Close your eyes for just a moment.
Imagine the ultimate majestic coastline with a canvas of sheer emerald hued cliffs and fluted peaks, laced with verdant valleys, cascading waterfalls, punctuated by crystalline white sand coves and hidden sea caves. There’s a very good chance you’re picturing one of the most recognizable shorelines in the world, Kauai’s Napali Coast. Known as one of the most beautiful places on earth, this untouched and magical slice of heaven will take your breath away and draw you back time and time again.
Spanning 17 miles along Kauai’s North Shore, this sacred place is fed by one of the wettest watersheds in the world. There are waterfalls and swift flowing streams continuing to cut these narrow valleys with razor-sharp ridges that tower above the Pacific Ocean. Extensive stone walled terraces and loi (taro patches) are evidence of how this area once supported vibrant Hawaiian settlements that existed on what they could grow on land and harvest from the sea.
You’ll find visiting the Napali Coast topping many list this summer for best outdoor activities and things to do on Kauai. If you’re looking to do a boat tour and cruise, explore hidden gems that are off the beaten path, combined with epic sightseeing and snorkeling on Kauai, the Na Pali Coast will not disappoint.
Holoholo — to go for a walk, ride, or sail
Water access to the Na Pali Coast
While much of this stunning coastline is only accessible by water, Members and Guest of Kukuiula can enjoy a personal trip of a life-time aboard our private 32-foot Yellowfin boat, Māhealani. Through our Huakai Outfitters, we’ll help you craft an itinerary for a custom adventure while in the capable hands of our expert guides and local watermen, whose ocean ‘ike (knowledge) has been passed down for generations.
Half and full-day charters are available, with a full list of family friendly activities that include, sightseeing laced with local history and folklore, snorkeling crystal-clear waters, and swimming in the most idyllic coves and bays. Snacks, soft drinks, fishing gear, towels, sunscreen, and snorkeling equipment are provided. A provisions menu created by Kukuiula’s own culinary team is available upon request.
Along the way you can troll prime fishing grounds using custom-made rods of a Kauai master fisherman. A host of prized species populate these waters including Mahi Mahi, Ono, Yellowfin Tuna, Ulua, Sailfish and Blue Marlin. You’ll be entertained by schools of Spinner Dolphins, Sea Turtles, and colorful reef fish. If the water spirits are smiling and you bring home a fresh catch, Kukuiula’s Chef Ben and the Umeke Kitchen staff back at The Club will be happy to prepare it for a sumptuous meal.
Beginning in November, the koholā (humpback whales) travel thousands of miles from Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to mate, give birth and raise their young. These majestic, gentle creatures are best experienced from the water, from a close yet safe distance aboard our Kailele sailing canoe or the Māhealani. The ideal time for whale watching is in February and March, before they begin to head back to Alaska in April.
Moana — ocean
Hiking the Napali Coast
If hiking Kauai is more your speed, our Huakai Outfitters can curate a Napali itinerary for you.
Your day will begin with a scenic 50-mile, 1 hour 45 minute drive to Haena State Park — roughly 22 minutes past Hanalei. The number of daily visitors on the trail is limited and reservations through Haena State Park are required, except for those with valid camping permits and continuing along the Kalalau Trail. You can stay on top of current weather conditions for the Napali Coast through the Hawaii State Parks website gohaena.com.
The most popular hike is to the verdant river valley of Hanakapiai. Hiking to the beach is a 4-mile roundtrip, and for more experienced hikers an 8-mile roundtrip to the waterfall. Access is only during the summer months, and caution and safety are paramount. Crossing the Hanakapiai river can be hazardous, particularly in rainy weather when flash flooding and strong currents occur. Once at the beach, use extreme caution as ocean conditions can be dangerous and there’s no lifeguards on duty.
For the more ardent and experienced, the Kalalau Trail is consider one of the most adventurous and scenic hikes in the world. Originally built in the 1800s, this trail system was constructed upon ancient paths that once linked traditional Hawaiian settlements along Kauai’s North Shore. Hiking through lush jungles will show you why Kauai is called the Garden Island. Traversing five valleys and a series of ridge lines before ending a Kalalau Beach, this nearly 20-mile out-and-back trail is graded but almost never level. The first two miles to Hanakapiai Beach is a popular day hike, with trail traffic dwindling once you’re past this popular destination.
From here the more strenuous hiking begins with a series of switchbacks that climb over 800 feet and traverses the Hono o Napali Natural Area Reserve, past the hanging valleys of Hoolulu and Waiahuakua, and on to Hanakoa Valley. Once past Hanakoa, you’ll enter drier conditions along a more exposed trail that offers little shade. You’ll need to pay extra attention here as sections of the trail are very narrow and the drop off to the sea is severe. The trail crosses Kalalau Stream near the valley mouth before ending at the beach. Sea caves just beyond the waterfall and stands of trees provide popular camping shelters. Exercise extreme caution, as ocean swimming is not recommended, and do not loiter beneath the waterfall or near cliff faces as there is a constant danger of falling rocks.
Safety tips for the trail and information about overnight parking permits can be found on the Haena State Park website. It’s important to know, Milolii Camping permits do not include entry to Haena State Park or Kalalau Trail as access is only via the ocean.
Always play it safe! With wet and uneven trail paths, it’s always best to wear shoes. Hiking poles are recommended. Portions of the trail offers little shade, so don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Let someone know when you’re going and expected back. The trail transits sensitive cultural heritage sites that require the utmost of respect. Remember what goes in comes out, leave no trash behind. Check weather conditions before leaving, and word to the wise, don’t leave any valuables in your car. Most of all, enjoy.
Please note: It is illegal for anyone to provide commercial boat transportation for drop off/pick up at Kalalau or Milolii camping areas. There is no cellular phone coverage along the Napali Coast. In case of an emergency, someone must hike out or signal a passing boat or helicopter for help.
Pali – cliff
The Napali Coast by Air
Aerial tours, with most leaving from Lihue Airport, are a favorite way for many residents and guest to truly grasp the magnitude and panoramic beauty of the Napali Coast. It’s a memorable front-row seat to areas of Napali that are mostly inaccessible by land or water. One of those jaw-dropping moments is the majestic Manawaiopuna Falls, a featured backdrop in the film “Jurassic Park.” Most air tours of the Napali Coast include breathtaking views of natural attractions like Waimea Canyon, Opaekaa Falls, Wailua Falls, Hanalei Bay, and Mt. Waialeale — the wettest earth. You’ll also pass local landmarks like the Menehune Fishpond and Kilauea Lighthouse. The Lihue Airport is a 30-minute drive from Kukuiula, with most air tours running 60-70 minutes. Aircraft used for tours range from doors off Robinson R44 helicopters, to business class Eco-Star helicopters, to large window GA8 and Cessna airplanes.
Lele — fly as a bird
Cap off a day’s adventure
After a full day of exploring Kauai’s North Shore, you’ll really appreciate all the amenities Kukuiula has to offer. A dip in the Makai Pools with a quick bite and libation at the Makai Grill + Bar is always a welcomed treat. If you’re feeling like you need additional pampering and a healthy dose of self-indulgence, the water ritual or a massage to soothe the day away can be waiting for you at Hiilani Spa. Of course, dinner, dessert and a night cap with family and friends at Umeke Kitchen + Bar can put the perfect period to an amazing day of adventure and fun.
Hoopunahele — indulge
Na Pali Coast Best Time of Year
By sea, the ideal time to visit the Napali Coast tour is from May to the beginning of October, before our winter ocean swells roll in making the coast much less accessible by boat from November to April. Our private Māhealani charters are customized so your family and guest can enjoy all the sightseeing opportunities, watersports, adventure tours and attractions Kauai has to offer. Each personalized itinerary allows our amazing crew to show you the very best of the coast and cater to your interests: exploring its sea caves, private beaches, soaring emerald cliffs and majestic waterfalls, and maybe even some fishing along the way. If you have any questions about family-friendly water sport and adventure activities on Kauai, the team at Huakai Outfitters are more than happy to assist.
Kau — summer
We look forward to welcoming you here.
We hope this list provides some local insight on things to do and see while you’re enjoying your time on Kauai. From top-rated beaches to best-rated activities, cultural points of interest to family friendly events, Kauai is a beautiful and precious island we absolutely love and hope you will enjoy to the fullest. It’s this list and so much more that makes us so happy and honored to call Kukuiula home.
If you have any questions about the local real estate market, we’re here to provide insight on luxury homes, luxury estate lots, beachfront properties, ocean view homes, and current real estate market trends in Kauai. You can learn more about all that Kukuiula has to offer here, kukuiula.com
E komo mai — welcome
Please note: Hawaii’s ocean and beach conditions are as unique as the islands themselves. Visit hisceansafety.com which constantly monitors the surf, wind, and reports from public safety officials that directly affect the conditions for safety of Hawaiian beaches. Use the hazard sign on hisceansafety.com as well to quickly assess conditions and help you find the appropriate beach for your visit. Be pono, respectful. When visiting places of cultural significance or anywhere unfamiliar, in Hawaii we ask for permission first, so we never have to ask for forgiveness later. Not sure? Look for a kupuna, elder, and ask. They’re happy to answer questions, give directions, and help you stay pono.
Kukuiʻula recognizes the proper spelling of the Hawaiian language including the ‘okina and the kahakō. However, these have been omitted from this site for the optimal online experience and search engine accessibility. We recognize the cultural importance of the language, and we continue to use the correct spelling, including ‘okina and kahakō, everywhere outside of this online platform
Kukui‘ula embodies Ho‘okipa—heartfelt Hawaiian hospitality. We invite you to join us by staying connected. And don’t worry! We promise to only send you the good stuff.
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