The Location: Kalalau Beach sits on the remote northwest edge of Kauai (Hawaii’s oldest island), on the rugged Na Pali Coast — 3,000-foot cliffs that fold in and out like an enormous accordion.
The Activity: Hiking
The only way to reach Kalalau Beach is on foot, with an 11-mile trek starting where the Kuhio Highway ends. While it’s possible for boats to get there, it’s illegal to drop off or pick up hikers, except in the case of an emergency. The trail starts at Ha’ena State Park, and all but the first two miles are for experienced hikers only. You’ll cross undulating terrain through five tropical valleys, and along precarious cliff ledges high above the crashing waves. The reward: some of the most dramatic coastal views on the planet, and eventually, a one-mile long sandy beach tucked between the ocean the fluted cliffs, completely isolated from humanity, save a few other like-minded campers. Campers are permitted to spend up to five nights here. You’ll want every one of them.
What Else to Do: Experienced swimmers enjoy body surfing in the nearshore waters, followed by a rinse in the “shower,” a stream-fed waterfall at the edge of the beach. Don’t miss the two-mile hike from the beach into the valley. Here you’ll find former agricultural terraces now overgrown with edible fruit trees including coconut, mango, guava, and papaya. You may also find non-conformists who’ve left society, à la Christopher McCandless, and taken up permanent residence in the valley.
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