is Hawaiian for the cliffs
Nāpali Coast State Park, a breathtaking wilderness area on the north shore
of the island of Kauai, stretches along 12 miles of undeveloped shoreline.
Nāpali Coast is a very special place. The 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,
house platforms and temple structures can still be found on the
valley bottoms where Hawaiians once lived, farmed, and worshipped.
You've probably seen the beauty of this coast already —
Nāpali is prominently featured in most advertisements for Hawaiʻi,
in travel magazine articles, and as
the setting for TV commercials and Hollywood films.
The State Parks Division grapples daily with trying to manage Nāpali's
6,175 acres of wilderness, home to countless cultural and archaeological
sites, threatened native ecosystems, and many known and yet to be
discovered endangered species.
An estimated 150,000 people visit the park annually. Presently, however, there
is not a single full-time employee dedicated to the protection of this park.
Learn more about the many problems facing the park.
The Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged
coast. The trail traverses 5 major valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where
it is blocked by sheer, fluted cliffs. 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 Hanakāpiʻai
and Kalalau, each containing camping areas.
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
Kalalau is also accessible by boat, and kayaking is an alternate way to see
the coast under one's own power.
Today, Kalalau Valley at the end of the trail serves as one of the premiere
backpacking destinations on the planet.
Boat Access Only
Day use is permitted at Nuʻalolo Kai and Miloliʻi,
two areas west of Kalalau which are accessible only by boat during periods
of calm surf. Nuʻalolo Kai, a small land area backed by sheer cliffs
and fronted by a protecting reef, is presently the focus of the
Nā Pali Coast ʻOhana's enhancement efforts. Containing a spectacular
array of fragile cultural and archaeological sites nestled into this
small area, Nuʻalolo is visited daily by commercial boat tours
The State Parks Nuʻalolo Kai Archaeological Resource Management Project
has been carried on since 1996 and with the combined efforts of State Parks,
DLNR, the Nā Pali Coast ʻOhana volunteers and the Nāpali coast
boat companies, all who have worked together to make this one of the most
successful curatership programs in Hawaiʻi. Over the summer months of
May to September, work groups arrive in Nuʻalolo with the help of the
tour boat companies that service the coast. The main objective
has been to map and document all the existing Hawaiian sites, so that condition
can be assessed and a long-term caretaking plan can be implemented.
To date over half of the sites have been documented,
yet on almost every trip new sites are discovered.