Regardless of how much time you spend on the island of Kauai, one of your must-visit destinations on the North side of Kauai is Haena State Park! This Guide to Haena State Park will ensure you have a great day exploring. While the Hawaiian island of Kauai has no National Parks, this state park is just as beautiful as many National Parks that I’ve been to! Truly this state park is so stunning.
The most important thing is to ensure you have a reservation and you bring everything you need for the activities you plan to do while you’re there.
Read on for all of the details in this guide to Haena State Park Kauai to help you plan for your transportation to Haena State Park, what to do while you’re there, and what to bring to ensure you have an amazing day! Let’s dive into the details.
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About Haena State Park
Haena State Park is located on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. It’s situated on the Northern Part of the island near the city of Hanalei and it encompasses part of the famously stunning coastline of the Na Pali Coast State Park Wilderness Park (which is beyond Haena State Park but you can access it via the Kalalau Trail via Haena State Park.)
There are many things to do in Haena State Park. You can relax and soak in some rays on the well known Ke’e Beach, snorkel off the shore when you want to check out the marine life, or hike the well known Kalalau Trail to several stunning lookout points and destinations. We’ll get into more details on all of the activities in Haena State Park in a bit!
How to get to Haena State Park
There are two ways you can get into Haena State Park. In both options, you will drive to the park, but it just determines where you will park. There are very limited parking spots actually in the park so you must make a reservation in advance! (30 days in advance)
Then you will ride the Kauai North Shore Shuttle into the state park. Shuttles run daily from the parking that’s located outside of the park and it isn’t bad if you plan appropriately to park a little farther away and utilize the shuttle to Haena State Park system.
Entrance & Parking Fees
Haena State Park reservations are required for park entry. If you’re visiting and not a Hawaiian resident, each person will have to pay a $5 entry fee as well as a $10 parking fee. Remember that the tickets will also have each individual’s name on them (and you will need to have your ID in case they ask to verify.) You will also need to select a time slot for your Haena State Park shuttle reservations.
The park and ride shuttle will drop you off where the limited parking is located. If you’re riding the shuttle, you can only park at Waipa Park and ride parking lot. It is forbidden to park at any of the other shuttle stops. When you are dropped off at the final shuttle stop there is a 0.4 mile walk to Ke’e Beach and the trailhead for the Kalaulu trail for hiking.
Guide for Visiting Haena State Park: Things to do
You could spend multiple days in Haena State Park. If you’re lucky enough to snag a few reservations during a week on Kauai you’d have much more time to relax and also hike a good portion of the Kalalulu Trail which is on the stunning Na Pali Coastline.
Ke’e Beach is located just past the furthest point you can drive on the road along the North Shore of Kauai. There is a lifeguard present on the beach as well as ample shady areas to lay out and relax. Separate Kee Beach reservations aren’t needed as long as you’ve paid for parking and the Haena State Park reservation.
It’s very common to see sea wildlife on the beach such as Hawaiian monk seals. If they are roped off, keep your distance and respect their space.
If you plan to snorkel be sure to bring your own mask and fins! There aren’t any rentals available within the park.
Hike the Kalalulu Trail
The Kalalulu Trail isn’t for the faint of heart. Even hiking just a small section of the trail you will experience the sun and winds coming off of the coast as well as battling a very steep incline much of the way.
However, if you’re like me and more of a day hiker you can do a smaller section of the trail and still enjoy part of the day at Ke’e Beach. If you choose to hike past Hanakāpī’ai Valley it will require obtaining a camping permit. Let’s get into the details!
Hanakāpī’ai Falls Hike
The hike along the Kalalulu trail to Hanakapiai Falls and back is just under 8 miles. So it’s a good day hike length. But with a significant elevation gain of just under 2,500 ft, it will still be a pretty strenuous effort. However, if you want to hike and take in the stunning views of the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast you can choose some even shorter options.
Hanakāpī’ai Beach Hike
From the start of the Kalalulu Trailhead to Hanakapiai Beach is the shortest option along the Kalalulu Trail at 3.7 miles. Many parts of the trail can be muddy so wear appropriate footwear and do not attempt to hike here in inclement weather. The views are worth it though!
Things to bring to Haena State Park
For an amazing day in Haena State Park be sure to bring things that are appropriate for your plans.
We hiked part of the day so I wore my hiking gear including a hat that shaded my face and extra sunscreen. (Be sure that you have reef safe sunscreen!) I wore hiking boots with sandals packed in my bag and a light rain jacket just in case.
My camelbak style hiking backpack was filled with ample drinking water. In my backpack, I also brought snacks and a change of clothes including a swimsuit for the beach.
Helpful tips for Haena State Park
- Open hours: Be sure to know the opening hours of the park as they’re different during Summer vs. Winter months. Summer hours begin April 1st until winter hours after Labor Day in September.
- Transportation: Know your transportation plan in advance! Vehicle reservations and parking for Haena State Park is extremely limited! If you’re using the shuttle, be sure you know what stop you need to be at and the appropriate time. Don’t be late! There is standby availability but it isn’t guaranteed. Overnight parking is also prohibited unless you have a Kalalau Trail camping permit.
- Hiking Planning: Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to hike the Kalalau trail! A camping permit is also required if you plan on hiking past the Hanakapi’ai Valley. You will possibly get muddy! There are stream crossings and parts of the Kalalau Trail get very wet.
- Cell Service: Plan to not have cell service while in the park. Plan ahead by downloading your entry passes for the park (and camping pass if applicable.) and any offline maps you want to have access to.
- Respect nature: Keep a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter. Dispose of trash properly and practice leave no trace principles to keep the park looking beautiful.
FAQs: Guide to Haena State Park
Can you go to Haena Park without a Reservation?
No. You are required to have a reservation to visit Haena State Park. Reservations are available 30 days prior to your desired date of visit. If you aren’t able to secure a reservation for your desired date you can also check the day of from 7-8 AM HST for possible availability due to cancellations.
Is Haena State Park worth visiting?
Yes, Haena State Park is most definitely worth visiting while in Kauai. You will experience the beauty of the northern part of the island of Kauai including the stunning dramatic coastline of the Na Pali Coast. Ke’e Beach located in Haena State Park is also a must! Be sure to spend at least a day in Haena State Park.
Is Tunnels Beach inside Haena State Park?
No. Tunnels Beach is located in Haena Beach Park which is near Haena State Park but not actually in the state park. Tunnels Beach is a popular place to snorkel and swim in the same area as the State Park. It’s located right by the state park in Haena Beach Park Kauai past Hanalei.
Can you take an Uber to Haena State Park?
Yes. Keep in mind these caveats, it will be really expensive, and trying to get an Uber back isn’t necessarily guaranteed. You could schedule one in advance possibly but most Ubers hang out in places where more rides are requested. You’ll still have to pay the entrance fee to the park.
Does Haena State Park have food?
No. There aren’t any food or drink purchase opportunities in Haena State Park. It is essential to plan ahead by packing a cooler and a bag with ample food, snacks, and especially water and drinks for the time you’ll visit the state park. If you’re hiking, be sure to bring a water bladder or CamelBak for your backpack.
Final Thoughts: Guide to Haena State Park
I hope this guide to Haena State Park helps you to prepare for an amazing day in a beautiful Hawaiian State Park while in Kauai. It’s one of my top recommendations for things to do when visiting Kauai. There are many tours to view the stunning NaPali Coastline, but not many to visit Haena State Park.
Remember to bring the appropriate things to prepare you for the day, book your reservation in advance (or check for cancellations on the day of!), be realistic when hiking, and above all don’t forget to take in the beauty while visiting the state park.
If you’re traveling beyond Kauai to other Hawaiian islands such as Maui, Oahu, or the Big Island check out my other Hawaii posts! Including where to have a post-hike beer in my Kauai Beer Guide. Mahalo!