Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Jocelyn Murray February 23, 2014 No Comments

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The island of Kauai rises from the ocean like the clawed foot of a beast. The sharp ridges, deep valleys and steep slopes of its North Shore sink like talons into the surrounding sapphire sea.  

It has a harsh, almost feral beauty. 

 

Gnarled and chiseled cliffs reach down to the sea like the claws of a great beast
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Chiseled cliffs are softened by what appears as emerald-green moss growing like fine fur over its rocky bluffs. Such stunning splendor is reminiscent of a prehistoric time:

Wild, savage, utterly primitive and pristine.

There is something ferocious and unforgiving in its primeval allure. It quickens the pulse and steals one’s breath away, simply from contemplating its rough and rugged magnificence.  

Kauai is the oldest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, dating back about 5 million years. One would guess that time itself would have tamed the beast, if not for man.

But no. This beast is quite untamable. 

Na Pali means “high cliffs,” and appropriately so. Some of its peaks sore close to 3,000 feet above the ocean. Over 6,000 acres of land encompass the state park that is located on Kauai’s North Shore. Waterfalls, streams, hidden pools, glorious pinnacles, rocky caves, paths and trails meandering along lush, tropical greenery is almost dizzying with its heady, oxygen-rich and earthy floral-scented air. It is a sensory experience that rejuvenates the whole being.   

 

The dramatic scenery is breathtaking
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EXPLORING THE NA PALI COAST

Hiking is the best way to get immersed in the enchantment of the scenery. Helicopter and sea tours also offer stunning panoramic views of the coast that has bewitched visitors with its dramatic surroundings time and again since its discovery by the first Hawaiian settlers centuries before. The 11-mile Kalalau Trail is a challenging hike that leads to the secluded Kalalau Beach. Its cliffs can be hazardous, posing a danger with flash floods, muddy trails, steep slopes and falling rocks. But the most popular part of the trail is the first two miles, and a much safer bet for any novice or family with younger children. Anything more requires planning, stamina and a strong will to traverse the lush valleys and fluted cliffs beckoning ahead.  

It is no wonder so many movies have been filmed here: films like King Kong, parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World, to name a few. The Na Pali Coast truly is impressive with its secluded beaches accessible only by foot or by sea.  

 

Stunning views abound throughout the park
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Visiting Na Pali Coast State Park might be like approaching a great beast whose ferocious nature is only matched by the immense and fathomless ocean into which it has sunk its jagged and treacherous claws. It is best to come meek and humble, facing its immense power with a sense of reverence, awe and respect.

Some wish to conquer its dominance while exploring its unspoiled majesty.

But a beast like this cannot be subdued. It can only be roused, awakening the primal being within those visiting souls.

To behold it in all its primitive glory is an experience one will not soon forget. And rightfully so. It remains striking and steadfast in a world that time itself seems to have forgotten. 

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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