What you get with the Kalalau lookout – Incredible views of the Napali Coast without any hiking
I guarantee you’ve already seen pictures of the insanely amazing looking Napali Coast. These world famous mountains with their “spine ridge cliffs” have been featured in hundreds of movies and TV shows.
If you haven’t noticed them, just review any of your favorite movies featured on a tropical island paradise and there is a good chance it features the Napali Coast.
Though the Napali coast is absolutely gorgeous, it does have a deserved reputation for being hard to access. There are no roads going directly to it and the most common way to access it is either a grueling 11 mile hiking trail with a difficult permitting process or a once in a lifetime paid tour (recommendations below).
So many people don’t realize that you there is a much easier and much much cheaper way to see the Kalalau Valley.
The Kalalau Lookout allows you to drive up, take in an amazing view of the Napali Coast and then get back in your car and leave (if you aren’t in the mood for a hike).
Tip – If you are in mood for a hike, I highly recommend the Kalepa Ridge Trail hike (it has the most amazing views of the Napali coast) and conveniently the trailhead is at the Kalalau Lookout.
This gorgeous lookout point requires no hike, no advance registration, and has a parking lot just feet away from the actual lookout. If you do want to hike, there are a number of super popular trails in the area.
Kalalau Lookout Location
The Kalalau lookout is located in the western part of Kokee State Park on the wesetern coast of Kauai. It is easily accessible with an hour drive from the south side of Kauai’s resort areas.
If you are coming from the Princeville area you are going to have to circle around the whole island, which will likely take you about 2 hours.
WARNING – HUGE DIFFERENCE – Kalalau Trail vs Kalalau Lookout
Roads from the northwest side of Kauai do not connect with road to the southwest side of Kauai. If you end up on the wrong side of the Napali coast you are going to have to drive for a couple hours all the way back around the island.
Do not mistakenly put the Kalalau Trail in your GPS instead of Kalalau Lookout. The trail leaves from the northwest side while the lookout is access from the southwest.
Kalalau Valley Clarification
Generally the term Kalalau Valley is the entire area and is more generally used, but I would say most often they talk about the Kalalau Trail descending into the Kalalau Valley, even though the lookout looks into the same valley.
Parking and Facilities
There is a parking lot that is generally big enough to handle all of the requested visitors. If it does fill up, you can usually just wait for a couple minutes since a lot of people quickly come and go from the viewpoint.
There are also restrooms and picnic tables in the area.
Kalalau Lookout Cost
To access Kokee State Park you are supposed to pay a $10 parking fee and $5 per person in the parking lot. There are small kiosks in this and a few other parking lots.
Available tours near the Kalalau Lookout
The lookout point is just going to inspire you to want to take in even more of the cliffs. There are a number of Kalalau tours that will give you a much more up close experience. The top ones I recommend are…
- Private Waimea Canyon Tour – This is a full day tour that will take you to so many of my favorite places. Including the Kalalau Lookout, Poipu Beach Resort and Spouting Horn. As well as Waipo’o Falls and Wailua Falls! I mean, you really can’t go wrong with this one. Check out this page for more details.
- Kauai’s Waimea Canyon and South Side Private Guided Tour – This private tour is great if you are traveling with a group. (Up to 8 people allowed) The great thing about this is you also get to split the cost! Head here for more details.
The Kalalau Trail is probably the most popular trail in Hawaii.
It is 11 miles long and goes down the mountains to the Napali Coast beaches. It is a grueling, steep, and slippery hike.
It also requires you to make a reservation and purchase a permit, which are usually sold out far in advance.
If interseted, there are a limited number of camping permits available that allow visitors to stay down at the end of the trail.
If you want to actually visit the Kalalau Beach you have to do this intense hike or one of the tours above.
Kalalau Lookout Weather (What to expect)
This is another thing to beware of. At times fog can set in the Kalalau valley and obstruct the views. If you want to avoid this, generally it is less obscured in the morning.
Don’t let clouds on your drive up dissuade you though as the weather can be completely differerent within the valley.
One of the times on my drive up it was overcast and raining, yet somehow from the top it was perfectly clear and sunny looking out into the Kalalau Valley.
Morning views tend to be better, afternoon sometimes obstructed. Been twice in afternoon wasn’t obsructed, but beware
Other Nearby Attractions
If these 2,000 foot high cliffs aren’t enough there are plenty of other things to see in the area.
Waimea Canyon Lookouts & Hikes: There are a number of Waimea Canyon lookouts that show the colorful mini (but not actually mini) version of the Grand Canyon.
Kalepa Ridge Trail – This is a MUST DO hike in Kauai. There are a number of hikes in the area, but my favorite is the one that actually leaves from this lookout, the Kalepa Ridge Trail.
Planning a trip to Kauai? Read everything we know about Kauai here:
My husband and I have been to Kauai many, many times and have written up more guides to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Kauai travel guides to help you plan your trip.
Best Beaches for Snorkeling on Kauai
- TUNNELS BEACH IN KAUAI (amazing snorkeling, swimming, seals) – one of my personal favorite beaches own the entire island!
- KE’E BEACH ON KAUAI – great snorkeling, swimming, but you have to make reservation in advance – it was a nightmare.
- Hideaway’s Beach – Amazing snorkeling on the North Shore.
- Anini Beach – (Snorkeling, fishing, swimming) Great for basically everything.
- Kalapaki Beach in Kauai – Kids beach. Perfect beach for families, beginner snorkeling and swimming!
Best Cliff Jumping in Kauai
- SHIPWRECK BEACH ON KAUAI – Amazing cliff jumping beach
- QUEEN’S BATH KAUAI: COMPLETE GUIDE – Another must visit!
More awesome beaches
- MOLOA’A BEACH ON KAUAI – Insanely underrated. Giligans Island was filmed here. This beach was another one of my favorites. Practically empty.
- Lumaha’i Beach Kauai – What you need to know before going
- Secret Beach Kauai! (aka Kauapea beach) – MUST see beach!
- Haena Beach – We saw a Monk Seal on this beach!
- Gillin’s Beach – Fairly secluded beach where you can ride horses!
- Donkey Beach – Underrated – practically deserted beach
- Hanalei Beach – Gorgeous beach, perfect for sunsets.
- Salt Pond Beach Park – Amazing beach for kids and families (You can camp here as well)
- Black Pot Beach
Kauai Hiking Guides
- WAILUA FALLS HIKE ON KAUAI – AMAZING WATERFALL HIKE! Probably my favorite hike I have ever done.
- KALEPA RIDGE TRAIL – BEST HIKE IN HAWAII…SERIOUSLY. Trust me, don’t leave this one off your list! It’s GORGEOUS!
- MAKALEHA TRAIL – Amazing trail that is extremely muddy. 100% worth it!
- CANYON TRAIL TO WAIPO’O FALLS
- Pihea Trail – Easy hike on Kauai with Na’pali Coast Views!
- Makauwahi Cave Trail – Kauai Hidden gem
Read about all the hikes we have done in Kauai here.
Read all other posts on Kauai here.