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Kauai – A Hiker’s Paradise

Na Paili

When P.O.D. (Princess of Darkness) and I traveled to Maui over Christmas for our honeymoon, visions of cocktails on a tropical beach soon led to an overnight backpacking trip in Haleakala National Park. We did get our beach time in but were amazed at the hiking opportunities Hawaii had to offer. Hawaii had cast its spell on us.

Fast forward one year and we were back on a plane headed to the less populated “Garden Isle” of Kauai. We’ve found that shipping our Ligthtrek carbon fiber poles & tent stakes general delivery in a tube to a local post office in addition to packing our Gossamer Gear Murmurs and SpinnTwinn in our carry-on makes for easy transport of our hiking gear. No checked luggage required.

Tarp Shelter

An early web search of “best hiking in Hawaii” had pointed us to the Kalalau Trail along Kauai’s spellbinding Na Pali Coast. We allotted two weeks for our stay in Hawaii once again and the Kalalau Trail was on the list of must do hikes during our visit.

P.O.D. and I quickly discovered that a number of Kauai’s beaches, especially on the north shore, required a 5-15 minute hike via dirt trails to access the beach. Secret Beach was no different but was well worth the hike given the lack of people, intermittent lava rock and views of the Kilauea Lighthouse, which marks the northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Islands. We alternated between our Minimalist backpacks and RikSak daypacks as our packs of choice.

Na Pali Trail

In preparation for our 22-mile hike along the Na Pali Coast, we chose to day hike the Sleeping Giant & tackle the Makaleha Hike. Our guidebook labeled the Makaleha Hike as being “only for the advanced hiker” which we initially scoffed at and then rather quickly were humbled by. Lots of muddy overgrown “trail” with frequent river crossings made for slow going and some great photos.

Christmas Day we headed over to the Kalalau Trailhead on the edge of Ke’e Beach. P.O.D. used the Murmur Hyperlight & I had my older Murmur for the trek. The next 2.5 days involved some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever experienced on trail. Think Jurassic Park. And that’s no joke as parts of the movie were filmed along the Na Pali Coast. We experienced beach camping under our SpinnTwinn, a side trip to 1,400’ Hanakoa Falls, a morning spent along remote Kalalau Beach 11 miles from the trailhead and did I mention the views?

Princes of Darkness?

Princes of Darkness?

We’re already planning our next trip to Hawaii. The Big Island has more hiking trails (and beaches) that need to be explored and the trails in Volcanoes National Park will be a good starting place. Aloha & Mahalo!

This post was written by Trail Ambassador Lawton Grinter, author of I Hike. You can read more about his adventures on his blog.

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6 Responses to Kauai – A Hiker’s Paradise

  1. Philip July 24, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Beautiful scenery Disco! How did you get that beak on the tarp?

  2. Jeff Ross July 26, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    A great island to hike on,

    if you have not done the ‘Tunnel’ hike, it is a must. I would consider one of the best hikes I have done anyplace.

  3. Mike Conlon July 26, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Your post brings back good memories of hiking the Na Pali coast trip as well as Waimea Canyon. There was a difference however, in that 23 years ago there was a commune living at the very end of the Kalalau trail – corn and other crops were planted, structures were set up with lots of folks milling about, naked kids running here and there, and fires smoldering. To say it was a let-down would be a massive understatement. I felt pretty foolish holding my wilderness permit in hand. I wonder what ever happened to them? Great hike nonetheless and glad you had a wonderful time, sans commune!

  4. Disco July 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Mike, not much of a commune there anymore although there are definitely a # of folks at the beach on an extended stay. And there are still folks growing crops in the valley above the beach.

    Philip, I fired up my sewing machine to get that beak on!

  5. Philip July 28, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Disco – I thought it looked a big different than stock. I like the looks of that beak – definitely differentiates the product to – good for an obviously wet place like Hawaii.

  6. Faith Pliska September 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    @David – I’m not sure that was the point…

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