Paradise found on the oldest of the major Hawaiian Islands
Salt Pond Beach Park was a good first night stay in Kaua’i. Lots of space to set up tents and right on its own little cove. There is no need to get a permit at the office because the ranger comes by a little after 6:00 each morning and collects $5 a person. So crazy cheap and easy, or free if you just come after sunset and leave before 6:00. They do have water, picnic tables, bathrooms, outdoor showers and sinks for dishes. Butttttt they also have chickens. Lots of chickens. Apparently the word is that the chicken just try to be louder than the one before it. It isn’t too bad when there are 6-8 chickens. But if there are 65? They start at about 1:30 AM and go until sunrise which means you get no sleep in a paper-thin tent. For some reason I can't find my photos from Salt Pond.
Koke’e State Park was just 30 or so miles from Salt Pond but this is about 1/3 the distance of the whole island from tip to tip. To get there you are driving across a ridge of mountains with killer views of the Waimea Canyon. It is situated way up at 4000 feet overlooking the Nā Pali coast. We had a lot of cloud cover that day but we were still able to get down a muddy trail to the top of Waipo’o Falls.
They had 2 weeks of straight rain before we were there and the park ranger didn’t seem to think the hikes were a good idea. We went to the trailhead and some middle aged self-proclaimed “non-exercisers” were finishing up. They said it wasn’t too difficult and the mud was only bad for the first ¼ mile or so. I’m so glad we listened to those “non-exercisers” and did it. (I was hesitant because of an incident involving a big marble table crashing into my foot and what feels like breaking it. It had only been rested for a week or so before the hike but it was manageable).
We drove all the way around the island to almost the same point because the road doesn’t go through the Nā Pali State Wilderness Park. The end of the road is Hāʻena State Park and where the Kalalau Trail starts.
Just about a half mile back down the street is the beloved Hāʻena Beach Park which is another small little cove but it has a huge surf break. Although much of the water has coral and sandstone there are a few gaps that some daredevil surfers take on 6-10 footers.
Unfortunately the rain did not really let up at all after about sunset so we abandoned camping for $5 and getting soaked at Hāʻena to go to stay on a pullout bed in a common area of an overbooked hostel in Kapa’a. It was a proper hostel with lots of character and great common areas and kitchen space. We were so glad to be able to shower after a few days of camping and be able to stay dry all night with a roof.
Right before heading to the airport we went to Wailua Falls. You can drive right up to the falls and not walk at all which is really nice. We also spotted a pig taking a nap.
On the next visit I would like to do the Kalalau Trail for a night or two of camping. Unfortunately, once we had left the island it experienced even more monsoon-like rain and bad flooding.
For the most part it’s just laid back island people but you have to be wary of some of the locals. They can get kind of territorial sometimes.
I wanted to add the usual route map I have made but the floods washed out parts of the road that take you to Hāʻena so Google maps wont allow me to create directions to there. Had to freestyle a bit.