The Na Pali Coast is a remote stretch of magical coastland along the western side of Kauai. Much of this area is unreachable due to the sheer cliffs that cascade into the Pacific Ocean below. There aren’t any roads here so to experience the majesty of the Na Pali Coast one must hike in on foot or cruise in via boat. Great views of the Na Pali Coast can be had from Ke’e Beach on the north, the top of Waimea Canyon or Polihale State beach on the south. There are also small planes and helicopters that provide aerial tours of the coastline. Experienced hikers and campers can explore the area thanks to the Kalalau Trail that begins at Ke’e Beach. Visitors to the area won’t be disappointed if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this breathtaking scenery.
Polihale state beach is literally at the western end of the island. It’s literally the end of the road, out past the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This beach is extremely remote and difficult to reach. Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended but not required for the drive out to the beach as the last six miles is a rough, unpaved, potholed dirt road that is sometimes closed. Unfortunately, the day we ventured out the road was indeed closed so we didn’t get out to the beach. I have heard that the views are spectacular but the water is rough and not fit for swimming, except for Queen’s Pond. Camping and fishing are allowed.
To get here take Highway 50 past Kekaha. Turn on Kekaha Road then a right turn onto Old Mana Road. Continue approximately 13 miles.
Go to Kipu Falls - a freshwater Waterfall on "private" land at the end of Kipu Road. Even though it's private land, both locals and tourists visit.
On one side of the pond there is a 25 ft cliff with a rope swing that you can jump from. (It's in the Blue Kauai guidebook that everyone has...Kauai Revealed. If you swing, make sure to RELEASE on time - I had a slow release and hit the water flat on my back. I had bruises for 10 days!
Also, wear water shoes - hiking in and out is slippery and very WET.
If you take a drive along the north coast past Hanalei, you will see the Maniniholo Dry Cve, across the street from the Haena Beach State Park. The cave cuts several hundred yards into the base of a vertical cliff. The high roof at the entrance of the cvern gets progressively lowe as you want to the rear of the cave. There are spooky recesses and rooms off the main passageway which were too dark for us to explore without artificial light, which we didn't have. It is said that those who go back far enough will find a small gap which opens to the top of the cliff at the very back of the cave.
According to Hawaiian legend Maniniholo was the cheif fisherman for the Menehune, (fabled Leprechan-like folk who inhabited the island in prehistoric times. Maniniholo and other Menehune dug the cave in a vain effort to unearth an evil supernatural being called "akua," who had been stealing their fish. The Menehune never found the creature, and neither did we. But I may have seen his beady red eyes faintly glowing from a dark recess in the rock. GRIN!
This has to be the most amazing thing I've done while on the islands! You get to fly as high as a bird with a view unhindered by windows. You will feel the rush of air on your face with a view limited only by how far you can turn your head. And, every which way you turn, you are greeted with a view that will leave you panting in anticipation for the next.
It is simply exhilarating!
To see my video slide show of this flight all set to classical music, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQMqJgYA7zs.
We flew with Ultralight Adventures Kaua‘i (http://www.kauaiultralight.com).
We originally booked a 1-hour flight with them. Then, on the day of our flights, we were talked into a 90-minute flight that offered a more dramatic excursion into Kalalau Valley (FYI: The $270.00, 90-minute flight is not listed on their website). It was worth every extra penny!
Our flight path went from Port Allen Airport, over Waimea town, up over Waimea Canyon, down into Kalalau Valley, along Nâ Pali Coast, down close to Kalalau and Honopu Beaches, then down along the Polihale, buzzed 20 feet above the deck of Barking Sands Beach, and then skirted the southwestern coast back to the airport.
For some, these flights may prove to be too expensive. But, if you are considering a helicopter flight AND want to get some nice photos AND can afford it, you may want to consider the few extra dollars for this experience instead.
While a helicopter tour is a great experience (I flew with Air Kaua‘i), you are still behind the windows and unable to get real clear views because of glare from the cockpit interior.
I took over 100 photos and several video clips just on this ultralight flight. The few photos I can post here do not do it justice. Therefore, I have posted all the photos that made the cut right here http://bluecollar.myphotoalbum.com/.
Moloa'a Bay, was the location for the pilot episode of Gilligan's Island.
For anyone who's early years were spent watching this sitcom, you might just find it of interest.
It's also a very nice beach, located between Kilauea and Anahola, down Koolau Road, it's easy to miss the tiny street sign if your not careful.
(Tip from: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook) It's a wonderful beach on calm days. The right (southeast) side is much nicer than the northwest side. Very pretty beach, but not a great swimming beach when seas aren't calm. It's off the main highway and not as well known as other beaches. Take the first (southeastern) Ko'olau Road (before the 17 mile marker) to Moloa'a Road.
The public access is near the end of Moloa'a Road. Parking is very limited. Park where there are no NO PARKING signs to dissuade you. You might have to walk a ways to the beach, but it's worth it. To get to the southeast side, you'll have to walk 100 yards along the beach. There you'll find the wading, swimming and boogie boarding the best, and shade is plentiful. Some residents lost access to their nearby houses when the tiny bridge to their neighborhood collapsed in the late '90s. Rather than make them wait years while county agencies squabbled over jurisdiction, the military base on the west side sent a dozen Navy Seabees to build them a new one in one day using donated materials.
We're just driving along trying to get to the north shore to Tunnel's beach and we see this sign that read's "Hawaiian Hardwoods". My boyfriend, who is driving, makes a quick u-turn and we look down this dirt road. He wants to know what the Hawaiian Hardwoods are all about. We drive slowly and carefully down the dirt road, passing one house after another until we get to the last house (and there are additional arrow signs pointing the way). We park the car and knock on the screen door. No one is there. We enter the house structure and to our amazement, there are all kinds of wood items on display like a store. Wood boxes, sculptures, bowls, etc. Sign says, if you want to buy anything, put your money in an envelope and put it in the box. The box was a cardboard box. My boyfriend ended up buying a custom coffee table from this place (the owner showed up while we were there).
It is vast. It is an amazing long beach the most western part of the island you could get to along the coast. Very deserted, it looks like a bit end of the world or something. To get there 4WD is recommended because the road becomes dirt road but it’s also fun to drive bumpy roads! It is an open sea so you need to be careful for a strong currency, but there is a swimming pool too so you can enjoy water there. don’t forget to bring something to shade from sun it is a big open space with no shade.
Please don't turn back towards the shore once you leave Waimea Canyon!!!! You'll miss one of the most amazing views of the Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali cliffs. If you continue on Hwy 550 past the canyon lookout and go as far as you can, you'll reach the Pu'u O Kila Lookout. The views from here are breathtaking.
Kalaulau Beach and Valley can only be reached by foot from the Kalalau Trail or by privately chartered boat (which, as you may guess can cost you your first born). So for those of us who don't feel like hiking for a week, or don't want to give up our first born, this may be the only way you can see such an awesome sight. You could also take a helicopter tour or a boat tour, but this is the way to go if you are on a budget.
When you go, be sure to go all the way to the end of the road--which is about 19 miles from the start of Hwy 550. Don't stop at the Kalalau Valley Lookout as the views are not quite as spectacular.
Polihale Beach is remarkable! It is often overlooked, but is one of the most spectacular beaches I've ever seen. There are so many different shades of blue in the water, then there's the start of the Na Pali cliffs and the huge sand dunes, and the whale watching is great--depending upon the season. We saw 3 whales while sitting on the beach in early February.
This is a good beach for expert surfers and for strolling. Swimming is certainly not recommended for there is an extremely strong undertow, nor is surfing for the novice.
The drive here can be treacherous and is recommended for 4 wheel drive vehicles only. We were on a motorcyle, so we didn't have some of the same obstacles that you would have with a car. Don't come here if it's been raining on the West Shore--you certainly will get the car stuck.
Camping is allowed here and you must get a permit from the Division of State Parks (808-274-3444), and is $5.00 per group per night. You should try to get the permit well in advance. There are shower and restroom facilities, though they are not well maintained.
If you're interested in tropical plants and -- especially -- native Hawaiian plants, then a visit to the National Tropical Botanical Garden is a must. But, even if your interest doesn't run too high into botany, a visit to the Gardens is worth the price because of the excellent docent, who gives you a fine dose of regional history and Kauai film-making sea stories along withthe plants.
The centerpiece of the Garden is the Lawai Valley property, owned by the rich Chicago industrialist Robert Allerton and his adopted son, John (it is widely speculated that Robert adopted John because they were gave lovers and adoption provided an aura of acceptibility in the 1950's -- to me, the history was more interesting than the plants). THe grounds of the estate are beautiful and the setting is perfect. No wonder the Allertons were able to host luminaries like Jackie Kennedy and Richard Nixon at their parties. No wonder Steven Speilberg used the etate to film some of Jurassic Park. And, oh yeah, there are plenty of intersting plants here.
Just about everyone who goes to Kaua`i manages to drive up "mauka" to see Wailua Falls. It's one of the easiest waterfalls on the island to see, albeit you only get to experience its beauty from a distance.
So why is this tip in the "Off the Beaten Path" section? Because an adventure awaits at this spot.
If you've read the "Revealed" guidebook, you'll know that there is more to see and do here than just gaze at a beautiful waterfall from behind a fence.
In October 2006, I did the hike down to the bottom of the falls mentioned in the book. Just look at all my photos. It was easy! BUT, the tough part is coming back up. The elevation change is dramatic. Get ready to huff and puff.
Here's my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC0Kg9UxUC8
It was worth it, though.
On my way down, I ran into a couple who was returning from a failed attempt. They made it to the "wall" and thought they had to cross the river but could not find a way.
The "wall" is a section of the embankment that is almost verticle and a little intimidating. But if you fall, it's no major deal because you are at water level (Just make sure you do NOT have your camera inhand if you do).
Look at the "wall" and find the worn areas on the rocks. Find the tree roots hanging from the wall and be sure to test them before putting all your weight on them. It will become apparent how to traverse this area to make the entire trip feet-dry WITHOUT crossing the river. I did.
Warning: If you go down here during flash-flood advisories, you are risking your life. While I was down there, the debris line from previous floods was very high and would make a trip down here very troublesome. Be cautious.
The odd thing about me putting this tip in this category is that THIS IS a beaten path! :) It’s just one that leads you away from all the other beaten paths on the island.
The Kalalau Trail runs most of the length of Nâ Pali Coast on the rugged north shore of Kaua‘i. Starting at Ke‘e (kay-ay) Beach and terminating at Kalalau Beach, it is eleven miles of hiking along one of the most beautiful coastlines.
Some precautions: This area is remote and can be dangerous. You’ll encounter narrow rocky trails with steep drop-offs. If it rains, runoff flows on and across the trail (see video linked below) and can be strong. Bring a poncho in case it rains. Cell phones do not work out here and help is always a long hike back to Ke‘e. So be very careful. Bring a couple liters of water per person and some high-energy snacks. Wear a good sunscreen, maybe a hat, and an easy-going attitude.
Although it is not required to hike too far on the trail to get some awesome views, most people simply choose the two-mile hike to Hanakapi‘ai (hah-nah-kah-pee-eye) Beach. If you're really in for a long day-hike, from that beach you can venture inland for another two miles to Hanakapi‘ai Falls. I've never done it, but they say it's really nice.
I have put together my pictures and video of the three hikes we have made along this trail. You may view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOlWDfPLVQs .
If you would like to hike beyond Hanakapi‘ai Beach, the trail continues along the coast for about another 9 miles to Kalalau Beach. However, to go further, the state requires you to obtain a camping permit.
I have another video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQMqJgYA7zs ) of my ultralight flight over Nā Pali. It has some good shots of this entire coast. It gives you a better idea of the ground on which you are walking
Whichever way you choose to see Nâ Pali, you cannot lose. Just be sure to experience it!
** DO NOT MISS **
Getting there is unnerving, daunting and sometimes you wonder where you're headed but upon arriving you will be heavily rewarded!
This beach is very secluded. You have to drive through a sugarcane field marred with potholes and often times you will wonder why you embarked on the drive at all. All your efforts will pay off in the end!
The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile roundtrip hike on Kauai. We wimped out and only hiked 4 miles to Hanakapiai Beach. It was a bit scary, with narrow paths, drop offs, and wet ground. The views were incredible and well worth it. Make sure you take lots of water!!
2373 Ho'ohu Rd, Poipu, Hawaii, 96756, United States
Good for: Business
7083 Alamihi Rd., Hanalei, Hawaii, 96714, United States
Good for: Business
It was a great place, good location. However, Kauai Coast Resort business practice is desired to be...more