Kalalau Valley is one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the Hawaiian Islands. There are several ways to visit or even explore this valley and its cliffs (na pali in Hawaiian). Most tourists (because they often only spend a few days on Kauai) choose the easiest option: they drive to Waimea Canyon by car for a day trip, further through Kokee State Park and up to the Kalalau Valley Lookout. From there, you have a postcard view of the crest of the 1000-meter-deep Kalalau Valley and the deep blue ocean. Although Waimea Canyon, over 20 kilometres long, takes up most of the trail, Kalalau is the highlight at the end with its own flora and fauna. Photographers will get their money's worth here but should bring enough time because of the tricky weather. The best results are achieved in the evening at sunset. This is when the cliffs shine in their most beautiful colours and the shadows of the cliff provide breathtaking drama. During the day, the sun is very high and the cliffs look a bit "boring". If you drive the road a bit further, you will reach Puu O Kila Lookout (from where the Alakai Swamp Trail also starts). The road ends here. The lookout offers a view over Kalalau from even higher up. However, this lookout is also closer to the "wettest spot on earth" and the chances are less to see the whole valley and the cliffs in clear weather.
On the way to the lookout, you pass Waimea Canyon with its numerous and unique lookouts and you can see the entire colour palette of the canyon. For the day trip (drive from Waimea into the canyon up to Kalalau Lookout and back), you should plan a whole day. Hiking enthusiasts should rent a cabin at Kokee Lodge and spend 2 or 3 nights up in Kokee State Park. This gives you enough time to hike unique trails such as the Alakai Swamp Trail, the Nualolo Trail, or the Waimea Canyon Trail. After the hike, you can head to Kalalau Lookout (about 10 min from Kokee Lodge) for a picnic in the evening to enjoy the sunset. Many vacationers are disappointed when they see nothing but fog there. So maybe you will have more luck the next evening.
Another way to see the valley is from the air. For this purpose, various helicopter providers offer sightseeing flights over the island from Lihue. For photographers, an "off-door" flight with "Jack Harter" is recommended, which is a bit more expensive than "Sunshine" or "Paradise Helicopter", but the differences are worth it!
Or you can choose a Zodiac tour to see the Na Pali Coast from the sea. You can book a tour with the "Na Pali Riders", who sail around the entire coast, including swimming with dolphins. They also take you to the water cave "Open Ceiling Cave" not far from Kalalau Valley, which can only be reached by boat. You can also rent a kayak and explore the coast in your own time. However, you will have about 20 km on the water in front of you on the way there and back. In the winter months, this is certainly not much fun and is even quite dangerous. In quiet summer months, however, for fit adventurers, it is definitely manageable.
To get to the valley on foot, the only option is to take the strenuous but unique Kalalau Trail. However, the 18-kilometre trail is only suitable for people who are physically fit and can take on a long and sometimes difficult or steep route. The prerequisite is good physical and mental preparation as well as a permit to run the trail. With that, you can camp in complete isolation for 1 or 2 nights on Kalalau Beach and share the paradise for with very few others.