What are the dangers of hiking on Kauai?

Jul 1, 2021 | General Information

Hiking on Kauai can be both awe inspiring and dangerous. Like a Venus Fly Trap the beauties of Kauai can lure the uninitiated hikers into situations they are not prepared for and the statistics clearly show that accidents happen often to those who are not prepared and who have little idea as to what they are getting into when they choose to take a day hike into Kauai’s wild and beautiful landscapes.

Often referred to as one of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the world, the hike on the Kalalau Trail along the coastline of Na Pali is perhaps the prime example of how danger and mishap can occur in a moment’s notice. Though the hike itself is known for its 11 mile stretch of trail etched along the steep ocean cliffs it also beckons the less adventurous who choose to hike just the first two miles from the trailhead at Ke’e Beach to the beautiful beach at Hanakapiai and then hike up the valley to the astoundingly beautiful waterfall at the base of Hanakapiai Valley.
This day hike does not require permits as do the longer Kalalau hikes and often attracts a wide variety of visitors who are very unaccustomed to the notion of hiking on a regular or even occasional basis. This fact can be born out on any given sunny day as the trail winding up and down the cliffs is often filled with back to back hikers patiently waiting for each other to scurry up or down the narrow slopes or trail bottlenecks as they enjoy the remarkable views.

The sheer number of hikers in itself often creates the illusion of safety along the trails and overlooks and streams but this notion of safety can be shattered in a matter of minutes as evidenced by a recent two day rescue of 121 people who were cut off from their trail by a flashflood in the valley. Over the course of years there have been many accidents causing injury and fatalities as well. Conditions can change in a moment and rocks and soil can become slippery and with little margin for safety narrow trails can become deadly.

This all leads to the mantra of ‘caution’ when hiking the many beautiful trails to be found all around Kauai. It is important to know where you are going, how long it might take, what provisions you need to bring and what to expect on your journey. In many cases it would be advisable for many people to rely upon the services of a hiking company to take you in and out of the remote and beautiful scenic spots on the island.