View of the Na Pali Coast
The Kalalau Trail is often considered one of the most scenic and challenging hikes in all of Hawaii.
Starting at the end of the Kuhio Highway on Kauai’s north shore, the Kalalau Trail goes up and down ridges for 11 miles across the otherwise impassable Na Pali Coast.
The trail immediately goes up and within 1/4 mile, you come across a great viewpoint of Ke’e Beach near the start of the trail.
The trail climbs steadily until you reach about 600 feet in elevation, providing amazing views as you look west to the imposing Na Pali Coast. After reaching the top of this first ridge, the trail descends into the Hanakapi’ai Valley until you cross over a stream and see the wide-open Hanakapi’ai Beach stretching out in front of you, about 2 miles from the trailhead.
Hanakapi’ai Beach is the farthest I could get in the time I had, but the Kalalau Trail continues for 9 more miles up and down Na Pali’s ridges. The trail is part of Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, and starting in 2012 camping permits are required for anyone venturing past Hanakoa Valley, 6 miles in from the trailhead. There’s also a 2+ mile spur trail south from Hanakapi’ai Beach to a 300-foot waterfall.
A mangrove tree on the path from Papageno Resort to Naivakarauniniu.
The village of Naivakarauniniu is about a one mile hike east from Papageno Resort on Kadavu Island on a well-marked trail that can still be slippery and muddy if it has been raining.
The path winds past a mangrove cluster and the over a murky stream with a rocky bridge. The trail slopes gently up and down, although it never rises more than about 70 above sea level. Most of the trail is through the rainforest and the ocean is only visible at the beginning.
Unless you have made arrangements with the village elders, it’s recommended that you stop when you see the village’s cemetery and turn back to respect the villagers’ privacy. They are extremely friendly to guests but would prefer to know of their arrival in advance.
The lower waterfall.
To reach the village of Naikorokoro and the waterfalls south of the village on Kadavu Island, hire a guide from nearby Papageno Resort to take you.
My guide Zachariah loaded everything into a boat and skimmed along the coast east of Papageno for a few minutes before docking at the tiny village of Naikorokoro.
A hike through the village to the waterfall is a little over a mile long with a 300-foot elevation gain. It barely reaches the moderate level, but the difficulty goes up if it’s been raining. I almost lost a shoe after stepping in some deep and squishy mud.
Once at the falls, you can jump right in the pool at the base of the first waterfall to clean and cool off. If you’re adventurous enough, follow your guide almost straight up to get to the second waterfall, which is even higher and more spectacular than the first. Again, the deep pool at the second fall is perfect for a swim.
Waterfalls near Papageno Resort on Kadavu Island, Fiji.
The hike from Papageno Resort to the waterfalls in the hills south on Kadavu Island is a steep climb through thick rainforest, but on a well-marked path that is not quite 3 miles round trip.
The path is mostly dirt but a few smooth rocks make for a footing challenge if it rained recently. And since it is tropical Fiji, it almost surely has rained recently!
The pools under the waterfalls (the tallest is about 20 feet high) make for a refreshing dip after an elevation gain of about 650 feet. There are a lot of caterpillars making their home around the pools.
If you’re lucky, some of the resort’s resident dogs will accompany you on the trail. And let me know if you find a pair of sunglasses… I lost mine after slipping on a rock in the path. (It had rained recently!)