Surviving the Napali Cliffs Hike in Hawaii

Four sunny days backpacking

Lovely beach at 2 miles on start of hike. Beware of undertow-tourists drown here.
Lovely beach at 2 miles on start of hike. Beware of undertow-tourists drown here. | Source
Marie-Belle at about 3 mile point on the trail. Tired but still smiling because of the fantastic views lush forest and the trail is easy here.However you benefit from good hiking boots and hiking poles. MB only needs one pole since she only has one f
Marie-Belle at about 3 mile point on the trail. Tired but still smiling because of the fantastic views lush forest and the trail is easy here.However you benefit from good hiking boots and hiking poles. MB only needs one pole since she only has one f | Source
In the forest examining aerial roots
In the forest examining aerial roots | Source
Steep green hills behind us, trail goes up and down and around. We are near stoners rock I think, about 8 miles along on day two.
Steep green hills behind us, trail goes up and down and around. We are near stoners rock I think, about 8 miles along on day two. | Source
A good look at the steep cliff section.
A good look at the steep cliff section. | Source
Day 2. I'm happy and scared at the 7 mile point of the trail where the cliffs drop about 800 ft staight down and the is trail about 6 inches wide in places.
Day 2. I'm happy and scared at the 7 mile point of the trail where the cliffs drop about 800 ft staight down and the is trail about 6 inches wide in places. | Source
We saw some whales jumping right out of the water. Then we came to Red hill near mile 9 approaching the steep decent down the red rock, gravel and dirt to the campground and beach at the end of the trail.
We saw some whales jumping right out of the water. Then we came to Red hill near mile 9 approaching the steep decent down the red rock, gravel and dirt to the campground and beach at the end of the trail. | Source
I really was happy to have two walking sticks  decending red hill
I really was happy to have two walking sticks decending red hill | Source
Goats have no trouble grazing on the steep cliffs
Goats have no trouble grazing on the steep cliffs | Source
I almost fell in a big hole on this last creek crossing before 11 mile campground.
I almost fell in a big hole on this last creek crossing before 11 mile campground. | Source
11 mile campground 100 ft back from the beach, but if you search there are beach view campsites.
11 mile campground 100 ft back from the beach, but if you search there are beach view campsites. | Source
Red Cardinal-birds raid our cook kitchen.
Red Cardinal-birds raid our cook kitchen. | Source
Waterfall at 11 mile point on beach at end of hike-a great clean water source and bathing pools below.
Waterfall at 11 mile point on beach at end of hike-a great clean water source and bathing pools below. | Source
Early morning yoga at the beach.
Early morning yoga at the beach. | Source
I am at the mouth of the dry cave just past 11 mile waterfall at the end of the hike. People sleep in this large cave. Beyond it is the wet cave-accessible at low tide if you scramble over steep rocks before a big wave hits you.
I am at the mouth of the dry cave just past 11 mile waterfall at the end of the hike. People sleep in this large cave. Beyond it is the wet cave-accessible at low tide if you scramble over steep rocks before a big wave hits you. | Source

Hints on Surviving the Napali Cliffs Backpack trip

The Nappali Cliffs hike is FANTASTIC-but only if you have a good head for heights and are used to going up up up and then down down down on narrow trails which may have a big drop off on one side.

You Dont Have to Wait Like I did

Friends told me about this hike 25 years ago, but I didn't have any details and thought Hawaii would be crowded and hectic.Once I got there I realised my negative assumptions were totally wrong and wished I had gone to Hawaii years ago. We read up on the hike in my travel bible "Lonely Planet Hawaii." Then my partner emailed for permits and we both started packing as light a pack as possible: sunscreen, powdered soup, ramen noodles, cook kit , water purifying system etc.

Be Prepared for Rain

It rains a lot on the north shore of Kauai.

Hikers and campers need waterproof clothes and waterproof tent, good hiking boots or shoes with great tread, collapsible hiking poles, bug repellent,headlights,lightweight stove,and rock hopping/ stream crossing skills. We were lucky most days it was mild and reasonably dry in the daytime and rained at night. Most people we met on the hike were loving it. But we met a few who booked the hike with Hawaii State Parks, paid their $22 per day fee, flew to Kauai, drove or hitch hiked to the start of the hike, and then turned back near the start or somewhere before the end of the trail at mile 11. Some reasons why people turned back were:

"It was too steep, and dangerous. I didn't want to risk my life.I didn't know it was going to be so muddy.I didn't want to walk on such a narrow bushy path.We couldn't see where the path was going. The rivers were too hard to cross. I got to the dangerous part at mile 7 and there was such a steep drop and the wind was blowing hard and I just froze."


The Scary Part of the Hike

The scary part is mainly between mile 7 and mile 8. The first day, like most people we hiked 6 miles up and down and through narrow and muddy trails over spectacular headlands to the first campsite deep in the forest by a small waterfall. We cooked dinner in the cook shelter and slept well. It rained in the night but our tent is very waterproof and we were able to dry our tent in the cook shelter after breakfast. We tackled the steep cliffs in the morning while we were energetic. Some unfortunate back packers got stuck on those steep cliffs in heavy downpours and powerful windstorms. That could have been dangerous.

Be in Shape

To enjoy the hike you need to be in shape. We are retired women in our mid sixties and very experienced backpackers. We thought we would hike two miles per hour. We managed one mile per hour. We were unusually slow due to the steep terrain, the creek and stream crossings, and our dwindling fitness. Most younger hikers were much faster. But a few of the young people were almost as slow as us. At the mile 11 beach we met a young Alaskan trail runner who had run all the way to mile 11 in about two hours. He was smiling, drinking his water and eating his gummy bears and preparing to run back. He figured his return time would be about 2 hours and fifteen minutes. Very Amazing trail running.

Delicious Fruit Grows Wild in the Valleys

The trail alternates between exciting cliff faces with great views, and densly vegetated vallies and ravines. One nice part of this beautiful hike is the delicious fruit growing wild in the lush forest. Friendly people gave us guavas, oranges,passion fruit and wild plums. There were wild tomatoes and arugula at the side of the trail and giant aloe vera for your skin.Generally the weather is mild even when it rains. But storms and possible gale force winds can occur so check the weather reports before you set out. Also bring water purifying drops or better yet a good water filter because there are goats and rats and cat and people above the water sources. That means you can get really sick from drinking untreated water. Google for more info and read up on the hike and if you decide to go- YOU WILL be CHALLENGED and HAVE FUN!

GET YOUR HIKING and CAMPING PERMITS

Hiking and camping permits: Hawaii State parks, 3060 Eiwa street room #306 Lihue Hawaii zip 96766 phone 808 587 0300

Camping gas cylinders Peddle and Paddle, in Ching Young Village Mall which is just on your right of the highway as you go through Hanalei, the last town before the beaches and caves at the trail head.


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Comments 13 comments

marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC Author

Thanks mbtreat. Thanks MyMastiffPuppies.


MyMastiffPuppies profile image

MyMastiffPuppies 5 years ago

Beautiful pictures, it looks like you were on an adventure. Voted up, useful,beautiful and awesome...


mbtreat profile image

mbtreat 5 years ago

Great Photos Marsha. I'm also glad I survived this hike.


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC Author

Hi River, Crafty,Chris

Many Thanks for your appreciative comments.

Now I'm thinking about writing a hub on one of my cold glacier trips.


River Glen 5 years ago

I found you. Love your courage, eye for photos and knowledge of the outdoors.


craftybird profile image

craftybird 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Such beautiful photos! You're much more energetic than I am! Keep on trekkin'!


Chris Mann 5 years ago

Well done, Marsha! Realistic descriptions and tips for potential hikers, and gorgeous photos. I love the last one especially - a photograph of celebration!


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC Author

Thanks Marie. I have a lot to learn about this site but so far I love the site.


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Welcome to hubpages marshacanada and your photos in this hub are just beautiful. If you'd like more info about hubbing visit the HP learning center or send me any questions and I'll help where I can. Cheers Marie, member of hubgreeters team.


CARTER32071 profile image

CARTER32071 5 years ago

They are truly beautiful,thanks for sharing.


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC Author

Thanks for your comments Carter. Steph did the hike so she knows hike is even more beautiful than the photos.


CARTER32071 profile image

CARTER32071 5 years ago

Beautiful photos. I love the waterfall photo it is so beautiful, makes me wish I was there in front of it.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Beautiful photos! We recognize the dry cave photograph from our trip to Kauai many years ago.

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