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Hiking the Napali Coast

One day the surf was a bit threatening and we decided to go hiking. The Napali coast, on the North-West of Kaua'i, is very steep. Sheer cliffs covered with vines plunge into the sea. There is no road but there is a very spectacular trail: the Kalalau trail. It is a steep and muddy trail that hugs the coastal cliffs for 11 miles. We planned to go only 2 miles to the Hanakapi'ai beach and then turn around.

Ready to go? Immediately the rocky and muddy trail climbs steeply in the dark jungle. After a while, an opening in the vegetation allows a nice view of the Ka'a beach, where we started the hike. Unfortunately, after this picture of a wild orchid, my camera batteries ran out, so all the following pictures were taken by Claude.

Most of the time the trail is carved on the side of steep cliffs. Stepping off the trail could mean a very long slide to the ocean below. Fortunately, the vegetation is luxuriant and hides the abyss, so that looking down is not so scary. You have to be careful, though, since mud is everywhere and the trail is slippery. At one point we had to stop because a work crew, attached with ropes to trees above, was working to enlarge the trail. We watched them for a few minutes, chatting with their leader (a cheerful woman with big muscles) and listening to the boulders they were moving crash far below us.

After an hour and a half, or so, we finally got a glimpse of our destination. As we climbed down toward the beach, we also saw that the weather was getting slightly ominous. Just before the beach we reached a small river. One can walk along it for a couple of miles to a tall waterfall, but we decided against that. We crossed it gingerly and had lunch on the rocky beach. Claude, always the optimist, tried to catch a few rays despite the deteriorating weather. The rain caught up with us on the way back and Claude packed up his fancy camera. We did manage to get back to the car without problem, though rather muddy.

Limahuli botanical garden
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