Hiking along the Na Pali Coast is the definition of Hawaii: raw beauty.
Na Pali translates to ‘The Cliffs.’ Hiking along the Kalalau Trail will make you feel small beside the sheer ridges that drop thousands of feet. No road passes through this rugged wilderness. The Na Pali Coast spans approximately 16 miles from Ke’e Beach, where you will begin your journey, to Polihale State Park.
Since we were located on the north shore, we were in luck with getting to the trailhead, it was only a half hour drive from Princeville. We still wanted to leave very early because we were told the parking lot at Ke’e Beach fills up, so we left just before the rising sun. Remember to bring water, snacks, wear good shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. There are bathroom facilities. On the way to the parking lot we stopped briefly to check out the caves along the road. One wet and one dry, both mysterious and beautiful.
We planned on hiking the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach, a four mile round trip out and back unforgettable hike.
Some hikers choose to take the trail to the end, eleven miles out into the pristine wilderness, and camp. If you plan on hiking out past the Hanakapi’ai Valley you need to acquire a permit. Sounds like a dream to complete the full length of this trail, but no easy feat. Even two miles out on this trail wasn’t easy. On our visit it was extremely muddy, and as the day progressed hot and sweaty. Switchbacks taking you up will give sublime views of the ocean and coastline,
and switchbacks down take you across rivers,
and onto the beach.
It can be difficult to stay dry during a river crossing after heavy rains. We decided to just take off our boots and walk through the refreshing water instead of slipping and sliding rock hopping to get out to the beach. The beach was gorgeous, but hazardous for swimming. Heed the many signs warning you “waves break on ledge,” “dangerous shore break,” “strong current,” and “high surf.” Take a walk, dip your feet, sit on one of the many rocks. If the tide is right you might be able to reach a cave along the shore. For us this was the turn around point and we went back the way we came, a bit slower to take in all of the little details. We noticed a variety of little waterfalls,
a rock that resembled a face,
and some amazing wildlife.
We never tired of the jagged angular cliff tops and perfect vistas.
This trail is truly one of the most stunning you can take and well worth the effort of the hike. It is easy to see why the trail is infamous and the land is known as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Do not leave Kauai without taking a hike on the Kalalau Trail!