Beautiful and stunning coastline made world-famous by numerous movies, including King Kong and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the Nā Pali Coast on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai is truly a sight to behold. Its uniquely jagged and forested landscape gives it an otherworldly vibe, not found (probably anywhere) on Mainland, U.S.A. It’s part of the island left relatively untouched by man, inaccessible by road, and reachable/visible only by boat, helicopter, or a 22-mile “generally challenging” round-trip hike. Located on the northwestern side of the island, it’s approximately 2.5 hours – by boat – from Port Allen, located on the southwest side. This is the port we departed from, as it’s one of the two main ports used to visit the Nā Pali Coast (the other is Hanalei).
One of Kauai’s most famous tourist attractions, the Nā Pali coast is 17 miles of stunning, sacred land. Highly revered in Hawaiian culture, it has been left relatively untouched, appearing much like when ancient Hawaiians inhabited this rugged coastline. Along with beautiful and spectacular “pali” or cliffs, there are beautiful waterfalls, flowing streams, fascinating sea caves, hidden beaches solely accessible via boat or hike, and even extensive stone-walled terraces left behind in deep valleys by the ancient Hawaiians.
The cliffs are part of the Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. Due to its popularity, hiking the trail within the park requires “advance reservations”, so one cannot simply show up and expect to hike. It’s also best to book a boat or helicopter tour as far in advance as possible, given its popularity. We ignorantly thought we could easily book once arriving to Kauai and had to search for a bit to find an available tour.
Luck was with us, and we were able to find a 6-hour boat tour with Capt. Andy’s (highly recommend). The tour’s a bit pricey – $250 per person – however, it is six hours and includes snorkeling (water and weather permitting), a tour of the Nā Pali coastline with narration and Hawaiian history, a nice lunch, open bar, and the chance for whale and dolphin watching. Sadly, luck was NOT on our side with the snorkeling, but we were able to spend more time spotting dolphins and even saw a baby humpback whale breeching!
Important note: The sea around the Nā Pali coast can get very rough, especially during the winter months when the winds have picked up. It was extremely choppy when we went out and I happened to get sea sick, which was not a fun time 🤢. Best to not be like me, and make sure to pack some Bonine or Dramamine just in case!
Overall, no trip to Kauai, Hawaii would ever be complete without a trip to the Nā Pali Coast. By land, sea, or air, it should be at the top of any “must see” to-do list. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful and unique coastline, one that will touch your soul and leave you in a state of “wow”. It’s simply a “cannot miss”!