Na Pali Coast
Kaua'i Island, Hawai'i
July 4, 2006

 

The Na Pali Coast is one of the premier hikes anywhere on earth - no understatement, either! "Na Pali" simply translates as "The Cliffs", and that's exactly what these are: a long, unbroken, astoundingly beautiful (and treacherous) wall of cliffs dropping into the ocean off of Kauai's north coast. On our brief 3-day visit to Kauai we had planned a hike here as a priority, and as luck had it, we hiked the trail on our 3rd wedding anniversary. Of course, being Independence Day, the island (and the trail) was overloaded with tourists. It was a crowded day, but still very beautiful. In fact, the trade winds were blowing strong enough to move the ever-present clouds off the coast, and we were rewarded with just some amazing views.

We drove about 60 miles along the coast from Poipu through Lihue and Princeville to the end of the road at Ke'e (?) State Beach. Parking was a mess and we found a spot in an overload lot about 1/4-mile from the trailhead. After getting situated we walked to the large kiosk at the start of the trail, called the Kalalau Trail. The whole trail extends about 12 miles or so west, but the vast majority of people hike just the first two miles to a secluded beach called Hanakapiai Beach. From what I read, the trail afterwards is a lot more rugged and unmaintained. Given we had a day, this two-mile hike (each way) seemed to be perfect. We started hiking about 10 a.m.

Immediately the trail gains steeply up rocks and roots, and gains a fast 300 feet to an overlook above the beach (see photo 2). Afterwards it's a nice trail, higging the cliffs very tightly - with vertical drops below and gradients above. The trail is well-maintained and features a little of everything: thick overgrown sections, open views, uphills and downhills, seeps, springs and creeks, waterfalls, pools and outstanding views into the azure ocean.

We reached the descent to Hanakapiai Beach after about an hour, then spent an enjoyable full hour relaxed on the rocks of the stream that flows into the ocean. Indescribable views. A perfect place to sit and admire the loveliness. The hike out was equally enjoyable, and we celebrated our third anniversary together at a luau with my family that evening.

Like the Grand Canyon, this is a place that must be seen in person. Go!

Photos (Click to enlarge)


The start of the Kalalau Trail. Beth reads up on the info kiosk


After a few moments, we look back at the nearby Beach


Beth below a prominent 'tooth' on the skyline.


Looking west along the coast. My what blue water!


Beth poses along the trail.


We start our descent to Hanakapiai Beach.


Don't mess with the beach, man.


At the beach.


Looking up back toward Kawaikini's flanks.


Formation at the beach.


The skyline.


Exiting, the trail's a bit rough here.

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(c) 2006 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.