When people picture Kauai, many people imagine Kauai’s iconic jagged cliffs of the North shore, aka, the Napali Coast. Napali in Hawaiian means cliffs, making the Napali Coast is the Cliff Coast. This is fitting since this area is home to some of Hawaii’s most scenic cliffs.
With so many gorgeous cliffs that seem to cut into the sky, it’s no wonder why the Napali Coast is a destination many ambitious climbers, explorers, and backpackers to hike.
The Napali Coast has about eleven miles of coastline to hike, starting from Ke’e Beach and heading down the coast along different sections of the Kalalau Trail. But hiking the Napali Coast trails isn’t for the faint of heart. Much of the terrain is steep and difficult to hike. Furthermore, some areas of the Kalalau Trail require special permits and can take a few days to traverse. So make sure to plan your visit ahead of time and visit Kauai at one of the best times of year.
Follow along below to learn more about how you might be able to hike the Napali Coast and the various stops you can make along the way.
The Kalalau Trail
If you imagined that hiking the Napali Coast would be easy, you would be wrong. The Kalalau Trail is one of the most challenging hikes in Hawaii. It’s even been named one of the most dangerous trails in the United States. Areas of the trail slide away after storms, people fall from the trails, and flash floods are common.
The Kalalau trail begins at Ke’e Beach and goes two miles through the forest along the cliffs, all the way to Hanakapi’ai Beach. Before reaching Hanakapi’ai Beach, you’ll have to cross the river. During or after heavy rains, crossing the river is not recommended. But then again, hiking the Kalalau trail isn’t recommended during or after heavy rains in general.
Stop 1: Hanakapi’ai Beach
Hanakapi’ai Beach is beautiful, with thick, golden-sand surrounded by deep blue waters. Across this stunning beach, you’ll find plenty of space to enjoy a picnic or sunbathe on a towel. At the end of the beach, you’ll find sea caves to explore.
Right before you reach the beach, there’s a warning sign about unseen currents at Hanakapi’ai Beach. Crosscurrents, rip tides, and unpredictable waters have led to several deaths for those who do not heed the warning. In addition to the sign, there’s a warning with tally marks of how many visitors have been killed there. Moral of the story: Be careful and don’t go into the water.
After hanging out for a bit, most people turn back at Hanakapi’ai Beach and make their way to Ke’e where they can swim. Camping is not allowed here.
Stop 2: Hanakapi’ai Valley
About two miles beyond Hanakapi’ai Beach lies the stunning Hanakapi’ai Valley. Hanakapi’ai Valley is home to gorgeous waterfalls that stretch over a hundred feet tall. Some have said these waterfalls seem to fall out of the sky. Beneath the waterfalls is a beautiful, emerald green lagoon with frigid water.
Hanakapi’ai Valley is a rewarding location to visit and enjoy a picnic. That being said, hiking all the way to the waterfalls and back to Ke’e Beach is about an eight-mile round trip across challenging terrain, so plan ahead for your Hawaii trip and start your voyage early in the morning.
Stop 3: Hanakoa Valley
If you secure a camping permit, you can continue further down the trail from Hanakapi’ai Valley all the way to Hanakoa. Camping permits must be purchased in advance and a limited amount of people are allowed permits. You must make your hiking and camping arrangements well ahead of time. Get your camping permit at ehawaii.gov.
After the Hanakapi’ai Falls, you have to climb a tall trail out of the valley. Once out of the valley, you’ll cross a verdant natural area reserve and make your way to Hanakoa Valley. There, you’ll find a comfortable rest area. It takes several hours to make it here and you should probably look for a place to camp beyond this point.
Stop 4: Kalalau Beach
After about five miles of hiking, you’ll finally reach Kalalau Beach. This area, while very scenic with panoramic views, is incredibly sunny so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Additionally, camping is only allowed for a maximum of five nights in this area and camping permits are required.
Kauai Sea Tours
Want more ways to experience Kauai and the Napali Coast? Kauai Sea Tours has been providing award-winning tours since 1991, with a history of ten consecutive TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards. With a team that’s passionate about creating incredible adventures in paradise, we’re excited to explore the Napali Coast with you. Give us a call at 1-808-335-5309 to schedule your