Maui & Kauai Day 11: Viewing the Na’Pali Coast, cliffside

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday was our last day in Hawaii. We had another island-hopper flight mid-afternoon to get to Oahu in order to catch our final flights out of Hawaii that evening, so we were on a definite time crunch to get in any last-minute Kaua’i activities.

Lucky for me, I woke up just as the sun was beginning to rise and couldn’t go back to sleep. I had yet to catch the sunrise during our trip, so waking up early had its advantages. I was able to enjoy the quiet morning sky turn from cotton candy colors to a a vibrant blue.

day 11-1

We finished packing early and took one more photo of our amazing view out towards the tip of the Na’Pali Coast before we hit the road.

day 11-2

There is one main highway that wraps around the island of Kaua’i. We were on one end of this highway in Princeville, the airport in the middle-ish, and the Waimea Canyon State Park on the other end. I wanted to squeeze in a visit to this state park before we left the island, even though it was out of our way to the airport.

While the Waimea Canyon wasn’t necessarily my favorite part of the island, since I prefer lush green scenery, it did hold some unique beauty. As was the case with a small, clear, sparkling waterfall we noticed roadside randomly zig-zagging through the canyon’s acidic red dirt.

day 11-3

The Waimea Canyon State Park has several lookouts that people can drive to. Some have views towards the canyon and others towards the coast. On our previous visit during the winter, there was so much fog covering one of the lookouts, the Kalalau Lookout, that we missed one of the best views out towards the Na’Pali Coast. This time, we had a clear view!

Kalalau Lookout - February 2016.JPG

The (foggy) Kalalau Lookout during our previous visit in the winter.

Kalalau Lookout - August 2017

The Kalalau Lookout during our current summer trip.

This was a delightful view on a clear day, but I wasn’t much interested in seeing this view far back from behind a guardrail. I wanted to see it up close!

Earlier this morning when I couldn’t sleep, I was busy finding a hike hubby and I could do in Waimea Canyon. At first, I had settled on a hike to a waterfall, but then I stumbled on a steep ridge hike that would give us a front row view of the Na’Pali Coast. This was definitely the hike we needed to finish off our Hawaii trip.

Reviews of the hike said it was a narrow trail with loose dirt and steep drop-offs and the last thing hikers wanted to do was 1) go in bad weather or 2) hike in flip flops. We weren’t going in bad weather, but sandals were all hubby and I had packed for our trip, so we rebelled and hoped for the best. Sandals are what I prefer to hike in anyway.

The trail was every bit as steep and scary as the reviews made it sound, but we ended up being just fine hiking in our thick Reef sandals. We weren’t even the only crazy ones on that ridge. There were goats hanging off a rocky cliffside toying with death more so than us.

day 11-7

On the other hand, the skill of these goats hanging nonchalantly off that cliff wasn’t much different than that of my husband’s. While I was climbing down parts of the steep trail on all fours and hanging on to tree trunks and dead branches with every calculated move, hubby was effortlessly walking down the entire trail like it was the escalator at Denver Park Meadows Mall.

Every several hundred feet, the ridge trail peeked out from the brush and we were rewarded with clear views of the lush green valley tinted with red dirt on one side and an even more lush, but foggy views on the other side. But no matter how many times we saw this view or how much closer we got to the coast, we still couldn’t get enough!

Halfway along the boiling hot, sweaty hike in the sun, we could see where we were hiking to. Most of the beginning part of the hike was downhill and steep, but it eventually leveled out. In the the far distance we could see that we had more downhill trail to conquer to get to the last cliff.

Kalepa Ridge Trail

When we reached the end of the hike and what seemed like the last cliff, we realized there was still another ledge past ours. A local girl was boldly telling the tourists she brought with her that she was going to venture to it, but we were definitely not swayed to continue further with her and nor were her guests.

kapela ridge

I had brought a small can of wine and we popped it open to celebrate our accomplishment of the hike. For our wedding anniversary last year, hubby and I had climbed a Colorado 14er, so it was only fitting that we do another adventurous hike this year. Couples that adventure together, stay together… unless they fall off a cliff after drinking a can of wine on a precarious hike.

It was no surprise that five minutes into our hike, hubby and I had feet that were tinted red from the canyon dirt, so by the end of the trail, our feet were caked in this stuff!

day 11-10

Luckily, when we returned to the parking lot of our hike, hubby found an outdoor faucet and we were able to wash off our legs and feet. This was particularly important because we were headed straight to the airport and hubby and I had First Class seats for our red-eye flight back to Denver. We thought we were surely going to be kicked out of First Class if we showed up with our feet looking like we had camped a week in the Waimea Canyon.

While hubby finished washing his feet, I admired the fact that at the very top of the dry Waimea Canyon, there were pretty blue hydrangeas.

Hubby and I were exhausted that night and thoroughly enjoyed our First Class flights back home. It was the first time either of us had flown first class, so I’m sure they could sniff out that we were rookies, especially when I classed up the joint with my Burger King cheesecake. Our spoiled flight back home was the ideal way to finish off our exhausting, adventure-filled Hawaii trip.

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