But follow us… we’re taking the shortcut!
It’s still no walk-to-the-beach, but the 2-mile version of the Na Pali trail generously rewards you with coastline vistas for your heart-pumping work, and at the end, gives you a beach, and even a waterfall!
The trail’s a sort of goat path — a simple, steep, and often rutted path
— and it takes you from the carpark just past Hanalei Beach, on Kauai’s north coast and straight up into tropical jungle. Dense palms cast a cool shade, and we kept serpentining up and down, back and forth, along the cliff, with dizzying dropoff glimpses of crashing waves through the fronds.
Take a gallon of water, and take breaks! After almost an hour in the tropical heat, dripping and flushed, we moaned as we read the warning sign on the beach: Dangerous Rip! Sure enough, you could actually see the current rush westward, and we had to console ourselves in the shallows along the shore.
Itching… not from bugbites but for more jungle trekking?
Head straight up the cleft of the valley from that wild beach to the Hanakapiai Waterfall.
It’s another 2 miles inland, on a well marked trail that’s not as steep yet full of surprises — deep stream crossings and even a random band of native pig hunters.
The challenges are real. You will slip on tree roots, suck into mud, and drip sweat! It’s imperative that you respect the rip tides at the 2-mile beach! But somewhere between the blue surf and the emerald jungle, we inhaled the earthy jungle pungence and felt — even the 8 year old amongst us! — exhilarated!
As a blogger posted a few years back,
Logistics of “doing” the Na Pali, or Kalalau, trail:
*you’ll need a rental car to get from the airport up to the north shore
*there are 2 campgrounds along the trail: Hanakoa (a little past the halfway point) and Kalalau Beach at the 11-mile end. Permits are required for both and cost $20pp/night: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/camping/permit_napali.cfm
*respect the sacred archeological sites along the trail
*consider a zodiac tour one-way! It’ll save your time and legs. You may even decide to tackle the entire 11-mile stretch! Captain Andy’s the guy for you: http://www.napali.com/kauai_rafting/
*don’t miss the great public campground near the trailhead at Hanalei town. It’s like Woodstock on the Beach, and a great venue to grill fresh Hawaiian green mussels, enjoy a cold Kona, and meet some new hippie pals.