The Na Pali Coast is a very special place. The 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 Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro.
The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. 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 Hanakāpīʻai and Kalalau.
Originally built in the late 1800’s, portions of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930’s. A similar foot trail linked earlier Hawaiian settlements along the coastline.
For most backpackers in good condition hiking the 11 miles will take a full day. Get an early start to avoid overexertion in the midday heat.
For experienced swimmers knowledgeable in local sea conditions, near-shore waters offer limited opportunities for swimming and body-surfing. Naturalists will find a number of points of interest. Native and introduced tropical plant species abound. Many rare native plants grow on inaccessible cliffs. Wild goats are often seen along the trail route.