Napali Coast  picture1 of 4
Napali Coast 2 of 4
MartinM303/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 1.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The Napali coast is a 17-mile expanse of rocky, steep, but oh-so-gorgeous series of cliffs that stretch along Kauai's northwest shore. Travelers agree there's no better way to experience Kauai's natural beauty and eye-catching terrain than at Napali, so you should make plans to marvel at it –  either on foot, from the water or from the air (there are no roads that go along the Napali Coast).

Hiking the Kalalau Trail is the least expensive method of surveying this coast, but it's also an incredibly strenuous excursion that only experienced hikers should attempt. Other popular ways of taking in Napali are via boat or helicopter, which allows travelers to see parts of the coast inaccessible on foot, such as untouched beaches, sea caves and sky-high waterfalls that are tucked between the fluted cliffs. Visitors say those prone to seasickness might want to reconsider a boat tour, as the north shore's waves tend to be very rough. If you can handle the exorbitant fees, many agree a one-hour helicopter tour is the best way to view Napali; there will be no achy muscles or queasy stomach, plus you'll get to see more of the area in a shorter period of time. Whatever you choose to do, travelers said the extra effort  whether it's a challenging hike, rocky boat ride or expensive helicopter tour  was completely worth the extra effort.

If you want to hike the Kalalau Trail, you'll need to obtain a permit. Keep in mind if you're planning on just hiking to Hanakapi'ai Valley (2 miles from the trailhead), you won't need a permit. Go farther beyond that and you'll need to get a $20 camping permit, which is valid for a maximum of five nights, even if you aren't planning on camping. Visit the Hawaii State Park's website for more information. You can take a boat tour or helicopter tour year-round. Prices vary according to excursion; visit the Hawaii State Park's website for information on boat trips and Hawaii's tourism website for details on helicopter tours.

See all Hotels in Kauai »

More Best Things To Do in Kauai

Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park1 of 8
Polihale State Park2 of 8
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park

Waimea Canyon, aptly nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," should be at the top of every traveler's itinerary. This 14-mile-long, mile-wide and approximately 3,600-feet deep gorge is awash with spectacular scenery difficult to find elsewhere on the Hawaiian islands. Here, you'll find craggy red cliffsides and crested buttes blanketed in lush, evergreen vegetation as far as the eye can see, with waterfalls and rivers dotted in between. Most travelers who visit Waimea Canyon choose to take in the sight by car, as there are multiple lookout points situated along Koke'e Road, including the popular Waimea Canyon and Puu Hinahina lookout points. If you're hoping to explore outside your car, there are trails in the canyon that range from easy to difficult. Many trailheads can be found off of Koke'e Road, with some, including the Cliff Trail Lookout and the Waipo'o Falls Trail, accessible from the Pu'u Hinahina lookout point. Helicopter tours are another great way to view the canyon from all angles.

While at Waimea Canyon, be sure to pop over to the equally stunning Koke'e State Park. What makes Koke'e Park so interesting is that despite being right next to Waimea Canyon, the park has a completely different makeup. Koke'e Park occupies thousands of acres of rainforest, and as such produces a different microclimate (the farther you drive up Koke'e, the colder it gets). Like Waimea, travelers commonly explore the park via car, as the main road through Koke'e cuts through the park. While here, be sure to visit the Kalalau Lookout and the Pu'u O Kila Lookout for stunning views of the Napali Cliffs. If you want to get even closer, consider taking the Awa'awapuhi Trail, which takes hikers to the edge of some of Napali's famous cliffs. Another trail worth trekking is the Alakai Swamp Trail, which spends more time going through the park's rainforest. Wherever you decide to hike, whether it's in Waimea Canyon or Koke'e, bring proper hiking shoes to avoid falling from the slippery mud often found on Kauai trails. 

Read more
maximkabb/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Kauai »

Explore More of Kauai

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Lyn MettlerAugust 22, 2019

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

Holly JohnsonAugust 21, 2019

22 Top Sonoma Wineries to Visit

Sip world-class wines while enjoying vineyard and mountain views.

Gwen PratesiAugust 19, 2019

30 Beautiful Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019