A stunning coastal range on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the Napali Coast stretches out for fifteen miles, and offers up some of the best views in all of the state. Located on the island’s North Shore, this traffic-free stretch of land is not the easiest to access, which only makes it even more of a Hawaiian hidden gem.
There is only one way to access the Napali Coast by land, and this is by taking the 11 mile long Kalalau Trail. The trail begins at Kee Beach and crosses five different valleys before ending up at Kalalau Beach on the Napali Coast. As beautiful as the journey may be, this is known for being one of the most challenging hikes on the island, with several narrow sections, as well as muddy topsoil that makes it difficult to establish a firm grip on the ground. The hike takes a full day one way, which is why many hikers choose to break their journey up and camp at Hanakoa Beach, turning the trip into a three day adventure. In addition to being an experienced hiker, you need to also ensure that you are able to deal with heights before attempting this trail, as you will find many sections that travel along the edge of ultra steep cliffs, which, while offering panoramic views, will definitely make your stomach turn if you are afraid of big drops.
If you would like to explore the Napali Coast without hiking, then a boat tour is your best option, as there are multiple types to choose from. These will all usually set off from Port Allen on the west coast of the island, and, whether you opt for a sea kayak, a rigid hull inflatable, or a luxury sailing catamaran, the views that you will see make the trip well worthwhile. In addition to exploring the coast, a boat tour will also take you to see the many sea caves, waterfalls, and other natural features that the area boasts, meaning that even if you have already hiked to the coast before, a boat tour is still worth taking.
The landscape surrounding the Napali Coast is even more impressive when viewed from above, which is why helicopter tours are extremely popular on Kauai. These tours fly through some of the island’s most inaccessible areas, and, in addition to taking in all of the hidden valleys around the Napali Coast, you will also be able to see many other natural landmarks, including the famous Waimea Canyon.
Even if you cannot drive to the Napali Coast itself, there are still multiple spots where you can drive to and enjoy spectacular views of the coast. Polihale Beach and Kee Beach offer gorgeous views down to the coast, while the Kalalau Overlook and the Pu’u O Kila both overlook the extraordinarily beautiful Kalalau Valley.
With dramatic cliffs, golden beaches and historic archaeological sites, the Napali Coast is always a joy to explore. Whether this is your first time visiting Kauai, or you are returning to the coast after previous visits, this is a part of Hawaii that will never fail to inspire and captivate you.