The Na Pali Coast Hawaii
The Na Pali Coast State Park is set on Hawaii’s fourth largest island, Kauai. It is often referred to as one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. There are rugged cliffs and narrow valleys that abruptly drop down to the ocean. The coastline is accessible to visitors from the Kalalau Trail, boat, or helicopter.
Kauai is one of the oldest inhabited Hawaiian islands. Polynesian navigators were the first to settle on the coast, where they grew crops brought over from their native lands like sweet potatoes and breadfruit. For hundreds of years, Hawaiians built self-sustaining communities here before Europeans and Westerners eventually arrived in Hawaii. Beginning in the 1960s, many travel magazines began to feature the Na Pali Coast, referring to it as “The Garden of Eden”. This sparked much tourism and an interest to settle on the inhabited land. This influx of visitors drove the state to start regulating the area.
The Na Pali Coast State Park is now 6,175 acres along the coast, with over 16 miles of shoreline. The cliffs rise as high as 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. You can probably imagine how difficult it is to reach the shoreline.
The most popular route to the Na Pali Coast is through the Kalalau Trail. It is an 11-mile hike. It is very challenging with large cliffs, stream crossings, and narrow passages. It takes a full day to hike the trail one way. Experts recommend blocking off around 3 days to hike the whole thing, there and back. If you’re not up for that kind of adventure, there are portions of the trail that will lead you to some beautiful beaches and waterfalls.
For a more extravagant adventure, you can splurge on a helicopter ride to see an aerial view of the coastline. The flight will take you over the cliffs, waterfalls, and even some beaches that are inaccessible to most visitors. There are numerous helicopter tours that you can arrange in the nearby town.
or boaters, however, I’m sure the sea route will spark your interest. The boat tours offer motorized options or a more leisurely ride with a sailing catamaran. For a workout you can make the trip by kayak. This is only an option in the summer when the water is calm. Regardless of your chosen vessel, you’ll likely share the water with dolphins and even some humpback whales!
Camping in the park is very popular. They limit reservations to a certain number per day and only allow campers to stay 3-5 nights, depending on the campsite. Permits are available 90 days in advance. They book up quickly, so try to reserve a spot as early as possible. If you miss out on a reservation, you cannot use the backup plan of pitching a tent along the trailhead. You can, however, book a hotel or Airbnb elsewhere in Kauai. There are plenty of available options.