Napali Coast

History of Kauai’s Napali Coast

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Each Hawaiian island has a unique feature that manages to attract loads of tourist traffic to it. In business jargon, a USP you would say. Kauai, the oldest in the Hawaiian island chain, has one such prized possession that has been sweeping people off of their feet for decades now. It is the Napali Coast.

The name “Napali” translates to “The Cliffs” in Hawaiian. The 17-mile coast, lined with razor sharp cliffs, is also graced by beautiful beaches, plummeting waterfalls and architecturally intriguing features like the sea caves. Napali Coast stretches from Polihale beach in the west to Ke’e beach in the north, and is the reason why you won’t be able to drive around the island in a complete circle.

Although the splendid mountainous coastline is difficult to access and stands hidden deep inside the secluded northwestern coast of Kauai, a major part of Kauai tourism revolves around it.

In this post, we dive into the history of this coveted natural wonder to throw some light on how it came to be the revered place it is today.

How the Napali Coast was Formed

Napali Coast

The aesthetically rich coastline and the Valleys that we see today were created just like how the rest of the island came to life- through volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago and subsequent natural processes that followed.

The strong winter surfs along the north shore and the roaring waterfalls also play a major role as they continue to shape the Napali Coast, even today. This is a great example of how great a sculptor nature is, seeming as if each feature was chiseled down with care and expertise.

Kauai Hawaii Itinerary

Early Life Along the Napali Coast

The secluded Napali coast that we see today was once a flourishing ground for ancient Hawaiian communities. Early Polynesians (followed by Tahitians) who were knowledgeable about sailing and astronomy, found their way into the Napali coast and went on to make a living in the area by farming, fishing and trading.

People learned to survive by utilizing the local natural resources and traded with each other and the neighbouring islands with the help of outrigger canoes. The fertile soil gave way for taro cultivation, which today is the staple diet on the island and an integral part of luaus.

The Hawaiian royalty or the Ali’i were treated as supreme authority and were responsible for local governance. They erected rock sculptures at significant sites, which were called Heiaus, to nurture the spiritual beliefs governing the community.

Subsequently, western influence, promise of an easier lifestyle and outbreak of diseases made people move away from the Napali coast, causing it to be completely uninhabited by mid 1900s. Later on, to protect the ecosystem and stop the influx of hippies, the local government introduced a permit system for regulating camping and fishing in the area.

Traces of ancient lifestyle on the Napali Coast can be seen in Nualolo Kai even today, with the help of a permit of course.Makana Charters Tour

Napali Coast Today

Today, thousands of tourists flock to the Napali Coast for an experience of a lifetime. Reaching the coast takes some work as it is not accessible by road. The only possible routes are via the Kalalau trail, air and boat.

The Kalalau Trail starts from Ke’e beach and traverses five valleys, including some dangerously narrow ridges, before ending at the Kalalau Valley. The demanding hike takes more than a day, one way, and has two camping spots in between. This is an option reserved for adventurous hikers.

The best option would be to see the coast by boat or catamaran, as it is the only way to access the natural sea caves, valleys and beaches in the region. Boat tours often include a brief snorkeling session as the area is rich in marine life and colorful reef formation.

What started with a volcanic explosion millions of years ago, is today a paradise nurturing many species of native plants and marine life. It is no wonder why Napali coast is famously called “Shangri La” or “Paradise on Earth”.

Why Choose Makana Charters For Your Napali Coast Boat Tour

Makana Charters Boat Tour

  1. Local Family Owned Our company is a Native-Hawaiian, family-owned business. In fact, our family originally lived on the Na Pali Coast back before white settlers took over. Sharing our family’s rich history is something we look forward to each and every day.
  2. Stable Catamaran – All of our catamarans offer a double hull for extra stability.  The water on the Na Pali Coast can often be choppy, which is just the nature of living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  But choppy water does not have to ruin your day. Catamarans are known for their ability to cut through the chop and rock side to side much less than a single-hulled boat.
  3. Local, Knowledgeable Crew  Our local guides who have been here for a long time. They have some amazing knowledge on the NaPali Coast. Our guides speak from firsthand experience about exploring the coast outside their job, and share their enthusiasm for the Na Pali Coast.
  4. Small yet Spacious – Our boats are small enough to fit inside most sea caves along the Na Pali Coast.  Some of the larger boats do not have this luxury. But our boats are still large enough to walk around comfortably. Our NaPali Kai 3 is known to be one of the most smoothest and comfortable Catamarans out there.
  5. Closest Port to the Coast – We launch out of the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor at Kekaha on Kauai’s west side.  This is over 10 miles closer than Port Allen, where most tour boats leave from.
  6. Deli Lunches – On a 5 hour tour you are bound to get hungry.  We offer a great homemade lunch, snacks, soda, and dessert included in the price.
  7. Snorkeling – Above water tells only part of the story.  The Na Pali Coast is a great unspoiled coastline with abundant sea life under the water.  Swim with fish, sea turtles, and explore the gorgeous reefs in crystal – clear water. All snorkeling equipment is included in the price.

We would be honored to show you around our beautiful island on the NaPali Coast, especially the west side which we call home.  By choosing Makana Charters you will come to enjoy the great value, local knowledge, and safety/fun balance that our guests continue to rave about time and time again.

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History of Kauai's Napali Coast
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History of Kauai's Napali Coast
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Each Hawaiian island has a unique feature that manages to attract loads of tourist traffic to it. In business jargon, a USP you would say. Kauai, the oldest in the Hawaiian island chain, has one such prized possession that has been sweeping people off of their feet for decades now. It is the Napali Coast. Although the splendid mountainous coastline is difficult to access and stands hidden deep inside the secluded northwestern coast of Kauai, a major part of Kauai tourism revolves around it. In this post, we dive into the history of this coveted natural wonder to throw some light on how it came to be the revered place it is today.
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Makana Charters
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