On the oldest island in Hawaii, you’ll find the picturesque, rugged Napali Coast. The Napali Coast stretches approximately 16 miles across the northwest side of Kauai. Napali means “the cliffs” in Hawaiian, making the Napali Coast the Cliff Coast, or the coast of many cliffs. And you’ll see why it’s called that when you’re staring up at the majesty of these cliffs that seem to cut into the sky.
These massive cliffs protrude from the northern side of Kauai starting at Ke’e Beach and stretch all the way to the western shores of Polihale State Park. Across the Napali Coast, you’ll find breathtaking valleys and cliffs, sea caves, and waterfalls.
You can visit the iconic Napali Coast by land, water, or air. Here are our top six favorite ways to experience the beauty of the Napali:
Rafting & Kayaking
Many years ago, self-sustaining communities with thousands of native Hawaiians lived within the valleys on the Napali Coast. They hunted, fished, and traveled between the communities via canoe on the inland waterways.
For an experience similar to the original Hawaiians, kayaking and rafting the Napali Coast is a great way to spend an afternoon. Athletic, adventurous explorers are able to kayak around the Napali Coast, starting in Ha’ena and ending in Polihale. Imagine riding a raft in and out of the sea caves and looking up at the towering cliffs. Some of the peaks even reach 4,000 feet above sea level. Book your rafting adventure at kauaiseatours.com.
Listen to stories about Kauai’s history and legends when you cruise the beautiful Napali Coast via catamaran. Catamarans are one of the most relaxing and fun ways to cruise around Hawaii’s shores. Excellent for guided tours, catamaran cruises often information about the area’s geography and history that you wouldn’t learn without hours of research. Plus, some catamaran cruises even include an authentic Hawaiian dinner. Book your adventure starting as low as $135 at kauaiseatours.com.
Much of the Napali Coast is covered in difficult terrain, tall trees, and large drops into the valleys without many roads. There are roads that will take you close to the Napali Coast but none that brings you directly to it. You can’t drive along the Napali Coast either. However, you can drive to excellent nearby viewing areas at Ke’e Beach or Polihale Beach.
You can also drive past Waimea Canyon and stop by Kalalau Lookout or Pu’u o Kila overlook for a breathtaking view at the deep valleys.
Hiking the Napali Coast
While you can’t drive the Napali Coast, you can hike the Napali Coast and get an up-close view of the stunning cliffs and sapphire blue ocean. The most popular way to traverse the Napali Coast is by the 11 mile Kalalau Trail. The Kalalau Trail takes you through the forests and valleys, across streams and rivers, through nature reserves, and to paradisic waterfalls. However, this trail is one of the most challenging hiking trails in Hawaii. It’s even been ranked as one of the most challenging hikes in the United States.
Another option is to hike a small portion of the Kalalau trail to Hanakapi’ai Beach. This 4-mile round trip hike is still challenging, but not nearly as time-consuming. Hanakapi’ai Beach is a picturesque beach, with golden white sands, deep blue waters, and even sea caves along the edge of the beach. However, you must be careful not to go into the water. Unpredictable waters, currents, and tides have swept many people away to their death.
Camp the Napali Coast
While camping is allowed on the Napali Coast, you must procure a permit first and face difficult terrain to reach the camping areas.
Book a helicopter tour of the Napali Coast for a birds-eye view of the area’s beautiful valleys, cliffs, and forests. Several helicopter tour companies offer affordable and luxury-level tours with views of Waimea Canyon, Makaha Ridge, and across the north shore.
Kauai Sea Tours
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 1-808-355-5309 to schedule your tour today!