In Hawaiian, nā pali means “the cliffs.” The Nā Pali Coast in northwest Kaua‘i deserves its name. Over millennia, torrential rain has given the volcanic landscape grooves and spikes like those of a Gothic cathedral. Featured in such films as Jurassic Park and King Kong, the 15-mile stretch of primeval valleys and 3,000-foot sea cliffs is an iconic American landscape, accessible only by helicopter, by boat, or on foot. The main attraction is the strenuous, 22-mile round-trip Kalalau Trail. The route passes rock terraces where native Hawaiians once planted taro. Java plum, guava, rose apple, and papaya trees provide hikers with shade and ripe fruit. From the ridgetops, trekkers can spot dolphins, sea turtles, and the occasional monk seal playing in the turquoise waters below. The path ends at Kalalau Beach, where travelers can rest and, during the summer, camp before starting the journey back.
If you travel to Kaua‘i, book a room at the St. Regis Princeville Resort. From $500. 5520 Ka Haku Rd., Princeville, (808) 826-9644, stregisprinceville.com.
This appeared in the May 2013 issue.