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Kalalau Beach

Lines in the sand at Kalalau Beach, Kauai

Strong winds during the day form lines in the sand.

Cave at Kalalau Beach, Na Pali Coast, Kauai

During the winter months, huge waves crash against the cliffs. The ocean engulfs the beach and carves caves into the young rock. In the summer, the caves offer shelter from the sun and wind. (Update 9/14/15: This sea cave was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015.)

End of the beach at Kalalau Beach, Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Walk along the Na Pali Coast to the end of the beach for an amazing view. (Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015.)

Climbing a rock at Kalalau Beach, Na Pali Coast, Kauai

(Update 9/14/15: This rock was pushed into the ocean in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. It is now underwater.)

The Kalalau Series:
This is the final post in a five-part series on Kalalau. More from the series:

But, don’t do what Cory’s doing here … you’ll give your friends a heart attack.

* * *

When I got back from Kalalau I went to get a haircut. I told Hayleen, the lady that cuts my hair, about my trip and she said that Kalalau was one of her favorite places. She didn’t do the hike but she was able to see the Na Pali Coast from a cruise ship. She told me that when the ship got to Kalalau it slowed down and did a U-turn. Then they told everyone to go out on the observation deck. When Kalalau came into view the entire boat went silent. There was not a peep out of the couple thousand passengers on the deck. She said that even the babies were quiet. And then, after a few seconds passed, all you could hear was a barrage of *click-click-clicks* from cameras.

As you walk down the beach in Kalalau you feel like you’re in a different world. This was my favorite part of the trip. We walked the beach both days we were in Kalalau. We tried to soak it in as much as possible knowing that it would be quite some time before we would ever return.

Kalalau Beach is the huge chunk of sand that sits in front of Kalalau Valley. It’s wide and deep. It’s a wonderful place to hang out a night, but during the day it’s actually too hot and windy. It’s like being in the desert. Except that there’s an ocean next to you.

But, walk down the beach a bit and you’ll be treated to some of the coolest looking scenery you’ll ever see. You’ll be on the sandy shoreline of the world famous Na Pali Coast.

There’s one section of the beach that gets super windy. It’s the part right after you come out of the valley. You’ll want a shirt or wrap to cover yourself from the stinging sand. A hat is nice to have too. After this walk, I believe I now know what acupuncture feels like.

And sunglasses. I was so happy I brought my sunglasses on this day. Those of us that didn’t have sunglasses wore their swimming goggles to keep the sand out of their eyes. Those that did not have goggles are Asian so they were okay (on account of the squinty eyes).

As you walk down the beach you’ll encounter several caves. You can walk into them to explore and take cover from the wind.

We found that there were people taking naps in almost all of the caves so we didn’t linger too long inside.

These caves are huge.

Another cave down the coast has been eroded into an arch.

When you come out of the arch you see what looks like an alien planet. (Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015.)

The cliffs of the Na Pali Coast look prehistoric in this area.

The faces are sheer and you can see that boulders continuously break off. (Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. There’s no longer sand to walk on here.)

Some of the boulders are climbable.

At the end of the beach there’s a massive rock that looks like it fell from high above. (Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. This boulder is now underwatwer.)

It’s split right down the middle.

And it actually appears that there’s a third part to this boulder behind it. This gap forms a channel that gets filled with water as the waves rush in. Don’t get caught in here.

The rock was like a magnet for the girls. Must climb rock …

I tried hinting to Jenelyn and Reanne that it might not be safe to climb it but to no avail. They were up there within a few seconds.

And then Cory slipped on his grippy aqua-socks and climbed straight up the crack.

And then Jenelyn took it up another notch. Here’s the thing … you’re in the middle of nowhere out here. Doing this is dangerous so, maybe don’t attempt this if you ever find yourself in front of this rock. Here’s the other thing … it makes for an awesome photo.

This beach is the end of the walkable coastline. But, that doesn’t mean you need to stop here. If you’re a good swimmer, there’s a hidden beach called Honopu Beach right around that bend.

(Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. There’s no longer sand to walk on here. Honopu Beach now requires swimming a good 300 or more yards to access the beach.)

The sunset was going to set soon so we headed back to the camp. We would attempt to see what was beyond the beach on the following day.

The next day was another bright and beautiful one. We walked back to the end of Kalalau Beach.

Jen and Seth decided to swim down the coastline instead. The strong current would help by pushing them the whole way.

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see them in the water.

The rest of us, Reanne, Cory, Troy, Jenelyn and I walked it back to the cracked boulder.

When we got to the end of the beach, Seth, Jen, Jen, Cory and Troy put on some fins and swam out. A short swim around the bend will take you to the secluded Honopu Beach. It’s illegal to dock a boat or even a kayak on the beach but you can swim to it. You just need to be a strong swimmer to get to it.

Jenelyn, Reanne and I are not strong swimmers so we stayed back. While the crew was away we explored the rock garden and wet cave over here.(Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. This cave is no longer accessible.)

You can walk to the end of the cave but you’ll want a flashlight if you do. It doesn’t go back too far.

At the end is a pool. We didn’t walk go in the water so it might go back much farther actually.

These stacked rocks are all over the place in the cave. If you look on Nate Yuen’s blog post on the cave, you can see that sometimes people make more elaborate designs with the rocks.

After exploring the cave and eating some snacks we spent an hour being extremely lazy.

And eventually, our companions returned from their adventure. (Update 9/14/15: This area was destroyed in a massive landslide during the winter of 2014-2015. This small beach is no longer accessible.)

Tory and Cory appeared to be tired from the swim but Seth and Jen (both swimmers in high school) looked fresh as daisies. Yes … as daisies.

They told us about how amazing Honopu Beach was. The massive arch, the empty beach, a waterfall and a sun bathing monk seal. It sounded amazing and the cool thing is, Cory took a risk and brought his dSLR with him in a dry bag (that orange thing hanging from his waist). Here’s what they saw.

Then it was time to harvest more opihi.

Cory and Troy picked them off the rocks in between waves.

When you walk back to camp the sun will be starting to set and the cliff faces of the Na Pali coast turn golden.

You’ll walk back through the caves …

… and when you get to the main Kalalau Beach, the wind will have died down some.

Now you can sit back and enjoy yet another epic sunset.

The Kalalau Series

This is the final post in a 5-part series on Kalalau. See more from this series:

See also, swimming to Honopu Beach.

This story was last modified on September 14, 2015. (Originally published in August 2011.)

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