The majestic Nā Pali Coast is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Pacific. Isolated from civilization, this 6,175-acre state park is inaccessible to vehicular traffic. Hiking, kayaking and camping are permitted, but the easiest way to get a look is to take a Nā Pali Coast tour by helicopter or boat.
What You Can Expect to See on a Na Pali Coast Tour
A Nā Pali Coast tour will take you along a 15-mile stretch of rugged coastline on Kauaʻi’s northwest shore and will provide you with awesome views of 4,000 foot cliffs (or pali) that rise abruptly out of the Pacific breaking occasionally to reveal wide stretches of golden sand, deep jungle valleys and mysterious sea caves.
During the winter (from December through April) humpback whales frequent Kauaʻi waters. Expect to see these playful dirigibles of the deep putting on a show along with dolphins, sea turtles and other sea creatures.
Hanakapiʻai and Kalalau are well-known Nā Pali Coast State Park destinations. National Geographic Traveler has called Kalalau Beach one of America’s Top 40 beaches. Honopū, with its famous arch, Nuʻalolo and Miloliʻi with their fringing reefs are also well storied.
A Bit of History for Your Na Pali Coast Tour
The shoreline area of Nuʻalolo Aina was once a fishing village ringed by steep sea cliffs. At the eastern point of the bay is a high vertical sea cliff. It was up the face of this cliff that a trail made of a series of rope ladders once led to the heavily terraced valley on the plateau above.
The Hanging Valley, its floor 150 feet above the twin beaches of Honopū, is the subject of a modern legend concerning the Valley of the Lost Tribe. In 1922, visiting archaeologists found several skulls thought to be primitive, pre-Hawaiian people. Later studies of the valley and its artifacts have determined all of its residents were clearly Hawaiian, but the legend, so much more interesting than the truth, endures.
Choosing Your Na Pali Coast Tour
Your choice of tours will depend on your itinerary and how adventurous you feel. Most Na Pali Coast tour boat companies launch from westside harbors, though several small companies are permitted to depart from Hanalei. Some cruise to the island of Ni’ihau, most stop for snorkeling and/or scuba diving, and many provide dinner or cocktails as an added perk on deck. Sunset cruises are particularly romantic and scenic!