Trip Number: 12033A
Staff: Diana Moskowitz
- Kayak the spectacular, chisled Na Pali coastline
- Participate in one day of service work -- perhaps a beach clean-up or
light trail clearing
- Enjoy snorkeling, beach walking, day hiking, shell collecting, reading,
and sunbathing as options throughout the trip
- Kayaks, paddles, and personal flotation devices
- Camp sites
- All meals
Photo: Jill McIntire
Kayaking the Na Pali Coast provides the adventurous traveler the opportunity
to explore a truly spectacular wilderness area. 'Na Pali' refers to the sheer
cliffs that soar up from the coastline, making the area accessible only by water
or rugged hiking trail.
This 18-mile paddle is broken up into manageable segments, allowing opportunities
to explore old Hawaiian civilizations. Our guides will indicate points of interest
along the way.
Snorkeling, beach walking, shell collecting, reading, and sunbathing are all
daily options. Day hikes range in difficulty from leisurely strolls to strenuous
hot climbs and are open to those who feel so inclined. A portion of one day
will be dedicated to service work; perhaps a beach clean-up or light trail clearing.
Because of the unpredictable nature of weather, waves, and current, each participant
should be physically able to handle conditions that can range from completely
flat seas to 6- to 10-foot rolling breakers. Previous kayaking experience is
required and ocean experience is highly recommended. A two-day introductory
course in ocean-kayaking would provide the basic skills needed.
Note: This itinerary may change due to weather, surf conditions, or availability
Day 1: Plan to meet the group in front of the agricultural
check station at the Lihue Airport on Kauai at 2:00 p.m. From here, we will
travel by vans to our first two nights' camp and put-in on Kauai's north shore.
We will then set up camp, eat a hearty dinner, and become acquainted.
Day 2: After eating breakfast and cleaning up camp, we will
travel by van to our outfitters to rent any gear that individuals may want on
the trip. Then we will take the kayaks out for an introductory paddle in order
to familiarize ourselves with the type of boats that we will use over the next
week. We may go up a nearby river or out to the ocean to a secluded beach for
some snorkeling. Afterward, it’s back to camp for dinner and beach-combing.
Photo: Jill McIntire
Day 3: After breakfast, we’ll load our personal and
communal gear and food into the kayaks and begin our journey. As we round the
first point, you’ll marvel at the view of the magnificent, chiseled Na
Pali coastline. Soon we’ll pass Hanakapiai, where the summer surf will
have deposited the first white sand beach we’ll encounter. Continuing
toward Kalalau Beach, our campsite for the next night, we’ll paddle around
(possibly even through) waterfalls. From here, far up the cliffs, you can see
the trail traversed by hikers moving to and from Kalalau. If you’ve ever
hiked this trail, you’ll be happy to be in your kayak!
Day 4: The day at Kalalau provides the opportunity to head
up the valley to Big Pool for a swim; the more hardy may wish to continue up
to the waterfall. On the way, we’ll pass through crumbling terraces and
mango and guava groves, all remnants of the large Hawaiian population that farmed
this valley until the mid-1800s.
Day 5: An early-morning paddle to the reef-protected cove
at Nualolo Kai provides views of the remnants of a Hawaiian village over 600
years old. After snorkeling through the coral corridors among colorful tropical
fish we might return farther up the coast for more views of the spectacular
cliffs that give Na Pali its name.
Day 6: Solar-heated showers, running water, and shelters make
Milolii one of the most comfortable campsites on the coast. A variety of opportunities
present themselves for these two days, depending on your interests and energy
level. Like Nualolo, Miloli’i once boasted a thriving Hawaiian community
supported by agriculture and fishing. Those interested in exploring can visit
remnants of this community or walk up the valley through old terraces along
the stream to a spectacular waterfall.
One might wish to spend time combing the beach for colorful shells, interspersed
with plunges into the inviting gentle surf. There are ample sources of entertainment
on land, but, lest you forget, you also have your kayak for playing up and down
the coast. In the quiet of the morning you might be accompanied by sea turtles,
dolphins, or perhaps a rare monk seal. In the air we will watch and listen for
shearwaters, frigate birds, red-tailed tropic birds, and perhaps an albatross.
Photo: Jill McIntire
Day 7: Using every moment to its fullest, we’ll depart
Miloli’i after breakfast to arrive at Polihale in time to possibly practice
a little surfing in the boats before carrying all the kayaking gear to the pick-up
vehicles. We will then rinse off salt and sweat in the fresh-water showers and
meet our cab back to the Lihue Airport.
Plane reservations out of Lihue should be made for no earlier than 7:00 p.m.
Always keep in mind the unpredictable nature of ocean kayaking when making your
return flight reservations; it is a remote possibility that we could be delayed
24 hours leaving Miloli’i. Although it is not included in the trip price
or itinerary, if you wish to spend the night in a hotel (ah, a bed and real
showers!) before leaving, the leader will offer suggestions for places to stay.
The Sierra Club is primarily a wilderness conservation organization, and as
members we try to maintain or improve the areas we enter. We will follow established
sanitary practices and observe all safety regulations. Any hiking or kayaking
away from camp must be done in pairs (or more) and with leader approval. The
itinerary will allow much latitude in choice of activities; however, the leaders
are ultimately responsible for the safety of the group, and their decisions
must be respected.
The trip begins on Saturday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the airport in Lihue.
If your travel plans have you arriving a day or more early, let the leader know
of your plans. Travel expenses to and from Lihue airport are the responsibility
of each participant.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Jill McIntire
We will be camping each night of this trip. Our first two nights will be along
Kauai’s north shore. We will have running water -- but can definitely
expect rain at night. Campgrounds along the Na Pali coast require permits that
will be obtained by the trip leader, but are undesignated -- meaning we will
need to be flexible in our site selections. Conditions at Kalalau are primitive,
with no running water and primitive outhouses. A waterfall will supply both
our drinking water (which must be treated) and our showers. A Mecca for hippies
in the 70s, Kalalau remains a popular location for those wishing to relive that
era. While nudity and drugs use are illegal, we may encounter those who practice
both. Milolii has running water, showers, and composting outhouses.
The trip fee includes all meals from dinner on July 21 through lunch on July
27. Meals will generally be simple but tasty. They will feature healthful cuisine,
combining foods that are familiar to mainlanders as well as those foods commonly
consumed on the islands. People who anticipate signing up for the trip who have
special dietary requirements MUST discuss these with the leader prior to signing
up. This is especially important on this trip, since we have limited space for
both food and commissary gear and cannot easily accommodate special diets.
Although the pace of the land portion of this trip is leisurely, the ocean
kayaking can be quite challenging and is best suited for people who are in good
condition, enjoy being in and on the ocean, and are comfortable in large waves.
The ability to swim is mandatory, since you may be required to swim though large
breakers. Minimum age for participants is 18 years old. Previous ocean kayaking
experience is recommended. This trip is geared for the adventurous spirit and
is not for the faint of heart.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Jill McIntire
Rental of kayaks, paddles, and personal flotation devices are all included
in the price of the trip. We’ll paddle double, sit-on-top kayaks for safety.
The leaders and our guide will review basic paddling techniques before we depart.
We will encounter a variety of weather conditions, but this will be no problem
for those who follow the recommended gear lists. Expect warm to hot days and
warm nights, with daily intermittent rain and wind.
Gear: Since all our gear must fit on our boats, it is best
to pack in small parcels. Different-sized stuff-sacks work well but must be
made waterproof by wrapping contents first in plastic bags. Those who have watertight
gear bags should bring them. Cameras and optics should be waterproof. Do not
bring more than you would carry on a backpacking trip and keep in mind that
group food and supplies will be divvied up among the participants.
Clothing: You’ll need very little clothing for this
trip; bathing suits and shorts will be the usual attire. In addition, a light
shirt, rain jacket, warm shirt (wool or pile), loose pants, tennis shoes or
tabis (Japanese reef walkers), and thongs are about all you’ll need. For
sleeping, you might include a lightweight polypropylene shirt and long johns.
Hat and sunglasses are recommended.
Sleeping material: All you’ll need is a thin sleeping
bag or blanket (wool or pile). A combination of a blanket and polypropylene
long johns works well as a sleeping bag. Down bags are discouraged, because
they are too warm and are very likely to get wet.
Tents: Each person or couple should bring a small, waterproof
tent with a waterproof rain fly. It is almost guaranteed to rain in our first
two nights, and may rain at our other campsites as well. If you’re renting
or borrowing a tent, practice putting it up at home to be sure you can do this
with ease and that all the parts are there. It is most annoying to try pitching
a tent that’s not all there in a whipping wind and rain! Call the leader
for rental details.
Further information about equipment will be supplied upon your approval for
Photo: Jill McIntire
Some excellent material to read prior to or during the trip:
- Valier, Kathy, On the Na Pali Coast, A Guide for Hikers and Boaters.
- Sutherland, Audrey, Paddling Hawaii.
- Joesting, Edward, Kauai: The Separate Kingdom.
- Burney, Prof. David A., Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua'i:
A Scientist's Adventures in the Dark.
- Grove Farm Plantation, Krauss & Alexander
- Daws, Gaven, Shoal of Time.
- The Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter newsletter is also an excellent source of
information about local conservation issues. Write to: Sierra Club, Hawaii
Chapter, PO Box 2577, Honolulu, HI 96803.
- Two USGS topo maps cover the entire trip: "Haena" and "Makaha
Point" quadrangles, Hawaii-Kauai County, 7.5 minute series. Although
these are not essential, they offer information about local topography.
Write USGS, Federal Distribution Center, Denver, CO.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Diana Moskowitz is an avid hiker, camper, and adventure seeker. She loves staying active and being outdoors. Kauai is one of her favorite places on earth and loves sharing and introducing the island to people with similar passions. She works as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor on the mainland and will gladly share her fitness expertise while on the road.
Colleen Kearney fell in love with Kauai and the Sierra Club Outings experience when she participated on a Kauai hiking trip in 2006. Since then she has led hiking and kayaking trips on the island and looks forward to sharing her love of this magical place with you.
Since moving to the West Coast five years ago, Adam Kapp has led outings in Nevada, California, and Hawaii. A web designer by trade, he takes seriously Sierra Club founder John Muir's advice to break clear away, once in a while.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips