Winter of 2022 was very dry by Kauai standards and these dry conditions gave way to excellent hiking conditions across the island for the entire stretch of the season. The Napali Coast is one of the most beautiful hiking settings in the world, and its convenient access from across the North Shore makes it one of our “go-to” hikes when we’re looking to get a sweat going without getting into an all day outing. Hiking to Hanakapiai Beach can make for a nice morning workout, with a variety of excellent views during an elevation-changing, technical exercise; the combination of great weather and great trail conditions added this hike to our winter mix of routine sporting activities.
Hiking to Hanakapiai Beach
The most recent hike of our many winter visits happened on a clear Saturday morning in mid-March. For us, the 2+ mile (4+ mile roundtrip) jaunt to Hanakapiai Beach is such an amazing trip because of the variety of scenes, smells and other stimulations that can be packed into such a short distance. The initial ascent through a vibrant stretch of jungle, reminds you this is not a leisurely stroll, with a half mile climb that gets the heart rate pumping before the first reward of Napali coast views in front of you and the picturesque Ke’e lagoon behind you. For the next half hour, the meandering trail winds in and out of numerous valleys filled with every shade of green, and with each emergence the endless blue of the Pacific.
Hanakapiai Beach always presents itself so differently, so every visit to its edge offers a new experience. Sometimes the stream winds in big curves across much of the beach. Other times it takes its shortest distance to the sea. Sometimes the beach is broad and sprawling and other times it is nonexistent with water meeting the boulders that sit above the sand.
A short rest, small snack and quick drink, and we like to get right back on the trail for the return trip, with familiar but different views along the way.
This is another one of Kauai’s playgrounds that we love to take in whenever we can. One other element of the beauty of an early morning hike to Hanakapiai Beach is that we are back in time for lunch with the entire afternoon still available for work and more play.