Backcountry Off Trail Hike Kauai Na Pali Coast Nikon Z9 Photography

Capturing Kauai – On Knife’s Edge at Nu’alolo

Nu’alolo on the island of Kauai is a great example for what makes Kauai magical. This canyon and shoreline on the Na Pali coast should not be missed.  Experiencing Nu’alolo and what it offers is reason enough to take a hike, and a helicopter/plane ride, and a boat tour while visiting the island.

On this day, the land route is my choice.  The Nu’alolo Trail is officially 7.6 miles in length (round-trip) and 2,686 vertical feet lost and re-gained. I however, add another one-mile of length to the trip, such that I can photograph the Na Pali Coast at its finest, and Nu’alolo Kai Beach 2,089 feet above it shores.

The Nu’alolo Trail offers deep forest, lush tropic wetlands, flowers, sweeping vistas, and knife’s edge ledges.

The Trip

The first mile and one-half of the trail provide the forest, flowers and tropical wetlands experience. This first section of the trail is uphill for a short burst from the trailhead. and moderately downhill thereafter.  The next mile of the trail is relatively flat.

At about 2 miles into the trail the terrain begins to change its feel.  Ridges covered in native grasses become more prevalent, and the trail is more up and down in nature.

At 2.8 miles the Nu’alolo Trail meets with the Nu’alolo Cliff Trail.  The Cliff Trail provides a cross canyon route (2.1 miles) that joins up with the Awa’awapuhi Trail on the other side of the canyon.  If linked together, the effort becomes a mostly round-trip experience.  However, this effort requires a car-shuttle or 1.5 mile walk on Highway 550 to return to the originating trailhead.

The one-mile in travel from the junction to the Lolo Vista is a downhill effort that is material in nature.  The route straddles the ridgeline.  The winding Nu’alolo Canyon becomes the center-piece of views.

At the 3.8 miles from the trailhead, the Lolo Vista is a big platform of ground and provides superb views. 

The Trip off Trail

Lolo Vista is not going to be the end point for me and The Border Collies on this day.  We will travel beyond the trails-end, and traverse the ridgelines out to the farthest stable point possible (within practical reason).

**** Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Worthless Trivia ****

The King of The Na Pali Coast

The sun ascends above the horizon on the western side of Kauai.  Linda, The Border Collies, and I are on our walk at dawn to Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor.  As we enter the harbor, the buzz is more pronounced than usual.  Orange Cones are lined up in a processional order fit for only the royalist of Royalty.

I am a commoner, but my guess is that either Queen Elizabeth II, Willie Nelson, or the winner of some top rated reality show is about to appear.  I am wrong. A Tribute to Da Ambassador and The King of the Na Pali Coast and his life is about to occur. There is good reason. Why? Well, Paddy Boy Malama “Da Ambassador” and “The King of the Na Pali Coast” has past away and a celebration of Paddy Boy, his life, and what his legacy represents to all of us who live in the area will happen on this day.  In order to avoid doing a disservice to Malama I ask that you read the story located [here].

Fast forward… On an an afternoon run to Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor, The Border Collies, and I happen upon Preston Lee and Jackie [nee Malama] Lee. 

Preston Lee is seeding and watering the grass surrounding pavilion area.  Lee is not an employee of the State Parks System.  He is doing the work with no fanfare, and to demonstrate respect to his late Father In Law.  Lee tells me that he plans on painting all the the tables in the pavilion – which are worn down by the heavy volume of people.  I offer to assist with the painting.  Two days later, I assist Preston with painting the tables in the pavilion.

In one of those quirky you cannot explain why kind of situations, a friendship is established. I am the beneficiary of the relationship. As most of you will attest, the Lee’s will be hard-pressed to prove (in a Court of Law or Public Opinion) the same by knowing me.

The bottom line is that Nu’alolo is special and sacred to Kauai.  It is special and sacred to the Daughter and Son-In-Law of Da Ambassador and The King of the Na Pali Coast.

In the images (above) of the pathway, the beach buildings, and trails up the Nu’alolo Stream were built by the people of the West Side of Kauai, the Father of The Father of the Na Pali Coast, The Father of the Na Pali Coast, Preston Lee, and his friends. Today, all of us are the beneficiaries of this effort.

It should be noted that access to the beach is via water only.  There are no paved roads, freeways, turnpikes, subways, elevated trains, Disney Express Passes, or even hiking trails to Nu’alolo Kai Beach.


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