Kauai’s Na Pali Coast: land of many cliffs

The Na Pali Coast is a 17-mile stretch on the island of Kauai’s northwest corner. You can explore it by most means possible — by foot, boat and helicopter. By car is not an option: The terrain is too rugged for a road.

Kauai is the fourth largest of the seven inhabited Hawaiian islands — more than 500 square miles — with dozens and dozens and dozens of beaches. Some of the coast’s brick-red cliffs (“na pali” means “many cliffs”) rise 4,000 feet above the Pacific. Valleys and ridges are carpeted in hundreds of shades of green. The ocean is Smurf blue. Today none of the Na Pali Coast’s canyons are inhabited — the area is a 6,175-acre state wilderness park — but people did live in all of them into the early 20th century. Some canyons had as many as several thousand residents.

From the ground, hiking along the Kalalau Trail, you see a hot mess of jungle on one side and cliffs and the ocean on the other. From the air and ocean, there are no signs that humans have ever been there; you can’t even imagine anyone penetrating such a thick, forbiddingly fecund landscape.

The Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast is serious business. Because of its narrowness and exposure — in its 11 miles, it sometimes traverses sheer cliffs that drop hundreds of feet to the ocean — and penchant for flash flooding, Backpacker Magazine once determined the Kalalau one of the 10 most dangerous trails in the United States. But it’s also on lists of the most beautiful. National Geographic’s top-15 list described it as “the finest coastal hike in the world.”

Read full story…


Similar Posts:

The following are paid links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.