Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Hiking Along Kauai's Na Pali Coast
There's a hike for everyone along the spiny Na Pali Coast. Burly backpackers can take on the entire 11-mile Kalalau Trail (which, at certain points, is only about a foot wide—yeesh!). But day-trippers have their pick.
For all, start at Ke'e beach, which is basically as far northwest as you can drive on the island.
Want tropical beaches to bookend your hike? Head for Hanakapai'ai Beach, where you can rinse the sweat off in sandy pools (the tide here can be ferocious, so most people stay out of the ocean). It's a hilly 4 miles roundtrip. Feeling mildly ambitious? Hike to the Hanakapai'ai Falls (8 miles roundtrip), which splits at Hanakapai'ai Beach and heads inland. Prefer sun-induced sweat to the other kinds? Stick to Ke'e Beach, where you'll find picnic tables, super clear water, reefs made for snorkeling—and even shade.
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Ke'e Beach chicken visitors
Ke'e Beach is across the road from the trailhead to the famous Kalalau Trail.
After a hike (4 miles roundtrip) to Hanakapi'ai Beach, we refreshed ourselves with beach time at Ke'e, where locals and tourists are joined by some of the island's free-range chickens. The cats in the parking lot seemed to ignore them. Perhaps, the cats find it's easier to be fed by tourists.
One day we'll return to hike the entire Kalalau Trail.