A trail navigates the sheer cliffs of Kauai's Na Pali Coast and provides access to otherwise hidden beaches. (©Gareth Tate)

Hiking Kauai's Gorgeous Na Pali Coast

By WhereTraveler ® on 03/10/14

Above Kalalau beach on the Na Pali Coast, a sign welcomes visitors: "This is sacred land. Give it your utmost care, respect and leave knowing you have preserved it for future generations." One look at this stunning territory and visitors agree; this is the kind of land that embodies the meaning behind the hiker's credo of "Take only pictures; leave only footprints."

And if those photos are coming from the Na Pali Coast, expect them to be gorgeous. Case in point: Adventurer, wilderness medicine instructor, photographer and world traveler Gareth Tate shared with us some of his favorite photos of a trip down the Na Pali Coast on the famed Kalalau trail, and we could not help but drool. 

The rugged coastline is encompassed within the Na Pali Coast State Park, and the 11-mile Kalalau trail (originally built in the 1800s) paces through this rugged, natural wonderland. The state park is located on the northwestern rim of Hawaiian island of Kauai, and the trailhead is at the end of a coastal highway which leads from the communities of Kilauea and Princeville.

The Kalalau Trail leads to two established camping areas where facilities are provided. Overnight campers aren't the only ones to access the interior of the park. Day hikers are permitted to go six miles into the trail to the Hanakoa Valley (although the first two miles of the trail are most popular for day hikes thanks to numerous overlook spots), and sea kayakers can access the beach at Kalalau within a limited season.

Get there: Because Kauai is a separate island, the typical approach is to fly to Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) and then to take a 30-minute flight from Honolulu to Kauai.

SLIDESHOW: The Na Pali Coast

(All photos ©Gareth Tate)