Kapaa, HI 96746
Napali Coast is a 16 mile (26 km) coastline stretching from the remote and wild Polihale Beach on the west to Kee Beach on the north shore of Kauai. It is one of the world’s most scenic coastlines of beautiful beaches, towering sea cliffs, and deep hanging valleys with waterfalls that merge into the sea. Shaped by long-term erosion, the coast was originally inhabited by Hawaiians and then attracted the attention of others from the west, prompting local authorities to enforce permits, camping access and restrictions to visitors.
What is there to do on the Napali Coast?
Hanakapiai Falls: A short 2-mile hike from Hanakapi’ai Beach brings you to the 300 feet high Hanakapiai Falls
Hike to Kalalau Valley: A physically challenging adventure worth your sweat and time. A camping permit is needed if you plan to hike beyond Hanakoa Valley.
Drive to beaches or canyons for coastline views: If you’re not up to the hike, drive to Kee Beach or Polihale Beach to catch stunning coastline vistas. You can also plan a drive past Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific, to arrive at the Kalalau Lookout, a scenic viewpoint offering sweeping views of the valley.
Explore the coast in a kayak or motorized vessel: Comfortable and convenient, tour boats allow you to pack into many adventures, including snorkeling and a glimpse of archeological sites, including rock carvings left by ancient dwellers. Kayaking into sea caves and emerging to soaring cliffs leaves you with a new appreciation for nature.
Aerial views of the coast: Enjoy breathtaking views of the Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon on a helicopter tour.
How long is the Napali Coast hike?
Originally built in the 1800s (with some parts rebuilt in the 1930s) the Kalalau Trail crosses five valleys and ends at Kalalau Beach. Hikers will see a lush landscape while traveling through the valleys, as well as tall cliffs aligning the ocean. You don’t have to cover even a mile from the Kalalau trailhead to find yourself surrounded by the glorious Napali coastline.
The Kalalau Trail is 11 miles long and takes about a day to traverse. The first couple of miles from Ha’ena State Park to Hanakapi’ai Beach are good day hike. However, completing the entire trail is recommended for experienced hikers.
Given the amount of time that the hike takes (all day, for just one way), you must have a camping permit (beyond Hanakapi’ai Valley), if you want to do the entire hike.
Kee to Hanakapiai is two miles, bringing you face to face with the awe-inspiring Hanakapiai waterfall.
The 4-mile hike from Hanakapiai to Hanakoa takes you through the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, which is home to diverse species of native lowland forest plants. A short distance away is the 500-foot high Hanakoa Falls.
Continuing to Kalalau, the hike becomes a little more difficult as you make your way down steep inclines at Red Hill and narrow trail at Pōhakuao. Cross Kalalau Stream to arrive at the beach and camp awhile. On the 2-mile Kalalau Valley Trail, you will see remains of lava rock terraces that ancient inhabitants built to cultivate the taro plant, the staple food of Hawaii.
Camping on the Napali Coast
The Hanakoa campsite located six miles from the trailhead is a resting place for weary hikers seeking a break or shelter against unfavorable weather. You can camp at Kalalau for a maximum of five nights. You also have the option to camp at Miloli’I – which is only accessible by ocean – for three-nights. Both require a camping permit. Booking your reservations in advance is recommended. Flooding can result in temporary closures, so check availability prior to planning your hike.
Kayaking the Napali Coast
The one-day kayaking tour from Ha’ena to Polihale Beach is popular. The 17-mile journey by sea starting on a kayak surrounded by cliffs, sea caves and waterfalls will see you paddle for 5-6 hours. If you know how to work a boat and have the endurance to paddle on deceptively calm waters that can prove problematic if the winds gather power and the waves grow bigger, you have nothing to worry about. The dark sea caves may momentarily scare you but they will get your adrenaline pumping as you paddle on, and find light again thanks to natural skylights in the cave ceilings.
Are there Napali Coast Tours?
Yes, there are! Guided tours do the planning for you, look after your safety and convenience, point you to the best sights, include water sports, arrange for breakfast and lunch, all at cheaper prices than if you were to organize a trip on your own.
Costs will vary depending on the type and duration of the tour. Helicopter tours cost more than snorkeling and rafting.
You can opt for shorter one hour or one to four-hour tours, half-day to full-day tours, 1-3 day tours or longer tours extending to more than three days. Join a group or book a private tour. Napali Coast tour options include:
– Cruise, sailing and water tours
– Shore excursions
– Helicopter and balloon tours
– Water sports
– Tours and sightseeing
– Outdoor activities
– Private, customized tours
– Luxury tours
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Napali Coast?
Reserve kayaking for summer when the seas are calm. The hiking season runs from May to October.
How do I get to the Napali Coast?
The Napali Coast State Park begins at Haena State Park at the end of Kuhio Highway. It’s 41 miles from Lihue Airport, a roughly 1 ½ hour drive. You can take a public bus to Hanalei and then a cab to Kalalau trailhead. However, this is recommended if you’re not carrying camping or hiking gear.
For overnight parking at Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, you first need to obtain a camping permit. You can reserve your parking spot in advance of 90 days from your date of visit, and you will be charged based on the number of days your car will remain in the lot.