Na Pali Coast helicopter tour passengers enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Hawaiian Islands. The rugged cliffs of Na Pali drop straight to the ocean in most places. Some of the cliffs and coastal mountains rise more than 4,000 feet above sea level, and are inaccessible except by boat, on foot, or by helicopter. To see this magnificent coastline from the air is a breathtaking experience. There are companies offering short sightseeing tours of the region, as well as longer flights over a good portion of the island. There are also operators who will drop passengers off in remote areas so that they can hike out. A helicopter tour is particularly rewarding during the whale watching season. The state of Hawaii actively and zealously protects the pristine coast as well as the rugged interior and the area’s archeological sites. Permits are required to hike, camp, and even to access beaches by boat.
Hiking Trails - Kalalau Trail
Most of the Hawaiian Islands have excellent hiking trails. Kauai is blessed with a number of very extensive trails that reveal spectacular scenery. The trails run the gamut from easy and moderate to quite strenuous. Many of the ones along the Na Pali Coast, such as the Kalalau Trail, are strenuous because of the steep cliffs and rugged terrain. The Kalalau Trail follows the Na Pali Coast for eleven miles from Ke’e Beach to the Kalalau Valley. It lies within Na Pali State Park, which means access is controlled. A very experienced hiker in excellent condition can hike the full trail in a day, but the majority of hikers will obtain a permit to camp and finish in two days.
The beaches along the Na Pali Coast are not the endless stretches of sand lined with sunbeds and umbrellas that you find in some of the more developed resort areas. The beaches, like the rugged interior, are not easy to access. There are five major sandy beaches with Na Pali State Park and only two can be reached by land. The other three can only be reached by boat, and only from about mid-May to mid-September. The west side of the island has the strongest seas. Along the Na Pali Coast the seas are even stronger because of the cliffs. There are no lifeguards, and all swimmers, divers, and snorkelers should take extra care. Perhaps the most picturesque of the five beaches is Honopu Beach, which is actually two beaches cut in half by a large arch of lava and graced by a sparkling waterfall that drops down onto the beach from the cliffs above.
Mark Twain called Waimea Canyon the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, ten miles long by one mile wide and more than 3,500 feet deep. While only a fraction of the size of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, it boasts equally breathtaking scenery. It has 45 miles of superb hiking trails and several lookouts that are truly magnificent. It was formed both by millennia of erosion as well as the collapse of the original volcano that formed the island of Kauai.
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