If you didn’t plan ahead, you are now scouring Google searching how to sneak into Haena State Park and how to hike the Kalalau Trail without a permit. These are both things that we searched for and found nothing, which is why I am currently writing this article. We talked to locals, read the comments on the articles that we did find, and tried to find out as much information as possible about getting past the guards at Haena State Park. The answer was all the same, that we could not get into the park without a permit. We are here to tell you that you absolutely can, and we did just that!
So you have made it all the way to Kauai. You have basked in the sun. You have been to the Waimea Canyon. You have swam in the beautiful waters, and frolicked on the beaches. Word has now trickled in that Haena State Park has re-opened and you want to hike the fabled Kalalau Trail. But there is a problem. The newly re-opened Haena State park comes with new regulations. Those new regulations are in the form of day passes, and parking passes, all issued by the Hawaiian government. Although this may not seem like a big deal, it was for us because we were only in Kauai for 6 days, and the passes were booked up for at least the next two weeks. Here is a link to the government website to book the permits for the Kalalau Trail by the way: Click Here
Follow along below because there are multiple options for hiking the trail without a permit. If you are not a morning person, this article is not for you, because they all require you to wake up early. Haena State Park opens at 6:30AM, so as long as you get to the park before then, you will get into the park, and be able to hike the trail. Keep in mind that at this time, there are no gates, guards, or anything to prevent you from getting in. These are the options that you have to hike the Kalalau Trail without a permit.
Option 1: Park at Haena Beach Park and walk to the park, accessing the trailhead
Haena Beach Park is the closest public parking to Haena State Park, and it is exactly 1.25 miles from the Kalalau Trailhead. We recommend showing up to park here at 6AM at the latest, and walk on the road and right into the state park following the signs for the trail. The parking lot is public, and you will not get ticketed or towed by parking here. Just make sure that you park in the designated areas. There was only one other person that was parked there when we arrived at 6AM, so you won’t have much competition this early.
Option 2: Take an Uber from Princeville or Hanalei
I hate to admit it, but I didn’t even think about taking this route before we went on our adventures. But as we were walking into the entrance to Haena State Park, we saw a couple being dropped off by an Uber and instantly became jealous. The only problem with this option is that it probably costs a decent amount of money. So if you are looking to save money, this is probably a bad idea. It is a 30 minute drive from Hanalei to the entrance to the state park, so keep that in mind. If you have the money, and just happened to not realize that you can’t get a permit for the park, get the Uber.
Option 3: Don’t sneak in
If you have stumbled upon this article, you probably do not have the option of getting a permit. Now you have to try and hike the Kalalau Trail without a permit. If you still really want to do the hike, refer to all the text above option 3. Make sure to check all of the entrance options before committing to sneaking in. These 3 options include day passes, parking permits, and shuttle reservations.
Haena Beach Park (Public Parking) – 22.219677, -159.566244
Haena State Park Entrance – 22.220534, -159.577097
Kalalau Trailhead – 22.220288, -159.582833
Hanakapiai Beach – 22.208750, -159.597934
We were actually told that if you do end up encountering a park ranger or someone that would deter you from sneaking into Haena State Park, you can always slip them a $20 bill and they will let you in. So maybe it would be a good idea to bring some cash for that. Keep in mind, that this is just a rumor, and your experience may differ.
If you are sneaking into Haena State Park and trying to hike the Kalalau Trail without a permit, you probably already know standard safety precautions when it comes to a difficult hike. We recommend bringing plenty of water, some snacks, sunscreen, and a bathing suit for swimming at the beach. Please pick up after yourself and grab any trash you see on the way back.
You are trying to sneak into Haena State Park and hike the Kalalau Trail without a permit. In order to do this, you simply need to show up before the guards get there and start asking people for permits. They show up at 6:30AM, so get there anytime before that and you are golden. We recommend getting there before 6:15AM just to give yourself a buffer. Park at Haena Beach Park and walk on the road to the entrance, or get an Uber to the entrance of the park, and head straight for the trailhead. Enjoy yourself, take in the views, be safe, and respect the State Park.
Disclaimer: This is all subject to change. Just because it worked for us, it might not work for you as the park starts to iron out its processes.
Part of us being able to do this trip was by using points acquired through our American Express platinum card. See our blog post about the benefits of the Amex Platinum and why we have the card.
Follow along with us on Instagram at @EarthOffTheGrid