When P.O.D. (Princess of Darkness) and I traveled to Maui over Christmas for our honeymoon, visions of cocktails on a tropical beach soon led to an overnight backpacking trip in Haleakala National Park. We did get our beach time in but were amazed at the hiking opportunities Hawaii had to offer. Hawaii had cast its spell on us.

Na Paili

Fast forward one year and we were back on a plane headed to the less populated "Garden Isle" of Kauai. We've found that shipping our Ligthtrek carbon fiber poles & tent stakes general delivery in a tube to a local post office in addition to packing our Gossamer Gear Murmurs and SpinnTwinn in our carry-on makes for easy transport of our hiking gear. No checked luggage required.

gossamer gear Tarp Shelter

An early web search of "best hiking in Hawaii" had pointed us to the Kalalau Trail along Kauai's spellbinding Na Pali Coast. We allotted two weeks for our stay in Hawaii once again and the Kalalau Trail was on the list of must do hikes during our visit.

P.O.D. and I quickly discovered that a number of Kauai's beaches, especially on the north shore, required a 5-15 minute hike via dirt trails to access the beach. Secret Beach was no different but was well worth the hike given the lack of people, intermittent lava rock and views of the Kilauea Lighthouse, which marks the northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Islands. We alternated between our our two ultralight daypacks as our packs of choice.

hike Na Pali Trail

In preparation for our 22-mile hike along the Na Pali Coast, we chose to day hike the Sleeping Giant & tackle the Makaleha Hike. Our guidebook labeled the Makaleha Hike as being "only for the advanced hiker" which we initially scoffed at and then rather quickly were humbled by. Lots of muddy overgrown "trail" with frequent river crossings made for slow going and some great photos.

Christmas Day we headed over to the Kalalau Trailhead on the edge of Ke'e Beach. P.O.D. used the Murmur Hyperlight & I had my older Murmur for the trek. The next 2.5 days involved some of the most amazing scenery I've ever experienced on trail. Think Jurassic Park. And that's no joke as parts of the movie were filmed along the Na Pali Coast. We experienced beach camping under our SpinnTwinn, a side trip to 1,400' Hanakoa Falls, a morning spent along remote Kalalau Beach 11 miles from the trailhead and did I mention the views?

kauai hiker

Princes of Darkness?

We're already planning our next trip to Hawaii. The Big Island has more hiking trails (and beaches) that need to be explored and the trails in Volcanoes National Park will be a good starting place. Aloha & Mahalo!

This post was written by former Trail Ambassador Lawton Grinter, author of I Hike.

July 24, 2013 — Brian Fryer