Alan Carpenter has worked for Hawaii State Parks for 30 years, doing archeological surveying, mapping, and historical research along the coast. Between work and play, he says he’s spent “probably a year’s worth” of nights on the Nāpali Coast, mostly hiking the Kalalau Trail and its offshoots up the valleys. Like many locals, Carpenter views the area as more ancestral landscape than recreational playground. “Underneath that mantle of green is a magnificent cultural land that is extremely important to Native Hawaiians,” he says. His hope is that visitors will treat it with respect for both its natural and social significance.
A veil of water plunges 300 feet from a lip of volcanic rock before foaming into an emerald pool; Hanakapi’ai Falls, considered by many one of the most remarkable waterfalls in the world, is well worth the 8-mile round trip. It’s a popular branch along the Kalalau Trail, which provides the only land access to Nāpali. The trail starts beside the ocean at Ke’e Beach; look for the Kalalau Trail sign at the far end.