Select Page

Hiking Napali Coast – Kauai

by | Feb 9, 2015 | America, Hawaii, Travel Stories | 0 comments

Boarded the plane from Honolulu on a hot summer day, bags filled with hiking gear and good vibrations. We were ready to take on the infamous Kalalau trail on the Island of Kauai. An 11 mile hike that takes an average of 6 – 8 hours going in. We did not know what to expect, and I dont think we ever could predict what was to come. 

Pic 1: An encouraging sign informing on the number of deaths by drowning at the upcoming beach… 
Pic 2: It is a pretty tough hike carrying all the gear, but man… Surprises await around every corner.
Pic 3: The beach where the hike starts. We get some awesome views right away.
Pic 4: Already at 0,5 miles in you get some idea of what to expect… 

To hike the Napali Coast, or Kalalau Trail as it is actually named, you need to have a hiking permit to get passed the 2 mile checkpoint. These are about 20USD each and can be purchased here. You might try to chance it and hope there are no guards checking. However, they do check quite often – and did when we were there. And the money goes to maintaing the trail, so it´s good courtesy to just have the paperwork in order 🙂 Be sure to get them in good time, they go by fast! 

Pic 1: The first viewpoint really takes your breath away. This is about 1 mile in. 
Pic 2: The mountains tower over the hike and you feel small like an ant. 
Pic 3 – 4: Green lush valleys, steep gravel cliffs, intense views, wonderful fruit, occasional waterfalls and beaches. This hike has it all. 

We started the hike a little late and were forced to spend the first night at a small campsite in the woods. It was us and about 4-5 other hikers, randomly enough one of them was a guy working in the same company as me! It´s a small world. Next day he joined our group and we set out to finish the hike early. 

Pic 1: Second day of hiking and we can spot the end destination – Kalalau Beach.
Pic 2: Mandatory picture-time, and enjoying the views.
Pic 3: Majestic views all the way.

Although hiking the Napali Coast is incredibly stunning, you should be vary of your surroundings while walking. There have been many accidents on this hike, and there is particularly one infamous section of the hike that you should NOT do in bad weather: The Crawler´s Ledge. This is a super narrow part of the hike that turns completely to mud during rainy weather, and was one of the reasons we had to turn back on my first try to hike this trail. You can watch a clip of this in this youtube video (or just do a search for it…).

Pic Courtesy of Andy H. YouTube video: Crawler´s Ledge on Kalalau Trail. Scary stuff!

Getting past the scariest parts and we had just the victory lap to go. We made sure to take a lot of pictures and take in the beautiful scenery that surrounded us everywhere. Holy cow what a beautiful place this is. If you haven´t been, make it your next destination!

Pic 1 & 4: I love the symmetrical shape the coastline makes – valleys go in and out making it one helluva zig-zaggy trail.
Pic 2: Could have worse views for your morning yoga session. 
Pic 3: Our sore legs needed this motivation – the beach getting closer.

The 11 mile long Napali Coast trail zig-zags in and out of the mountain ridges, and takes a total of about 6-8 hours to hike one way. 

Walking the final stretch was more like levitating. Our legs were jello from carrying our (way too) heavy bags, joints were hurting, and  stomachs were aching from poor nutritional meals. But none of that mattered when we knew the beach was only minutes away. It was like entering a scene from the movie “the Beach” with Leo DiCaprio, bunch of smiling hippies with their creative campsites welcoming us to their everyday reality. People lived here! People from all over the world. And many of them had been doing so for years. What an atmosphere, what an experience, what a dream!

Pic 1: The final stretch before the beach offered some great river and jungle scenery.
Pic 2: After 11 long miles, we could finally kick off our hiking shoes and feel the sand between our toes!
Pic 3: Getting out of our clothes, and hit the blue ocean was first priority.
Pic 4: So excited for our new home the next 3 days. The waterfall to the right was our morning shower. And drinking water.


Pic 1: The beach is absolutely stunning!
Pic 2: The view from the morning shower. Can it get better than this? Don´t think so…

 The days that followed offered endless opportunities of exploration, relaxing on the prettiest beach in the world, and just being part of a wonderful society of people who had either hiked in like us or settled there for a longer period of time. I wouldn´t mind settling down here for a while myself either….. 

Pic 1: Shannon Shadow-tanning at our first campsite on the beach.
Pic 2: Everywhere there were caves that you could swim or walk into. This one has a beach on the inside and a little lake.
Pic 3: Walking along the endless beaches exploring what Kalalau had to offer. Here we were on our way to Naked Rick´s Cave.
Pic 4:We moved our campsite down to the beach to be able to see the stars at night. Lookat those mountains, though… Damn…

On our first day there we went exploring around the area, and ended up at a cave where this guy “Rick” lived. He walked around naked, like a bunch of other people did. He had lived here for what i believe was 15 years – and he had his own cave where he had decorated and made it into a home. He invited us for popcorn and storytelling inside his cave later that night. Of course we accepted! 

Pic 1 & 2: Our sunset reading session in the cave with Rick. He had been living here for several years. A lof of people showed up, and he had prepared pesto-popcorn. You can not even imagine how tasty that was after two days living off of tuna fish, beef jerky and energy bars…
Pic 3: The caves were just as amazing inside as looking out.
Pic 4: People had built some kind of monuments outside of one of the caves.

The atmosphere of sitting in the cave listening to his voice in almost complete darkness was divine. In addition to that, he had one of his friends play some kind of flute as we walked in, the acoustics were amazing. And he served us pesto-popcorn. ´nuff said… After the whole thing was over, we spent the night looking at the stars, drinking beer, swimming, making friends – and just enjoying life!

Pic 1: The caves and rock formations made for some great photos.
Pic 2: This girl took me to a small cliff and we just sat there and meditated together. It was wonderful. 
Pic 3: Every night we had bonfire and drinks, and made friends with the locals and hikers.

Unfortunately pictures dont do the place justice. Standing here looking at the towering mountains was nothing short of religious. I have never seen, nor felt anything like it in my life. Just magnificent. And every direction you turned – there was always a perfect picture waiting!

Back from the hike, we had a little extra time so we drove to a waterfall called Wailua falls and hiked down to get a proper shower. This hike unfortunately cost me my Canon t2i camera, but at the moment i didn´t really care. The moment was too great to care… This trip awakened something within myself, the world is so full of wonders. I will never stop exploring. And neither shall you! 

You can understand the size of the waterfall by looking at Shannon and Alea in the bottom left corner. 
It was pretty epic standing directly under the waterfall! 

More like this

Join me on some of my other trips around the world