Exploring Kauai – The Garden Isle


Kauai is the northernmost Hawaiian Island and is where all the beauty of Hawaiian Paradise can be. The island of Kauai is one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands, encompassing roaring cliffs, cascading waterfalls, great surf, lush valleys and sun-drenched sandy beaches. Breathtaking is the best way to describe Kauai. It is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and with its nutrient-rich volcanic soil and plentiful rainfall, it was a natural for Taro plant farms. Native Hawaiians pound the tubers of the Taro plant into Poi, which was a staple of the Hawaiian diet.

The weather in Kauai is beautiful all year so any time is a great time to visit. Temperatures from April to November average 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and it is also the dryer season. Winter temperatures are slightly cooler and you will always have the afternoon trade winds throughout the year.

Kauai Airport

Lihue Airport (LIH) is the island’s main airport. Some airlines offer direct flights from the continental US directly to the island of Kauai.

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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.

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 Wailua River abounds with spectacular views of lush green foliage. Rent kayaks and explore the island on your own or relax and take the leisurely river cruise. 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 area of Kauai receives more sunshine and offers many crescent 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. Pause to stare in awe of its mile-wide and ten-mile long magnificence.

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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.


Source by Don Guy

Wine and Dine in a Luxury Princeville Condo!


The North coast of breathtaking Kauai is also a gourmet’s dream come true. Come with us to some of the best-loved culinary experiences Kauai offers:

Postcards Cafe: is set in a charming plantation cottage in Hanelei near North Shore Kauai condos. Noted for its gourmet seafood and natural cuisine with the emphasis on fresh-mostly organic-ingredients and a deliciously creative menu, the restaurant has been praised in Travel & Leisure, In Style Magazine, and Brides Magazine, as well as in travel sections of the country’s top newspapers. The lanai has lovely mountain views, and the vintage dining room features whitewashed walls, beamed ceilings, and framed articles depicting bygone days on Kauai’s magical north shore. First taste: ‘Pupus” feature taro fritters with pineapple chutney; seafood rockets (a melange of fish, shrimp and coconut in a crispy shell); porcini crusted scallops; seared Cajun-crusted shi with chipolte chile sauce; crab quesadillas; vegan Thai summer rolls; organic Caesar or garden salads; and delectable soups and chowders. Entrees include grilled or blackened fresh fish; the Sombrero, a chile/com/black bean/tomato treat; the Shanghai, with sauteed tofu, crisp vegetables and roasted cashews in tamari sauce; the Seafood Sorrento, a divine seafood pasta with fish and shrimp, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, onions and capers in a garlic white wine sauce; The Francesca, a puttanesca pasta with a sherry marinara; and wasabi crusted ahi with a mirin shoyu ginger sauce. There are outsanding specials every evening, luscious desserts, and organic coffee, teas and juices. Open nightly from six o’clock. Reservations highly recommended.

Saffron Mediterranean Cuisine is located on the grounds of Pali Ke Kua, near the luxury Princeville condo resort area. It is the North Shore’s newest fine dining experience. Saffron was born from a vision by Chef-owner Joaquin Menendez and his passion to bring his world of authentic cuisine from the Mediterranean to Kauai. Joaquin, trained in Mexico City and the Ritz-Escoffier Masters Program in Paris, has divided his menu into three categories: Ia Espana, Ia Italia, and Ia Grecia. Tapas of Sautéed Mushrooms, Garlic Lime Prawns, Almond & Saffron Seared Ahi, or a Tortilla Espanola potato frittata lead to Ia Espana entrees of traditional Paella with seafood, chorizo, chicken and vegetables seasoned with saffron; Almond Crusted Ahi; or Slow Roasted Pork topped with cranberry blue cheese crumbles. Make your own crisp and tasty pizzetas from the oven, coupled with a romaine hearts Caesar Salad, are good Ia Italia beginnings for entrees of Pasta Primavera, Mushroom Ravioli, Penne Alfredo, or Ossobucco, a tender veal shank served with garlic polenta and fresh asparagus. There’s a very extensive international wine list featuring whites from Galicia and the Basque region of Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and California, available by the bottle or glass.

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CJ’s Steak & Seafood is conveniently located in the Princeville Shopping Center near the luxury Kauai condo area, CJ’s reputation is founded on generous servings of great food at reasonable prices. Their winning combination of CJ’s-Sized portions and mouth watering entrees keep visitors and locals coming back. The noted Salad Bar features selected Kauai grown vegetables and fruit, and all dinner entrees include hot rolls and your choice of rice pilaf or steamed white rice. “Come Hungry!” O ke kai (from the sea offerings) include fresh island Catch-of-the Day prepared broiled, baked, sauteed or Cajun, a super delicious CJ’s Shrimp Dinner done up Hanalei-style steamed in butter, white wine, lemon juice and herbs, a battered Macadamia Coconut version, or Teriyaki Style. And there’s a Lotta Lobster and Alaska’s finest cracked and steamed King Crab. O ka aina (from the land) features Prime Rib slowly roasted in herbs and spices to juicy perfection, mid-western corn-fed Angus Beef steaks, a terrific New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Teriyaki Chicken Breasts, and Danish Barbequed Baby Back Pork Ribs simmered in a delectable barbeque sauce. Ask about their daily dessert specials but go for the classic Mud Pie (everybody does!). Before or after your dining experience, enjoy yourself in the unique Tsunami Bar with its colorful and descriptive views of Hawaii’s many tsunami’s. Live Hawaiian music while dining every weekend.

Hanalei Gourment: While enjoying fun-in-sun pleasures on the North Sore, stop in at the Hanalei Gourmet for a lunch or dinner break. Located in the renovated Old Hanalei School House, you’ll experience a creative dining adventure in a warm, Aloha-friendly atmosphere. The Hanalei Gourmet is committed to the finest fresh local produce, dolphin-free tuna, low-sodium meats, and fresh-baked whole grain breads. Primo Pupus range from Shrimp “Old Bay” Boil of unpeeled shrimp in broth with melted garlic butter and cocktail sauce served with a French baguette to Sauteed Mussels with wine sauce. Gourmet dinners include a selection of Fresh Catch Crab Cakes, Scallops Meuniere, Mac Nut Fried Chicken, and fresh black pepper and garlic served with fresh cremini mushroom sauce. There’s a daily blackboard Pasta Du Jour and a fabulous Greek Pasta coupled with a salad of mixed greens and foccacia bread. House favorites hot from the grill are owner “Big Tim’s” Burger, and Hanalei Moa Sandwich pineapple aioli sauce on a fresh Kaiser roll with french fries and “The Works!” “Big Tim” and his crew also boast a full tropical bar and live music featuring various Kauai musicians. The Hanalei Gourmet will also pack a picnic backpack or cooler for a hike on the Na Pali coast, or paddle up a river.

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Polynesia Cafe: Polynesia Cafe quickly established itself as one of the most unique dining experiences on Kauai. When Polynesia Cafe first opened in Hanalei, it was a small outdoor style cafe determined to stick to a quality plan: fresh food prepared form scratch, priced affordably, and served with a large helping of Aloha. “We tell people we are not in the restaurant business,” says Thames Goodwin. “We are in the entertainment business and our job is to make you happy with great food and wonderful service. And, Polynesia Cafe got the job done with gourmet food and plastic utensils to the delight of its Hanalei patrons. Now, there is a second Polynesia Cafe location in Kapaa. Same great food as the original plus a lot more. It doesn’t get any better. Fresh, high quality gourmet food at sidewalk cafe prices. In Hanalei there is no alcohol service but you can bring your own and there is no corkage fee. However, in Kapaa, you can choose from a unique selection of signature beverages that will make your dining experience unforgettable. An outstanding entree item at Polynesia Cafe is their Shanghai Ahi, sashimi grade ahi, served and finished in an orange-ginger-pineapple glaze served with rice and fresh steamed vegetables. It is truly ono-licious at either location. Hanalei: Ching Young Shopping Village and Kapaa.


Source by Alice Lane

Princeville, Kauai


Located on the north shore of the island of Kauai, Princeville is a planned resort community and home to the world famus Princeville Resort. Princeville, in Kauai, Hawaii, lies between Kilauea and Haena along Highway 56 on the banks of the Hanalei River near Hanalei, Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, the Halelea Forest Reserve, and Kaweonui Point. The area was named in honor of an 1860 visit by Prince Albert Kamehameha (son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma).

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The Princeville, Kauai area is an outdoor vacationer’s paradise away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is one of the most magical Island and perfect vacation destinations on Earth. The place is a perfect blend of lush, green Sea Cliffs that tower over Kauai’s picturesque Hanalei Bay. Don’t miss i Pali Ke Kua Beach, also known as Hideaways. This is a gorgeous beach, that’s definitely worth the hike. Another exceptional spot you should visit is known as Queen’s Bath – it’s a natural pool on a lava shelf. There is so much to see and do at Princeville. You can go hiking, horseback riding, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, scan the horizon for whales, or just sit on one of the area’s gorgeous beaches and soak up some Hawaiian sunshine.

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Another close by popular destinations are Ke’e Beach and Na Pali Coast. If you like hiking, you just must go and enjoy the natural beauty of the majestic Na Pali Coast. Don’t forget to take your camera and photograph this natural beauty.


Source by Kani Amea

Free Things to Do on Kauai


If you’re into amazing scenery and fun outdoor activities, you can save bundles on your Kauai vacation, while having the time of your life. Here are some of my favorite places to see and things to do on Kauai, and they are all free!

Napali Coast – Hike the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail. This is a moderate hike, popular with families. This first section of the Na Pali Coast State Park’s trail takes you up about 700 feet (the vistas of the ocean and Ke’e reef is amazing) and then down to a secluded, white sand beach cove. The beach is beautiful but the currents and surf can be treacherous. Instead of taking a dip in the ocean here, stop at the stream just before the trail descends to the cove. There’s a nice little pool with small, rushing waterfalls. Cost: Free.

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See the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Mark Twain’s name for Kauai’s Waimea Canyon has stuck for over 100 years. You’ll understand if you go. The rocky canyon is rugged, 2,700 feet deep and is the color of a desert artist’s palette. This is a state park and free to hike, or you can just stop at the viewing point and enjoy from there. It’s usually hot and dry, and there’s a stream and waterfalls to refresh you. Cost: Free.

Stroll through the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Beautiful, well landscaped and maintained gardens with both native and introduced tropical species. Besides enjoying these national treasures, you can learn about Hawaiian history and culture, environmental stewardship and horticulture practices. There are three garden sites: two on Kauai’s sunny South Shore and one on the green and lush North Shore. Cost: Free. Donations accepted.

Visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. If you love lighthouses, you have lots of company. This is one of the most visited sites on Kauai, with more than half a million visitors flocking here each year to view the historical lighthouse, as well as the sea birds flying around the cliffs and in Hawaii’s winter (December through April), the whales below. Cost: Free.

Relax and play on beautiful Kauai’ beaches. Kauai has some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, and is encircled by an almost complete lei of white and golden sands. A popular family beach on the sunny South Shore is Poipu with its gentle surf (in front of the Sheraton). And a popular snorkeling beach on the North Shore, especially with beginning snorkelers, is Anini. (If you want to snorkel but don’t have gear, the Hawaii chain, Snorkel Bob’s, rents fins and mask for $9 per week.) Beach cost: Free. All Kauai beaches are free to the public and wherever property blocks access, there is a public trail a few feet away. You can also enter, for free, through the hotel grounds (and enjoy the resorts’ landscaping and art while you’re at it!).


Source by Cindy Blankenship

Kauai, The Garden Isle

Like the other Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is the top of an enormous volcanic mountain rising from the Pacific Ocean floor. It was formed by a single volcano about 5 million years ago, and is the oldest of the large Hawaiian Islands.

Kauai lies 33 miles northwest of Oahu across the rugged Kauai Channel, which helped protect the island from invaders, including Kamehameha I, who never managed to conquer it. Kauai’s King Kaumualii, facing continued threats of invasion, joined the Kingdom of Hawaii without bloodshed in 1810, ceding the island to the Kingdom upon his death.

At the island’s center is the wettest place on earth – 5,148-foot Mt. Waialeale, with an average rainfall exceeding 480 inches annually. This prolific precipitation creates the headwaters for Hawaii’s richest river system, the Waimea, Hanapepe, Wailua, and Hanalei. These rivers have created Kauai’s most striking geographic features, except for its world-renowned Na Pali Coast.

Waimea Town, once the capital of Kauai on the island’s southwest side, was the first place in Hawaii visited by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778. It’s located at the mouth of the Waimea River, whose flow helped form one of the most scenic canyons in the world, the 3000-foot-deep Waimea Canyo, often called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Waimea Canyon State Park encompasses 1,866 acres and is a popular tourist attraction offering a wilderness area with numerous hiking trails. Here, bicycle tours are a popular activity for Kauai visitors.

This canyon is protected at higher elevations as Kokee State Park.

Traveling east, counter-clockwise around the island, Hanapepe at the river’s mouth, is a vintage Hawaii village with wooden sidewalks. At nearby Port Allen, the small boat harbor is a departure point for sport fishing, scuba diving and excursions up the Na Pali Coast.

Poipu is the sunny jewel of the south side of Kauai, a vacation community of hotels, condominiums and shops built along white-sand beaches. Two miles inland, historic Koloa Town, is a charming 19th-century plantation town, home of Hawaii’s first successful sugar mill.

Lihue on the southeast coast is the county seat of Kauai, the site of Nauwiliwili Harbor, and Lihue Airport, departure point for sightseeing air tours. Here, the island’s two main highways meet – Kuhio heading north and Kaumualii heading south – so it’s impossible to go anywhere on Kauai without passing through Lihue. The Huleia River feeds the nearby Menehune Fishpond and is flanked upstream by the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge.

Wailua on the east side of the island is a coastal town at the mouth of the Wailua River, the only navigable river in the state. Wailua and nearby Kapaa are a center of activity for locals and visitors. Boat tours access 80-foot Wailua Falls which feeds into the river, and the Fern Grotto, a fern covered, lava rock natural amphitheater that enhances the acoustics of the live music, with traditional themes performed here. The area is managed by the state of Hawaii as Wailua River State Park.

Hanalei Bay on the north side of the island boasts two miles of tranquil beach against a backdrop of glorious green mountains. In the summer, the glassy bay offers excellent sailing, kayaking and swimming. The bay is also home to the famous Princeville Resort and the Hanalei Curl, a breaking wave known throughout the surfing community. A number of tour boats use Hanalei Bay as a launch point for excursions down the Na Pali Coast.

The Na Pali Coast on the island’s northwest side is Kauai’s most famous attraction and arguably the most spectacular, primitive coastline in the world. It extends from Ke’e Beach on the south and runs 16 miles to Polihale State Park on the north. Na Pali Coast State Park encompasses 6,175 acres of land located in the center of this rugged and spectacular coastline. Its Kalalau Trail is a don’t-miss trek for avid hikers. A wonderful variety of sunset cruises, sightseeing sails, and snorkeling tours are available, including one to the shores of Niihau.

Niihau, 17 miles west of Kauai, is the smallest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Also known as the “Forbidden Isle,” it has long been accessible only to relatives of the island’s owners, the Robinson family.


Source by Terry Reim

Camping in Kauai – State and Private Campgrounds

Kauai has four campgrounds located in its state parks. Two of these, both located in upland forest meadows are easily accessible by car, one, on a beach, is best reached by four-wheel, and the fourth is a backpacker’s campground at the end of the Na Pali’s 11-mile trail.

Koke`e State Park – Mosquito Free, Upland Camping on Kauai

Two campgrounds are found here in Koke`e State Park’s cool and misty uplands just a few miles from the desert dry Waimea Canyon. Many of the State Park’s numerous hiking trails begin near the campgrounds and meander through fragrant cedar and eucalyptus forests, under ancient koa and towering redwoods and past fragrant blossoms and succulent fruit.

It’s not what you might expect from a tropical vacation, but it is a very beautiful rainforest and for those interested in Hawaii’s flora and fauna very intriguing. The area is steeped in legend and also home to one of the island’s most magnificent vistas that opens up to the Na Pali. And an extra bonus – the mosquitos don’t care much for the coolness, so you will rarely see one, but you will see lots of colorful birds that also appreciate the mosquito free climes.

The temperature typically dips into the 40s at night up here at 3,600 feet, so bring or rent warm sleeping bags (or stay in one of the well heated cabins, cottages or YWCA hostel). The temperatures are quite pleasant in the daytime, and you will likely only want a lightweight rain jacket.

Koke`e State Park Campground

The State Park campground is situated in a long meadow bordered by tall evergreens. The Koke`e Natural History Museum and main office of the privately run Koke`e Lodge (with a restaurant/bar) also are right here. Like most of Hawaii’s State Park camp sites, it’s only $5 per tent site for the night. Camping permits can be booked up to a year in advance. If you’re not OK with getting up early though, this may not be the place for you – the resident roosters crow at dawn.

Camp Sloggett

The other campground in Koke`e State Park is Camp Sloggett, named after the family who donated this to the YWCA in 1938. This includes the tent sites (with showers and restrooms), a charming 1925 built lodge along with the bunkhouse (hostel) and beautiful grounds, all maintained by the Kauai YWCA. This is a fun place to stay – you’ll feel like your back at summer camp! There’s a historical fire pit with seats for 40 and lots of activities.

The campground’s rates are significantly higher than the Koke`e State Campground: $10 per person opposed to $5 per site, but this is a really fun and nice place for families, while the Koke`e State Park campground and private cabins mainly attract hunters and backpackers.

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

This is backcountry camping for experienced backpackers and hikers. It is set on the Na Pali’s stunning rugged coastline at the 11-mile turn around point for the Kalalau Trail. Camping fee: $10, and instead of per site as with the other two, it’s per person on the Na Pali.

Camping on the Beach at Kauai’s Polihale State Park

This Polihale State Park campground is located on a strikingly gorgeous white sand beach on the sun drenched west side of the island near where the Na Pali Coast ends. It is an extension of Barking Sands Beach and has huge sand dunes, as tall as 100 feet in places.

The downsides to this campground: you need to traverse about 5 miles on a pot hole ridden dirt road. Most don’t go here without 4-wheel drive.

The other downside is that this is not a safe swimming beach due to its treacherous currents. There is the possibility of swimming in Queen’s Bath, a rock lined pool on the south end, but Queen’s Bath is only safe when the surf is small or the ocean is calm. Otherwise it is very dangerous. And there’s no lifeguard at this beach.

On the upside: the setting is as mentioned awesome and you’ll have romantic sunsets, views of the Na Pali, shore fishing (when it’s calm), restrooms, picnic shelters, camping areas, outdoor showers and drinking water. Camp sites here are $5 per night.

Camping Kauai can be a really fun way to save money and meet locals and other visiting campers, if you enjoy camping. And if you do, there could be just the perfect campground for you on the Garden Isle.

Source by Cindy Blankenship

What to Do on Kauai, Hawaii

Are you planning a vacation to Kauai, Hawaii? Here’s my favorite things to do on Kauai to help you with your itinerary planning.

Na Pali Coast Boat Tour – Wow, the Na Pali Coast is phenomenal, and it’s one of your best chances in all of Hawaii to see dolphins come right up to your boat and try to bow-ride or frolic with you, in my opinion. This is a must-do, must see.

Used to be that the zodiac rafts were the best way to see the Na Pali coast (in my opinion) because they were fast and low to the water – you could touch the dolphins – they got that close. However, these days the zodiacs have to take the long way around the coast so you might be better off taking a catamaran that gets to leave right from the north shore. I like Na Pali Catamaran.

Waimea Canyon – The Waimea Canyon is really cool for a couple of reasons. 1. it looks 100% out of place. what is a canyon doing in Hawaii? 2. It’s so incredibly colorful that it’s is amazing to behold. Really a wonder of Hawaii.

Helicopter Tours – Kauai is pretty spectacular, and there are a few places you just can’t see without flying in to them. Some helicopter tour companies will drop you down next to humongous waterfalls (as seen in many movies)

Sunset Sail or Dolphin/Snorkel/Whale Sail – Definitely consider a boat tour. Head down to Poipu for a sunset sail for sure.

North Shore Beach Adventures – The North Shore offers a couple of hidden beaches, like Hidden Beach or Anini Beach. I always recommend the Kauai Revealed guidebook to help you find all of these and other hidden gems.

Source by Lisa Weber

Hawaiian Island – Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

Hawaiian Island – Kauai’s Na Pali Coast

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.

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.

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.

Source by Terry Reim

The Napali Coast on Kauai – By Trail, Sea Or Air


If you could do only one thing on Kauai, I would recommend you explore the Napali Coast (or by its proper name, the Na Pali State Park. I’ve lived in Hawaii for over 10 years and have spent months on the Garden Isle, and there’s a reason you see so much of the Napali Coast in Hawaii travel brochures.

Those majestic, sculpted, green, cliffs rise in places 1,000 feet above the sea, and literally hundreds of waterfalls fed by Mt. Waialeale (one of the wettest spots on the planet) pour down the steep cliffs into their valleys. At the foot of the Napali are pristine white sand beach coves, intriguing sea caves and beautiful sea arches. All this fronting Hawaii’s magnificent blue waters…

I’ve seen the Na Pali three different ways: from a four seater airplane (during an island tour), from a Zodiac raft and from the Kalalau Trail. Other popular ways to see the Na Pali include kayak, sailboat, catamaran and helicopter.

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Kolalau Trail

From the trail hundreds of feet above sea level, the views of the ocean, including the reefs at Ke’e are truly astounding. We hiked to the first beach and just before it stopped at a rushing stream to play under a small waterfall. There were little waterfalls along the way and lush forest. Unlike further down the trail, the first two-mile stretch that I routinely hiked was easy and felt safe (I’m afraid of heights). I often saw families hiking here. Depending on where you hike, you may see artifacts of the early Hawaiians here, such as parts of stone walls, terraces, hale (house) platforms, graves, taro patches and heiau (shrines or temples). The Na Pali is a sacred and mystical place.

Napali Airplane and Helicopter Tours

When I took the airplane tour (my first trip to Hawaii), we could see several of the waterfalls that they show in the Hawaii documentaries and Napali videos. The helicopter tours cost about twice as much as the airplane tours but the choppers actually take you back into some of these steep valleys where they hover for close up views.

Our airplane pilot shared lots of interesting stories with us about the geological and cultural history of the Na Pali area before showing us the rest of Kauai island. In ancient times when an ali’i (member of the ruling class) died, a volunteer would rappel down one of the steep cliffs till he found a secret cave where he would hide the bones. He would never return though. The rope would be cut, sending him hundreds of feet to his death, thus ensuring the burial cave would remain forever a secret and the mana (spiritual power) of the ruler’s bones would never be stolen. On a lighter note…

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Napali Boat Tours

We took a Zodiac raft tour. The motorized rafts are very sturdy and rigid (the kind the Navy Seals use), but they do bounce over the waves – a lot. I liked it the raft though because being so close to the water made looking up at those towering cliffs all the more impressive and seeing the whales all the more exciting. A humpback whale the size of a bus breeched so close to our raft we could see the barnacles on its head! However, if bouncing over waves isn’t your thing, you might prefer a sailboat sunset cruise or a catamaran snorkeling tour.


Source by Cindy Blankenship

About Us

Established in 1971, we are a family owned and operated Na Pali Sailing Catamaran Company from Hanalei Bay located only 5 minutes North of Na Pali. Our departures from Kauai's North Shore allow true sailing opportunities along the Na Pali Coast. We offer Hanalei's only sailing tours and take no more than 15-17 passengers per trip.

Opening Hours

Open Daily 8:30am - 5:30pm

Contact Us

Our Hanalei Bay departures from Kauai’s North Shore allow true sailing along the NaPali Coast.
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