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Kauai’s north shore with its quaint villages, winding roads over single-lane bridges and pristine beaches will transform you to a place and time of old Hawaii. In 2018, historic flooding on Kauai’s north shore severely damaged roadways and key infrastructure, leading to the closure of the highway west of Hanalei, access to Haena State Park and the Kalalau Trail.

Map of Haena State Park Kauai

But, there’s exciting new- over a year later, the road to Haena State Park and the Kalalau Trail has reopened! With the reopening has come a new set of rules for non-residents to visit the area. Read further to learn the where, what, and how to visit Haena State Park and hike Kauai’s famous Kalalau Trail.

Hiking along the trail to Hanakapiai beach on Kauai

Rule no. 1: Advanced Reservations and Permits are Required

All vehicles, walk-in entry and shuttle riders visiting Haena State Park and day hikers accessing the Kalalau Trail are required to make advanced reservations and/or purchase parking permits. Entry fees to the park are $1 per person for non-residents. Additional fees apply for a parking pass or to use the Kauai North Shore Shuttle.

 

Rule no. 2: Parking is limited

There are only 100 parking stalls in the parking lot – 70 allocated visitor parking stalls and 30 Hawaii resident parking stalls. Reservations may be made online at www.gohaena.com up to 14 days in advance and no later than the day before your visit. Parking permits are high in demand and have been sold-out nearly immediately of being posted online. 

 

Rule no. 3: Overnight parking is not allowed

Those with permits to camp overnight at the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park/Kalalau Trail beyond Hanakapiai must either use the shuttle service or arrange for private drop off. Overnight camping permits are available for reservation two weeks in advance on https://camping.ehawaii.gov. Camping permits cost $20 per person, per night and are good for up to five consecutive nights.

 

Rule No. 4: Permit required for hiking beyond Hanakapiai Beach

The first two miles on the Kalalau Trail from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapiai Beach is the perfect mildly strenuous day hike, offering scenic glimpses of the Napali Coast while you wind around the narrow coastline. Once at Hanakapiai Beach, enjoy lunch next to the peaceful freshwater stream, find a spot on the beach to take a nap, or hike an additional two miles (one way) inland to the staggering 200-foot Hanakapiai Falls. However, hiking beyond Hanakapiai Beach requires a camping permit for the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park from the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. * Without a valid camping permit, you run the risk of being fined by the State DLNR.

*If you have a valid camping permit for the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, you do not need to make a park entry reservation for Haena State Park.

 

Rule No. 5: Skip the parking and take the new Kauai North Shore Shuttle

Not really a rule, but we recommend that those wanting to explore Haena State Park take advantage of the new Kauai North Shore Shuttle!  We love the Kauai North Shore Shuttle because it is inexpensive and convenient. Reservations can be easily made online by visiting . Prices range from $5-$15, depending whether you want a hop-on pass (based on seat availability) or if you want to reserve your seat in advance. They also accept Kauai Bus passes as a hop-on pass (no reservations), which is great because Kauai Bus passes can also be used throughout the entire island. Small beach gear is allowed, such as folding chairs, snorkel equipment, and umbrellas. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space for surfboards, large coolers or other large items.

If you decide to take the Kauai North Shore Shuttle, there are two parking options. Parking at Princeville Golf Club is $15 (additional to shuttle fee) and shuttle service begins at 7:30 am. Travel time to Haena is approximately 30-40 minutes. All visitors must vacate the parking lot by 5:45 pm so plan your return from Haena State Park accordingly. There are only 10 stalls available and parking is first come, first serve. The second parking option is the park-and-ride at Waipa in Hanalei and catch the first shuttle to Haena at 7:00 am. Travel time from this spot is only approximately 20-25 minutes. This means you can be one of the first to arrive at the park for the day! Overnight parking is not allowed at either location.

 

Costs to go

Haena State Park is one of Kauai’s most pristine and delicate treasures. The road to get to Haena State Park is narrow, meandering over one-lane bridges and mountain stream crossings, past the openings of the wet and dry caves, and leading to perfect white sand beaches with crystal clear water lapping gently against the shoreline. To put it simply…it’s paradise.

Cave at Hanakapiai beach Kauai

 

So you’ve decided to have a destination wedding or celebrate an anniversary or momentous birthday on Kauai. With stunning white sand beaches, magical sunsets and lush tropical foliage everywhere you look, Kauai’s natural beauty sets the backdrop for the dream event.  Fortunately, Kauai boasts a reputable list of island bakers who work with local farmers, incorporating seasonal island grown fresh fruits and locally-made ingredients into all of their creations. We’ve taken the difficulty out of finding a baker and listed a few of our favorites below.

 

Contemporary Flavors Catering

Wedding cake from Contemporary flavors catering Kauai
Photo: Contemporary Flavors

A culinary leader in the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, Executive Chef Mark Oyama is renowned throughout Hawaii and the world. Chef Mark and his talented team, who he personally trains, artfully infuses Hawaii’s unique tropical flavors into delightful melt-in-your-mouth masterpieces. For instance, the Lilikoi Dream is a delicate white cake brushed with vanilla bean syrup and filled with a lilikoi (passion fruit) curd. Coconut lovers find utter satisfaction in the Toasted Hawaiian, a coconut cake with a light rum glaze, filled with layers of toasted macadamia nut pastry cream and pineapple buttercream. Chef Oyama doesn’t stop at cakes, offering a full spectrum of desserts, such as his signature chocolate macadamia nut crunch bars, assorted eclair’s, french macarons, and mini cheesecakes in mango, coconut toffee and more. Cake prices start at $30 for a quarter sheet and increase in size and number of tiers.
To discuss your catering needs, call (808) 245-2522.
https://contemporaryflavorscatering.com/weddings/#cakemenu

 

Ko Bakery

Chocolate Chips from Ko Bakery
Photo: Ko Bakery

Ko Bakery has been a well kept secret by Kauai residents, who discovered a while ago where to go when in need of the best pineapple upside down cake on island. Located about 20 minutes from Poipu, Ko Bakery is a local gem offering a variety of biscotti, cookies, pastries and made to order cakes for all special occasions. Their Hula Baby Gourmet biscotti, in a variety of flavors such as Kauai Coffee Crunch, Lilikoi Cranberry and Chocomacs, is bursting with flavor and satisfying crunch, often enjoyed straight out of the package or dunked in a cup of Ko Bakery’s specialty brewed coffee. If the idea of the Haupia Lime cake, with three layers of moist haupia (coconut pudding) inside of the butter cake and frosted with a Kauai lime buttercream, doesn’t make you drool with desire, the POG cake, a lilikoi buttercream frosted cake with two layers of orange and guava cake and guava puree definitely will. With so many cake flavors made in mini and full sized cakes, you can order multiple mini cakes for your special occasion or request to create a one of a kind specialty multi-tiered wedding cakes, beautiful decorated with fruits and tropical flowers. Cake prices start at $34. Ko Bakery is open Monday through Friday, 6 am to 2 pm,
Call (808) 212-9437 to place orders.
https://kobakery.com/

 

Kawaii Cupcake

Donuts from Kawaii Cupcake in Kauai

They say the best things come in small packages, and this is definitely true when it comes to Kawaii Cupake, who uses only organic eggs, butter and milk in their delectable individual sized treats.  Kawaii, pronounced similar to Kauai, is the Japanese term for something cute or pretty. Kawaii Cupcake can design any cupcake or cake for your wedding, birthday party, baby shower, etc., offering islandwide delivery and vegan and gluten free options. Owner Kristine Ishikawa started Kawaii Cupcake by baking one flavor of cupcakes per week, modeled after the movie Julie and Julia. This led to the creation of more than 60 cupcake flavors, ranging from traditional flavors to exotic, such as the Irish Car Bomb, chocolate blackberry cabernet, azuki green tea, or lychee rose water cupcake. Tiered cupcake towers with a small round cake as the top tier are available, as well as homemade tiered donut cakes. Kawaii Cupcake requires a $200 minimum order per event. Pricing is $40 per flavor for 12 regular size cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes.
To place an order, email info@kawaiidesignshawaii.com or call (808) 635-2827.
http://kawaiicupcake.com/

 

The Right Slice

The Right Slice Pie lady at the Kukuiula culinary farmer's market
Photo: The Right Slice

Fruit pies, cream pies, pot pies, oh my! The Right Slice in Kalaheo, located 15 minutes from Poipu, offers a variety of sweet and savory pies that can be pre-ordered online or picked up at their shop. Their most popular items are the mango lilikoi pie, chicken pot pie, and lilikoi cheesecake. Try one of their rich and gooey pies, such as their chocolate coconut macaroon pie, macadamia nut pie or haupia purple sweet potato pie. The Right Slice offers individual portions and full sized pies, ranging from $10.50 to $65 at their full service bakery in Kalaheo. There’s a good chance you will become addicted their delectable pies while visiting Kauai, if that happens don’t worry! They allow online orders and will ship to anywhere in the US with 48-hour advance notice. The Right Slice in Kalaheo is open Sunday 11 am to 4 pm and Mon-Sat 11 am to 6 pm, with a “Pie on the Fly” kiosk at Harbor Mall in Lihue that gets refilled daily at 10 am. In Poipu, their pies are sold at the Kukuiula Culinary Market on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30 pm.
Call (808) 212-5798 to pre-order pies for your special event.
https://rightslice.com/

 

Haole Girl Island Sweets

Sticky Buns from Haole Girl Sweets Kauai
Photo: Haole Girl Sweets

Described as a European style patisserie with an island twist, Haole Girl Island Sweets have been delighting taste buds with their flaky, hand stuffed croissants and specialty cakes for many years. Owner Judy had a successful career as an executive pastry chef for five star resorts before branching out to open her own bakery. Haole Girl Island Sweets supports local Kauai farmers in their dessert creations, with unique cake flavors such as apple-banana, carrot/pineapple  and almond joconde. Haole Girl Island Sweets can customize your dream wedding cake with iced or fresh florals, for a Hawaiian themed wedding cake topped with beautiful flowers representing the islands. Adding to the array of desserts offered by Haole Girl Island Sweets are assorted cheesecakes in flavors such as passion swirl, key lime mojito, or sticky bun with caramel and macadamia nuts). Haole Girl Island Sweets bakery is located in Kapaa, but they have a large presence at several farmer’s markets throughout the island. On Wednesdays, they can be found at the Kukuiula Culinary Market in Poipu from 3:30 pm to 6 pm. Cake prices start at $10 per person and cake tasting is available at their Kapaa bakery.
To set up a cake tasting or place an order, call (808) 822-2253 or email haolegirlsweets@gmail.com.
http://haolegirlsweets.com/

 

Entrance to the Maukawahi Cave in Poipu

The Makauwahi Cave Reserve in Poipu is one of Kauai’s hidden archeological gems.  A fantastic activity for kids, the 17-acre ancient archeological site, with a huge limestone cave as the main attraction, was home to many now extinct species including the turtle jawed moa-nalo bird and the blind and flightless Kaua‘i mole duck.

It’s the kind of site that archeologists drool over. Since the early 90’s, archeologists David Burney and Linda Pigott Burney, have been diligently studying the caves’ layers of sediment for clues of the past. The information they found hidden in the walls of the cave and through ground excavation has been phenomenal. They have discovered clues of floods, hurricanes, droughts, a huge tsunami, and extinct plants and fossils, all within the walls of the caves, the historical records contained in the walls of the caves contain information for the last 10,000 years of Kaua‘i’s history.

How to get there

There are two recommended ways to get there. An approximately two-mile hike from Keoneloa Bay (aka Shipwreck’s Beach) to the coastal trail on the Makawehi Cliffs leads to the sinkhole, which is located just after the CJM horse stable. The second way is by driving past the Hyatt on to Grove Farm’s private dirt road. Be prepared for a bumpy experience with a lot of potholes. Once there, either park at the horse stables or at Mahaulepu Beach and head towards the cliffs from the beach. The area is so isolated that most hikers are so preoccupied by the stunning coastal views of Mahaulepu Beach and the shimmering Pacific Ocean to notice a trail leading between some ironwood trees to the cave.

Finding the opening to the sinkhole can pose a challenge, and finding it open for the public to enter can also be part of the challenge. Getting into the sinkhole is the next challenge, which requires a person to get into a low crawl for several feet until they are able to stand in the cave. The opening of the cave opens up into a gloriously green amphitheater with endemic Hawaiian plants being cultivated that were once part of the sinkholes natural landscape.

There are two caves, the north cave and the south cave. The north cave is a giant fossil formed over 400,000 years. 7,000 years ago, the cave’s central room collapsed, creating a freshwater lake. Clues of pre-contact Hawai‘i and fossil evidence of dead plants and animals, including 45 species of bird life, were preserved in the ancient lake and are only being discovered today.

The sensitive geology of the south cave means that the opening is the furthest a person can venture into the cave. Some of Hawai‘i’s rarest creatures, such as blind cave invertebrates, pale amphipods and isopods, and the eyeless cave spider, live in the cave and adjoining lava tubes.

Free Guided Tours

The best way to see Makauwahi Cave is through a free guided tour, which is held daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Knowledgeable volunteer guides walk visitors around the large amphitheater like sinkhole, pointing out interesting fossils and artifacts. The experience of seeing Makauwahi Cave is rich in history and information, it’s impossible not to appreciate Mother Nature’s splendor when standing within a sinkhole that was once teeming with wildlife and foliage that have now gone extinct.

After exploring the Makauwahi Cave, a quick jaunt over to the nearby Mahaulepu Beach for a beach stroll or visit to the nearby tortoise farm can be just what is needed to complete another perfect day on beautiful Kaua‘i!

For more information: http://www.cavereserve.org/