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A Golden Sunset Over Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii, USA
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Hawaiian island: Kauai's Na Pali Coast
Kauai Travel & Leisure
Hawaiian island: Kauai's Na Pali Coast   by Terry Reim
Kauai Vacation Rentals

Kauai's spectacular Na Pali Coast, the rugged coastline on the northwest shore of Hawaii's oldest inhabited island, is probably the most remarkable and popular feature for visitors to the Garden Isle. The Na Pali Coast extends from Ke'e Beach and runs 16 miles southwest to Polihale State Park. Much of the coast is inaccessible due to its sheer cliffs up to 4,000 feet high, which plunge directly into the Pacific Ocean below. These pali, or cliffs, provide a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. 

Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms where the original Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro. There are no roads in or along the Na Pali Coast, but it is accessible by hiking, boating, kayaking or from a helicopter. Hiking and boating are the best ways to experience these majestic cliffs, vibrant blue water, sea caves, waterfalls and other natural wonders. Na Pali Coast State Park, encompassing 6,175 acres and located in the center of the rugged coastline, was established to protect the Kalalau Valley. 
Kalau Valley 

This valley, surrounded by verdant cliffs more than 2000 feet high, is famous for its tropical beauty. The broad, flat valley floor is about 2 miles long and a half mile wide allowing abundant sun and rain for a profusion of topical plants and animals. Native Hawaiians occupied the valley from prehistoric times into the 20th century, farming a large complex of terraced taro fields. Today, its designation as a state park prohibits residents, but a few long-term campers establish illegal shelters and remain in conflict with state authorities. 

The Kalalau Trail

The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. Originally built in the late 1800s, portions of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930s. A similar foot trail linked earlier Hawaiian settlements along the coastline. The trail traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer, fluted pali. The 11-mile trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi'ai and Kalalau. 

Kona State Beach, Island of Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii, USA
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Hiking the Na Pali Coast The most popular hike on Na Pali is to Hanakapi'ai where hikers will find a lush river valley. Hike 8 miles (roundtrip) to a waterfall or 4 miles (roundtrip) to Hanakapi'ai Beach (the beach is only there during summer months - be careful as ocean conditions can be dangerous and there are no lifeguards). For most backpackers in good condition hiking the 11 miles takes a full day. It's best to get an early start to avoid overexertion in the midday heat. 

Camping in Na Pali Coast State Park

Because the Na Pali Coast is within the Hawaii State Park system, permits are required for hiking and camping. Day-use hiking permits are required when continuing beyond Hanakapi'ai Valley, even if overnight camping is not planned. Camping permits allow camping in authorized areas along the trail. These areas are located on shaded terraces near streams. The do not have tables or drinking water. Composting toilets are available at Hanakapi'ai, Hanakoa, and Kalalau. Find more information about obtaining permits at the Lihue State Park Office (808) 274-3444, the Honolulu State Park Office (808) 587-0300 or visit the DLNR website. 

Na Pali Coast Boat & Air Tours Boat and air tours offer the most dramatic views of this spectacular coastline and it's 4,000-foot sheer cliffs Dolphins, turtles, flying fish and monk seals are seen year round with Humpback Whale watching from December through April. Sea caves and marine life are added attractions. Nualolo Kai, a fringing reef that extends 600 feet offshore, is home to more than 50 species of fish where Na Pali tour boats offer wonderful snorkeling excursions. While the water on this coast can be rough in winter months, boat tour companies also offer romantic sunset cocktail and dinner cruises along the Na Pali coast during the summer months.

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About the Author - Terry Reim has more than 25 years' experience as an editor and writer in newspaper, magazine, trade book, textbook, and technical publishing. He lives in Maui, Hawaii.
Kauai Travel & Leisure

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Kauai (properly spelled Kaua'i) is the northern-most of the Hawaiian Islands and is where all the beauty of Hawaiian Paradise is found. The island of Kauai is one of the most lush and beautiful Hawaiian islands, encompassing cascading waterfalls, roaring cliffs, surf, lush valleys and sun-drenched beaches. Dramatic is the best way to describe Kauai. It is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and with its rich volcanic soil and plentiful rainfall, it was a natural for Taro plant farms. The tubers of the Taro plant are pounded into Poi and were a staple of the Hawaiian diet.

Kauai is beautiful year-round so anytime is a good time to visit. Summer temperatures between April and November, average 75-85 degrees and is also the dryer season. Winter temperatures are a little cooler and you will always have the trade winds throughout the year.

Kauai Airport

Lihue Airport (LIH) is the island's main airport. Some airlines offer direct service from the continental US to Kauai.

Precipitation & Scenery

Kauai's northern end is the wet side and the wettest part of all Hawaii. The island receives so much rainfall, it is known as one of the wettest places on earth with an average rainfall of 460 inches of precipitation per year. The island has beautiful valleys, lush rainforests, jagged cliffs and towering waterfalls. With it's beautiful green valleys and scenic waterfalls, it has been the location of over 70 Hollywood movies and TV series, including Raiders of The Lost Ark, Lilo & Stitch, Jurassic Park, King Kong, and the current TV series Lost.

Rice Fields, Hanalei Valley, Kauai, Hawaii, USA
Rice Fields, Hanalei Valley, Kauai, Hawaii, USA
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Kauai Vacation Activities

The island's visitors can take a helicopter adventure and soar over and through the lush green canyons and hover alongside magnificent waterfalls, taking in views and an experience they'll never forget. Travelers can also enjoy golfing at Princeville or hiking the Napali Coast, which are all-time favorites of vacationers.

The meandering Wailua River abounds with scenic views of rich foliage. Take the river cruise or rent kayaks and explore the island on your own. Consider joining your guide on a hike into the fern grotto where you will be serenaded amidst luscious flora and fauna. Weddings are one of Kauai's specialties. Here, you'll find professional, experienced wedding coordinators to help you create your own customized, romantic island ceremony and celebration.

The southern end of Kauai gets more sun and offers many crescent-shaped beaches. You will soon see why the Travel Channel voted Poipu Beach one of America's best beaches. This popular area is where surfing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and golf are the pastimes of vacationers. Nightlife is slow and quiet here, but you won't miss it, as this is where you will rejuvenate and unwind in the beauty and tranquility of Kauai. About a 30-minute drive from Poipu, you'll find the famous Waimea Canyon. Linger to stare in awe of its 10-mile long and mile-wide magnificence.

Kauai Vacation Rentals

When planning your Kauai vacation, there are many Kauai hotels to choose from; however, many travelers prefer to stay in a privately owned vacation rental home or condo for both comfort and cost-efficiency. A vacation rental provides comforts rarely offered by most hotels, such as a fully stocked kitchen for home cooking, multiple bedrooms, and many even have their own private swimming pool and Jacuzzi, which is tough to put a price on. So, before booking a hotel, shop around for the perfect Kauai vacation rental that can accommodate your entire family. You just might find the ideal beachfront vacation rental your family has been dreaming about.

Kauai Vacation Rentals

Don Guy is an avid traveler and co-founder of, which is a vacation rental directory offering vacation rentals and vacation homes for sale. When planning a Kauai vacation, consider searching for the perfect vacation rental home, condo, or villa your entire family will enjoy.


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Aston Islander On The Beach, Kapaa
Located on a nearly deserted beach in Kapaa, Hawaii, Aston Islander on the Beach offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The marketplace, with complimentary parking, includes more than 60 restaurants and specialty shops. Opaekaa Falls, located 3.5 miles from the hotel, offers scenic views of the Makaleha Mountains and a restored Hawaiian village on the riverbank.  Accommodations are furnished with Hawaiian artwork, bronze statuette hula lamps and stone flooring. Amenities include flat-screen televisions. Stainless-steel refrigerators, microwave ovens, refrigerators and wet bars with granite countertops are available in each room.


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Castle Kiahuna Plantation & Beach Bungalows, Koloa
Once a sugar plantation manor house, this condominium resort occupies 35 acres adjacent to a lovely beach. Renowned Moir Gardens are part of this plantation, and National Tropical Botanical Gardens are less than 5 miles away.  Guests of this 35-acre resort enjoy plenty of space for rest and solitude. Guests who seek activity can play tennis, swim in the custom-designed pool next door, and enjoy a lagoon. A beach hut rents out boogie boards and snorkeling equipment and loans out complimentary beach chairs and towels. Condo units are housed in plantation-style buildings facing Poipu Beach. Units feature garden or ocean views and are accessible via exterior stairs (no elevators). 


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Castle At Princeville
Settled atop a 200-foot cliff on Kauai's northern coast, Castle at Princeville is adjacent to the fairways of the Makai Course in Princeville, Hawaii. Dense rainforests, impenetrable valleys, majestic peaks and perfect golden beaches make Kauai one of Hawaii's most desirable destinations. Dominated by a sense of independence, the island has never fallen victim to the tourist culture that afflicts Oahu and the Big Island. The sights, smells and sounds of the island promote relaxation, with shimmering waterfalls, the scent of ginger and plumeria, and the sound of morning birdsong pleasing the senses.
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