Yes, I know exactly what you are thinking.
I didn’t come to Hawaii for any swamp!
What could be fun about an adventure in the swamp?
Although the name is really bad marketing, the Alakai Swamp Trail is a true aloha adventure on foot and full of eye candy. It has not one, but multiple unforgettable lookouts and birds galore. However, don’t make the same mistakes that others before you, including myself have done.
Alakai Swamp Trail Tips:
- Get started early. You will want to have ample daylight. It’s eight miles roundtrip.
- Prepare for wet conditions. Bring a waterproof camera, good shoes, and by all means wear nothing white considering the dirt and mud are red.
The trailhead starts at the Puu Kila Lookout at the end of Waimea Canyon Road. Begin your hike by descending a mogul filled hill of red packed clay and mud, which leads you to an amazing, panoramic lookout with views of the Kalalau Valley and the beautiful Napali Coast on one side and the Alakai Swamp on the opposite. Although it is difficult to watch your feet and take in the breathtaking views, I suggest taking five from the ever-slippery trail to bask in the Utopian scenery as well as listen for mountain goats.
After about two miles, you will enter the next phase of the adventure, walking the planks. For the remainder of the hike, you continue down both wooden stairs and metal grate covered planks. Be careful as with the swamp environment all of the boards and stairs can be slippery even with the protective metal grates. Warning: many of the boards are partially decayed leaving room for error and stepping into a mucky mess. It isn’t an adventure until someone gets muddy!
Fret not! Once you reach an old telephone pole, you will know that you are only minutes away from another heavenly vista, the Kilohana Lookout. From it, you can see Wainiha Valley, Hanalei Bay, Princeville, Tunnels, and Lumahai Beach. By car, you would need to circumnavigate the entire island, about two hours and twenty minutes. However, by skirting the Kalalau Valley rim and cutting through the swamp, you reach a unique vantage point of the North Shore in about the same amount of time, but with your own two feet. Now this is ALOHA!
Once you return to your car, I suggest a picnic at the Kalalau Lookout. Drive only a matter of minutes, wash your hands at the public restrooms, and unpack some Hawaiian treats whether macadamia nuts or masube (spam and rice wrapped in seaweed paper) washed down with a POG (passion, orange, guava juice).
As always, stay up-to-date on more adventure travel stories and tips from New Zealand, Australia, Kauai, Florida, and more destinations by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. Lastly, if you enjoy my down-to-earth writing style with a little touch of sass & humor, check out my books, When All Balls Drop and With New Eyes.
Here’s to more good times and good stories!