Na Pali Kauai Region Sights, Tours, & Information

Things to Do & Visitor Tips for the Na Pali Coast on Kauai

When it comes to scenic areas, Na Pali may very well be the top on the list here in Hawaii. Miles of rugged coastline more beautiful than anything imagined, it truly feels like another world. So whether you fly over it, hike it, or take a boat around the edges of it... Na Pali is something that must be experienced.

Historians believe this rugged yet beautiful coastline was the first area of Kauai to be settled by the ancient Hawaiians. As inhospitable as these cliffs appear, they provided the settlers with all the basics of life: freshwater from the mountain streams, native vegetation and fertile ground in the valleys, and unparalleled fishing in the vast ocean.

John Derrick
Published on: 01-23-2020
Published by: John C. Derrick
Na Pali Region Image

These sea cliffs begin at Ke'e Beach in North Kauai and continue around the north and west portion of Kauai, ending at Polihale Beach bordering West Kauai. They extend upwards of 1000 feet and made up of a series of "hanging" and traditional valleys and cliffs. A "hanging" valley is one that ends abruptly at a sea cliff rather than gently stretching out into the ocean. They are formed when the ocean's waves cut away at the lava rock quicker than the interior streams can scour out the valley floor.

Many movies, such as The Thorn Birds and portions of South Pacific, have been filmed along this coast using the dramatic background of these steep cliffs. Numerous sea caves, small beaches and high waterfalls add to the beauty and uniqueness of the landscape.

Highway 560 from the north and Highway 50 from the south bring you to beginning and end of the coast. Highway 55 and 550 travel near the top of Na Pali with great lookouts down on the cliffs and valleys. For convenience, we've also included several West & North Kauai attractions below due to their proximity & relevance to the Na Pali coastline.

View looking Southwest toward Polihale

View looking Southwest toward Polihale

View looking Northeast toward Kee

View looking Northeast toward Kee

Na Pali Top 5 Things to Do

Best Things to See in Na Pali Region Kauai

Hanakapiai Falls & Trail

#5 Rated on Na Pali Kauai Region

Hanakapi'ai Falls isn't a waterfall most visitors will ever see. Nestled deep inside Hanakapi'ai Valley on the Na Pali coast, it'll take some effort to reach.

After hiking two miles of rugged terrain along the Kalalau Trail (also on our list below) you'll have to another two miles inland via the Hanakapiai Falls Trail, along one of the most rugged trails we've ever taken, to reach this 410-foot beautiful falls located on the back valley wall.

Polihale State Park & Beach

#4 Rated on Na Pali Kauai Region

The road to Polihale may seem less like a tropical island and more like a desert highway. On a bright sunny day, the flat stretch of Highway 50 between Highway 552 and Polihale Beach can resemble a scene that looks more suited to Arizona than Hawaii.

Polihale Beach is not the easiest beach to reach, but oh, what a beach it is! At over 12 miles long, it's the perfect beach to stake your own secluded spot.

Swimming is dangerous here and a military base actually occupies over seven miles of the beach, but the view of NaPali's ending cliffs is more than enough to make up for it. If you've got the right kind of vehicle, or if the road has been graded recently, then make sure to head out to this beach.

Kee Beach

#3 Rated on Na Pali Kauai Region

Ke`e Beach is located at the end of Highway 560 and is one of the island's most popular North Shore beaches.

If you want a beach with a view, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a better view than the NaPali Coast as seen from the far right end of Ke`e Beach- it's simply jaw-dropping. Situated between NaPali and Limahuli stream, the lagoon-like beach is also popular for snorkeling. The water here is very clear and reef fish are abundant. The chickens are part of the local scene, and it makes us wonder, where else will you find chickens on a beach?

For more information on where to park, please be aware of the new rules for the whole Haena State Park area (including Ke'e Beach access).

Kalalau Trail

#2 Rated on Na Pali Kauai Region

Number one on our list is the Kalalau Trail, or what some refer to as the "Hanakapiai Trail." This trail includes the first two miles (one way) of the 11-mile Kalalau trail that stretches along the NaPali coastline, starting at Kee Beach at the end of the road on North Kauai.

It is popular with visitors who want a very scenic half-day hike. It can be semi-strenuous, however, as the trail does do a good bit of climbing and descending. Crossing the stream at Hanakapiai Beach can also be hazardous, but overall this is a good trail for visitors who want to see some of NaPali's beautiful coastline on foot.

Visitors planning to make the Kalalau trail hike must now make online reservations; which will currently be limited to 900 a day, according to the state DLNR. Please also be aware of the new rules for the whole Haena State Park area.

Na Pali Coast

#1 Rated on Na Pali Kauai Region

The NaPali Coast is the gem of all gems on the island of Kauai. There are 3 ways to visit the NaPali Coast: by land, by sea, or by air.

Stretching across a road-less expanse from Polihale Beach in on the West Side to Makana Mountain and Kee Beach in Ha’ena on the North Shore; the NaPali Coast makes up the breathtaking, beautiful northwest coastline of Kauai. 

Filled with dramatic cliff faces, pristine beaches, rugged hiking trails and extensive archaeological sites, NaPali Coast is an environment of immense power where natural forces are continually evolving the shape of the land.

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