Hiking the Nā Pali Coast is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world! There are many wonderful reasons to visit Kauai, but hiking the Nā Pali Coast is at the top of the list. With emerald green jungles plunging down into aqua marine waters, it is truly a majestic sight. Ready to learn about the two most popular hikes along the Nā Pali coast? Let’s go!
A Guide to Hiking the Nā Pali Coast
About the Nā Pali Coast and the Kalalau Trail
The Nā Pali Coast is Kauai’s stunning coastline located on the Northwest side of the island. It remains surprisingly intact, but purely due to its remote location. The only way to access it by land is by hiking the Kalalau Trail. The only other ways to view the Nā Pali Coast is either by kayak tours, boat tours, or air tours.
The Kalalau Trail is a strenuous 11-mile hike, one way. It begins at Ke’e Beach and leads deep into the Kalalau Valley and along the Nā Pali Coast. The Kalalau Trail is a difficult hike, but also extremely rewarding. It requires multiple days to complete, and a camping permit from the Hawaii State Park.
The Nā Pali Coast’s Most Popular Day Hikes
Although the full hike of the Kalalau Trail is 11 miles, most people only hike pieces of the trail. The first few miles of the Kalalau Trail is what’s most commonly hiked of the Nā Pali Coast.
There are two popular day hikes to choose from:
- Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach
- Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Falls
1. Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach (4 miles roundtrip)
The hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach is a fairly easy 4-mile round trip hike, two miles out and two miles back. This hike hugs the rugged Nā Pali coastline and is a well laid out path. There are even stairs in the beginning of the hike.
Towards the end of the hike the path opens up to a lush river valley. From there it is a short walk to Hanakapi’ai Beach.
Note: Hanakapi’ai Beach can be dangerous depending on ocean conditions, so proceed with caution as there are no lifeguards.
2. Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Falls (8 miles roundtrip)
The hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls is an extension of the first hike. After hiking the first 2 miles out to the river valley, you will then hike another 2 miles into the Hanakapi’ai Valley to a remote waterfall. Since you are hiking into the center of the island, you won’t have those gorgeous coastline views. But the waterfall at the end is a massive 300-feet tall, and definitely worthy of the 8-mile hike. 🙂
The two miles to the waterfall is more difficult, mostly because it can be muddy and slippery. The path is not as clearly laid out, and you have to walk through river streams. It’s important to be extra careful during this hike. During my trip a fellow hiker fell and injured her leg, and then had to be rescued by helicopter.
What to Bring
- Proper Footwear
- Light rain jacket – depending on weather conditions
- Camera (it’s freaking gorgeous!)
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