You can't get here by car, but that's part of the appeal.

September 07, 2017

Hawaii is a place known for dramatic landscapes. But perhaps one of the best places to experience the state’s famous rugged coast is along the northwest side of Kaua’i at Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park.

Nā Pali literally translates as “high cliffs,” and the park is known for its deep, narrow valleys which abruptly cut into vertiginous cliffs at the water’s edge. Waterfalls and streams cut through the land and end in caves, which dot themselves along the coastline.

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At the bottoms of the valleys, hikers can find stone walled terraces where Hawaiians used to live and cultivate taro. Kaua’i was one of Hawaii’s first inhabited islands and settlements on the Nāpali coast date back to 1200 AD.

Hiking through the park remains one of the most popular activities, despite its difficulty (the Sierra Club rated it 9 out of 10). The 11-mile Kalalau Trail takes most visitors the whole day to complete, but it provides the only land access to the park’s Kalalau Beach.

Anybody who wants to visit the park will have to work to get there, as it’s not accessible by car.

Active travelers can reach the park by kayak or paddleboard, or by hiking a trail. It's also possible to charter a boat or helicopter to get to the park.

Travelers who want to camp overnight in the park should apply for a permit well in advance. According to Hawaii’s State Parks department, permits can sell out months ahead of time, particularly for the summer months.

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