So after bumming around Kauai and Maui for a month with my wife I found myself back in Oahu for a few days of work along with sunshine and a thirst for more exploration. Now I did not do much research about hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail. I knew it was illegal and moderately patrolled, but nothing compared to the Stairway to Heaven hike. From hitchhiking around the east side and taking Bus 55 I knew the trailhead started somewhere near Punalu’u Beach Park. I won’t give exact directions, but if you take the #55 bus and use common sense you will be able to find the hike. Please, I do not recommend hiking this trail. This is why I did not provide directions, just my personal experiences hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail. In my personal opinion, if you pick a sunny day after a few days of sunshine then your hiking experience should be fine. Nothing is certain 100%, but please do not be the dumb ass who hikes it in torrential rainfall or high winds. You are just asking to get clobbered in the head with falling rocks, experience potential land slides or even rock slides. Once you are at the Sacred Falls waterfall the only way out is back through the valley you hiked in through. So pick a great weather day to do the hike, bring high ankle support boots to get you through the squishy, slippery, jungle mud and cross the streams with much caution as you will hike through a series of flash flood areas. Do not hike this trail in December during the worst month of rainy season. The trail is surprisingly easy to follow and is pretty well maintained despite being illegal. I thought hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail was an easy to moderate, 4-mile, round trip hike (2 miles in, 2 miles out) and definitely worth the trip. Keep in mind if you get caught you will get fined $2,500 for your first offense. Know your limits. Know your skill level. And most importantly if you choose to break the law criminal trespassing, hiking Hawaii’s Sacred Falls trail, use common sense and be safe. Don’t run, yell or go out in inclement weather. People have died here. That’s why it’s illegal. So keep that in mind.
If you’re a backpacker or a hitchhiker you can travel Maui on a cheap budget and live large. Large enough to see the whole island and the little nooks and crannies in between away from the main stream tourism.
You should come well equipped with camping gear to sleep in all types of inclement weather. Important items to bring to Hawaii are:
Rope for tying down your tarp shelter
Stakes for making lean-tos
A big enough tarp to cover both you and your stuff
Waterproof jacket, pants, and boots…it rains a lot…you will get caught in it eventually
A 50 liter garbage bag to act as a dry bag liner for your clothes and other gear in your backpack
Ziploc bags to cover smaller items from getting wet
Headlamp or flashlight
Two empty 1.5 liter bottles for water
Smartwool socks or anything that isn’t made of cotton of takes too long to dry
Preferably a synthetic 0 or 20 degree sleeping bag
A bivy sack or mosquito netting if the bugs like your blood
A pot and a pan to cook
A lighter or flint and steel to start a fire
In order to travel Maui on a cheap budget you should set a total budget of what you want to spend and separate budgets on the following, transportation (possible bus fare), food, camping gear, and laundry. Whatever categories you spend less in you can splurge a bit in other areas as your trip comes to an end.
Kauai really surprised me with its diverse scenery from tropical jungle flora to arid desert canyons similar to the Grand Canyon. The Garden Island lived up to its name. Originally we started this neck of the trip with no expectations or destinations, wandering wherever our thumbs and feet took us. That’s what we did until the end. We hitched the whole island from the Kalalau Trailhead to the Kalalau Lookout in Waimea Canyon. We cast our footprints on Hideaways Beach, Kealia Beach, and Glass Beach among others which remain unnamed solely because we never knew their names.
The Kalalau Trail came and left like a faint glimpse in a dream, but our efforts continued to explore Kauai for an undetermined amount of time. After a tedious 22 mile hike through sopping, mud puddles, and unstable, jagged terrain, I left the eye-dropping cliffhangers behind for a new adventure, hitchhiking Kauai.
Now my wife never really hitchhiked before. As a kid she once hitched a ride with a milk man when her mother’s car broke down, but all this came new to her. And with every new experience came its own fears, but it started off quite smoothly.
We landed in Kauai rather late after hitching a ride to the airport with Kalei’s ex-boyfriend. As we walked out of the airport I sensed a more laid back environment than Oahu. Maybe the rural, scenic highway walking down Route 56 skewed my judgement, or maybe walking straight for Kalalau Trail from the airport without a shuttle, taxi, or bus did it. I did not know.
But, that first night walking past the WalMart, wild camping off in the jungle with Kelly felt more memorable than ever. We slept at the top of an embankment off the highway with vines, palm leaves and roots all cattywampus around our bivy sacks.