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Photographing the Napali Coast

Na Pali Coast: A Land of Rugged Beauty

If you’re into adventure, consider photographing the stunning Na Pali Coast on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. The rugged mountains, etched by the incessant hammering of the Pacific Ocean, can be accessed by air, sea, or by foot from the challenging Kalalau Trail at Ke’e Beach, where the road ends.

Kauai is the most unspoiled of the four main Hawaiian Island destinations and it has often been featured in Hollywood films.

Nature photographers can enjoy shooting the Hawaiian sand and surf, rugged mountainous coastline and dazzling sunsets.

Planning Your Trip

Enjoy planning an adventurous getaway to this pristine island about 2,400 miles from the mainland. Reduced airfares have made visiting the islands more affordable, especially for campers. Fly directly onto the island from the mainland, or catch a ferry from Honolulu or Maui.

Those who would consider hiking the 11-mile Kalalau Trail should know parts of it are considered treacherous and there are drop-offs to the ocean below. A hiking permit is required beyond the initial two miles.

There are places to camp along the way, but a camping permit is required. Swimming is not recommended at Hanakapi’ai Beach because of frequent drownings.

The trail is not a trip for children or those with physical limitations. Frankly, I considered this, but the accounts I read dissuaded me. It appeared too risky for a middle-ager who exercises only moderately.

Great photos can be taken from rafts and catamarans traversing the coast, or from helicopter or plane rides above the cliffs. These should be booked in advance of arrival, along with sleeping accommodations.

When to Go, What to Bring

For land excursions, avoid rainy season from November to March when there is more likelihood of rock falls, flash floods and mud… In the wintertime, high surf also makes traversing the seas more difficult.

Hikers need boots, water and snacks.

Your photo gear needs will vary depending on how you expect to photograph the coast, but generally plan to travel light and versatile. A high-power zoom lens offers the versatility you may want on land or sea. You can pack a telephoto and wide angle lenses for aerial photography, plus your favorite lenses and filters.

Underwater cameras or water-tight gear would help you get the most of raft or catamaran excursions, which may include a beach landing.

A tripod would be useful probably only from a cruise ship.

Most of all be sure to look from up behind the lens to take in the wonderful views that abound on this spectacular Kauai coastline. The Napali Coast is really one of the most beautiful locations in the Hawaiian Islands, and for that matter the world. For more information on the history of the Napali Coast click here. If you would like to book a tour on one of Kauai Sea Tours many Napali Coast boating tours please explore the tours below: