It doesn’t take a national travel listing to tell me how simply breathtaking Kauai’s Na Pali Coast really is. TripAdvisor added this magical place to its list of 20 most awe-inspiring destinations in the world, alongside the Taj Mahal and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

I feel very fortunate to have experienced the Na Pali both by land and by water. Several years ago, we set out on a weekend kayaking adventuring down the coast, stopping to camp in Milolii and then Kalalau. Both spots on the Na Pali are just as amazing as the next; however, I loved Milolii the most because it wasn’t nearly as crowded as Kalalau.

Kalalau is the most sought-after destination for hikers who brave the 11-mile trek under the sun. It’s said to be some of the most rigorous backpacking in the islands, leading hikers to their final destination – Kalalau Valley. At any given time, there will be dozens of people in the valley or along the beach, basking in the glory of their accomplishment.

While I have not done the entire 11-mile trail (and don’t plan to), I have hiked the first three miles to Hanakapiai. Same as Milolii and Kalalau, this valley/beach is just as amazing. We were able to get the same panoramic views of the coast and for a moment, pretend like we were about to embark upon the crazy adventure to Kalalau. But three miles was definitely enough to satisfy my adventure cravings.

I highly recommend doing either the Hanakapiai hike or a kayak tour down the coast. If you have lots of time to spare, do both! I’ve said it once and will say it again, the Na Pali coast is simply magical and like no other in the world.

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