and it's a long way down to the water and a rough swim back (if you are still conscious.) Some of the valleys have streams that feed the falls that we frequently paddle under when we need a cooling shower on the way to Kalalau.

Soon the final challenge presents itself as the endless Hanakoa switchbacks inch their way over the ridge into the valley. Once over, its all down hill to the shed on the right. On the left side of the shed starts the Hanakoa Falls trail that leads to the awesome pool and falls. The cascade is similar to the Waiele Falls on the north face of Molokai with its water falling in sheets half way down the falls. It makes for a nice setting for a lunch and if you start your hike at 8:00 AM that should get you to the falls by noon. Don't linger too long, as the hike back to Kalalau may take a little longer on weary legs.

©1998 Hui Wa'a Kaukahi