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View of Kalalau Beach and Na Pali Coast from Kalalau Valley, Kauai, Hawaii

Kalalau Beach, KauaiView All Sizes

JOURNAL : July 17, 2002

Camping at Kalalau Valley and Beach

Kauai > Hawaii > United States

Series Camping at Kalalau Valley and Beach
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Hiking the Kalalau Trail

The Kalalau Valley Stream empties out to sea

Kalalau Valley Stream

Kaua'i is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and so we are drawn back to it from time to time. On this occasion we camped out at the remote Kalalau Beach for a few days. It is inaccessible by roads and the Kalalau Trail is a moderately difficult 11 miles / 18 km. You can also go by boat or kayak. There's a helicopter landing area but it's for emergencies. In retrospect we might have ventured by kayak in order to enjoy the coastal features more.

View of Na Pali Coast from Kalalau Valley, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali CoastView All Sizes

Camping Permits

Obtaining a permit to camp at Kalalau is pretty easy. The Department of Land and Natural Resources has an office in Lihue. We walked in and paid something like $27 for the two of us.

The Next Beach Down

The original plan was to rent a boat, but nobody would rent us a boat for going beyond Haena Point to the Na Pali Coast. My sister Summer offered to take us in her boyfriend Sterling's fishing boat.

Although we started early in the morning it was afternoon by the time we got to Kalalau beach and the shorebreak was way too rough. The next beach down had a rocky reef which allowed the boat to get near the shore, so we camped for the night to wait for calmer morning conditions.

Behind the beach on the slope up to the cliffs were the peaceful remains of a Hawaiian village amidst the coconut trees.

That night Sterling and I went diving out in the reef with Mag-Lites. Sweeping the light around revealed a sea of glowing eyeballs and colorful activity. In one dark corner a reef shark prowled around, his eyes flashing metallic, and all parties agreed to a respectful distance.

Amazing Tub

Amazing Tub

The majestic towering cliffs over Kalalau Beach, Kauai

Towering CliffsView All Sizes

Through the Shorebreak

The shorebreak is always heavy at Kalalau because of the lack of reef. All of our trash bag-wrapped camp gear was thrown out of the boat and each bulky item was swum through the shorebreak. We were dumped multiple times onto the beach, clutching our gear and sandy everywhere. Then there's the hard slog across the vast beach. We celebrated with cold beer.

Huge ridges tower over the valley. From the beach it's a magnificent sight.

Kalalau Beach and Valley

Kalalau Beach from a helicopter, Kaua’i

Aerial View of Kalalau Beach

Pierce Brosnan on the Grassy Knoll?

Our camp spot was on a grassy hill overlooking the beach, just out of sight on this top photo of the beach. It's also very close to a waterfall which serves as the local shower. On this morning we had to wait a few minutes for Pierce Brosnan and his wife to finish up bathing. A nude celebrity sighting in a remote corner of the world was most unexpected. He was very bearded and hairy, as he was on Die Another Day. On the way up Keely said "that's a good soap" and Liz confirmed that it was indeed a high-quality biodegradable soap.

Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith have a house near Anini Beach. We saw them once again on a corner in Kapa'a with their kids.

Natural slides along the Kalalau Valley stream

Lots of Natural Slides

Liz in the Kalalau Valley Stream

Kalalau Valley Stream

Kalalau Valley Stream

The trail hugs the stream up into the valley. We jumped in and out of the frequent pools and waterfalls. The water is a refreshing cool. We met some nudists "hanging out" in places. A generous guy had a joint. At one point a deep tub of churning water had formed in the rocks. The water splashed in from several places and the water was always swirling around. The pool was a perfect depth and you could slide out of it and into a larger pool below.

A Valley near Kalalau

A Valley near KalalauView All Sizes

Way up the valley we found a large natural bowl in the rocks next to the trail. It looked like a community gathering place with a capacity of several hundred. In the center of the bowl was a huge bonfire pit. Two gigantic slabs of rock sat on each side to give it shape and authority. Above and behind in an aloof, commanding position a flat platform of rock was situated like box seats. If you looked at it as rocks and trees you might not see it, but if you see the order and inevitable usage of such a unique geological formation, then you might also see the subtle changes the Hawaiians made. The place had the same solid, timeless emptiness as the Roman Forum or Stonehenge. The stillness of humans long dead.

But Kalalau is a happy place. Anyone living there would be lulled into Eternal Happiness amidst such beautiful surroundings.

View of the Na Pali coast and Kalalau Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

About this day

Camping at Kalalau Valley and Beach

July 17, 2002

Kauai > Hawaii > United States

Tags   Boating · Camping · Valleys · Swimming · Beaches · Favorites · Wa

Kauai Series | All United States Locations

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