This isn't just another Waimea Canyon lookout, as many suspect. It's a view into the heart of the Kalalau Valley, one of the most photographed and well recognized valleys in all of Hawai'i. This is primarily because the valley and surrounding coast have served as the backdrop for countless films including King Kong (the original), Mighty Joe Young, Jurassic Park, and Six Days Seven Nights. Kalalau Lookout is also the highest elevation most people reach in Kaua'i by road, 4,000 feet. As we mentioned before, here you will find one of the greatest views in all of Hawai'i. Kalalau Valley is the largest valley on the island at two miles wide. Amazingly, it was inhabited up until 1919.
Today the only way to visit the beach or valley is by the Kalalau Trail as it stretches 11 grueling miles along the Na Pali coastline (see our Kauai trails page). From this vantage point though you can just bask in the view of all that is between you and the blue hues of the Pacific Ocean. We have found that the best time to view the valley is before 11 AM, as clouds are constantly moving in and out of the valley and are especially thick in the afternoon and evening. However, you also don't want to get there too early because the valley won't have full sun on it until around 8 AM most mornings (seasonal changes apply of course). If you arrive to a cloudy or mist-filled valley, consider the direction of the trades when you arrive. If the wind is blowing from the land towards the ocean, the clouds will usually enter the valley and fall (thus disappearing into the warm air below). However, if the wind is blowing from the ocean inland, the clouds will bank up inside the valley and not dissipate but rather thicken into cloud soup. So keep that in mind during your visit. Take Highway 50 west from Hanapepe toward Waimea. Turn right on Waimea Canyon Road just after Mile Marker #23. Kalalau Lookout is located near the end of the road at Mile Marker #18. Pu'u o Kila overlook, which is the start to Pihea Trail is just a little further at the end of the road.
STATE AND KAUAI COUNTY RELEASE KALALAU TRAIL SAFETY VIDEO
Designed to Inform Hikers About Preparation and Risks
The Kalalau Trail in the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is likely the most heavily used hiking trail in Hawaii. An estimated 500,000 visitors and residents use the spectacular trail each year. Sandwiched between the ocean and the towering cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, the trail is widely featured in guide books, on travel websites and in blogs.
“There’s little doubt the Kalalau Trail is one of the crown jewels of the entire system of Hawaii State Parks,” said Dan Quinn, administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks. “Due to its immense popularity, hikers often arrive at the trailhead without having made the proper preparations for what ultimately is a pretty tough trek, especially for beginning hikers,” Quinn went on to say.
The six-minute-long video, produced by DLNR in cooperation with the Kauai County Fire Department and Civil Defense Agency, highlights some of the challenges hikers might face on the Kalalau Trail. It focuses on the first two miles of the hike to Hanakapiai Stream, which is the length the majority of hikers make. A state permit is required to traverse beyond Hanakapiai Stream or Hanakapiai Falls. The entire trail is 11 miles long and those wanting to go beyond Hanakapiai can obtain permits from the Division of State Parks.
Kalalau Trail Visitor Safety Video: