Napali Coast State Wilderness Park has long been a highlight for visitors to Kauai. The rugged preserved area features breathtaking vistas, 4,000-foot-tall sea cliffs and towering waterfalls, not to mention access to secluded sandy beaches.
Built in the 1800s, the Kalalau Trail in Napali Coast State Park is on the bucket list for avid hikers and lovers of the Garden Isle alike. The 11-mile, out-and-back trek crosses five valleys and ends at Kalalau Beach.
But today, almost a year after record rainfall in April 2018 caused damaging floods on Kauai's north coast, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park (including the Kalalau Trail) and the adjacent Haena State Park remain closed indefinitely for repairs. Until workers get into the park to assess damage, repair trails and ensure public safety, the popular trail and park will be off limits.
The rest of Kauai, however, including the north coast town of Hanalei, is open for business, and there are still plenty of activities for thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Many visitors to the island see Waimea Canyon by helicopter or stop at a scenic vista, but Waimea Canyon State Park offers a bounty for hikers and nature lovers. Explore the 14-mile gorge via the Kukui Trail, which drops 2,000 feet in elevation to the canyon floor, or the Iliau Nature Loop Trail, tracing the western rim. On a clear day, you can see Niihau Island off Kauai's southwestern shore.
Kauai is the only island in Hawaii with navigable rivers, and Wailua River State Park is an ideal place to put in for a kayak trip to the enchanting Fern Grotto, where emerald-green plants hang from a rock cavern. Guided tours are offered that take visitors 2 miles upriver before taking a break to hike to a 120-foot waterfall.
While Napali Coast State Park is currently closed to land access, that doesn't mean you can't explore the picturesque 17-mile coast by boat or kayak. Sea kayak tours are available, as well as half-day boat tours that take participants from the island's south shore up along the west coast to explore Napali's cliffs and hidden beaches. Along the way, guests pass waterfalls and sea caves and are often visited by pods of dolphins, seals and other sea life.
In addition to the parks, Kauai is home to a plethora of adventure activities. There's nothing like a sweeping bird's-eye view to help appreciate the Garden Isle's natural splendor, and there are multiple long zipline courses on the island. Koloa Zipline's longest single run is a half-mile long, and the full 1.6-mile course takes more than three hours to complete. Book a sunset zipline tour for ultimate jaw-dropping vistas. On the north coast, Princeville Ranch boasts a nine-zipline course with a swinging suspension bridge. Riders soar above a working cattle ranch and dense tropical forest. There is a break during the tour when participants can cool off at a swimming hole beside a waterfall before mustering the courage to leap from a 30-foot tower for the final, 1,200-foot zipline.
Hiking may bring a sense of accomplishment, and burning calves, but you can cover more ground on four wheels. For two decades, Kipu Ranch has welcomed off-road riders to the working cattle ranch founded in 1872. The tours lead guests to the top of Mount Hapu and to the setting for several Kauai-made films, including "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "The Descendants." Alternatively, Kauai ATV on the south shore starts off-roading tours close to the Old Sugar Mill of Koloa before taking a path along the Kahili Ridge to a waterfall. The company maintains 23 miles of trails, and the tours also pass through historical plantations, verdant valleys, and other movie sites.