Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park — Where to Go Hiking and Camping in Beautiful Kauai
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Whether you just want to spend the day surrounded by lush Kauai landscapes or plan to camp out for days at a time, the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park is a great place to go. Either way, be prepared for quite a trek along the Kalalau Trail to reach two of the campsites. Want to skip the hike? Get to the third campsite by kayak or boat instead.

- The Local Expert Team

If you’re looking to surround yourself in the sheer beauty of Kauai, there’s perhaps no better place to go than the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. Although it’s accessible by kayak, boat, or even helicopter, walking the trails is the most popular way to experience this gorgeous landscape. By hiking down the Kalalau Trail, you get to see all the gorgeous flora and fauna that call the lush valleys their home.

As you explore the park, you can also keep watch for traces of the native Hawaiian’s ancient settlements to explore their culture. If you look closely, you may see house platforms, irrigation ditches, and other signs of their daily life in the valleys. Remember to tread lightly to avoid damaging the relics and leave them intact for other travelers to discover as well. Also, while tempting, taking any artifacts home damages the park and is against the law, no matter how small they might be.

With the right permits in hand, you’re welcome to simply explore the trail for the day or spend up to five days camping out. If you’re traveling to the park as a tourist, you must make reservations, and then go through the Haena State Park. The only exception is if you already have a camping permit.

To go camping here, you must get your permit at least 30 days in advance. Most permits go fast during the tourist season, so sign up as soon as you have your travel plans finalized. You’ll want to reserve your parking spot as well if you’re planning on leaving a car in the lot overnight. Or you can arrive by shuttle instead to avoid extra parking fees.

Awesome activities to enjoy here include:

If you’re in the mood for a long hike, the Kalalau Trail offers just what you need. A 22-mile roundtrip, this hike will take you from Kee Beach through the Kalalau Valley and back again. The roundtrip often takes at least two days, but you can just go on a brisk four-mile hike by turning around at the Hanakapiai stream and beach. 

You have your choice of three campsites in this park. Both the Kalalau and Hanakoa sites are located along the Kalalau Trail for use by hikers looking to make it to the end and back again. If you’d like to stay at the Milolii campsite instead, you’ll need to reach it by kayak or boat between May and September.

With so many threatened and endangered bird species living here, this state park is the perfect place for your birdwatching adventures. With a little bit of patience and a good set of binoculars, you’ll likely get a chance to spot many incredible birds, including the exceptionally rare Iiwi, Apapane, and Elepaio.  

During your explorations, always use the established trails, camping areas, and toilets. Not only will this move help keep you safe on your travels, but it also goes a long way in preserving the natural landscape and historical sites. Beyond that, only use the fire rings in the campsite when you need to create a fire to stay warm or cook food.

Insider Tips:
-The Kuhio Highway regularly shuts down to allow roadwork crews to perform repairs. You can check the closure schedule by visiting the HDOT website before you hit the road.
-Cellular service is spotty to outright nonexistent in the park, so plan to be without the internet during your visit.
-Pets should never come into the park with you. Leave them with a trusted pet sitter or boarding facility instead to keep them from getting lost and harming the endangered birds.
-You can only stay at the Hanakoa campsite for one day, the Milolii campsite for up to three days, and the Kalalau site for five days at the most.
-There’s no drinking water available, so bring your own plus plan to treat stream water if needed.