Guest Post – Kauai Trip Report – Exploring Kauai’s North Coast

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As challenging as it was to leave the stunning St Regis Princeville Resort, we did manage to venture out and explore an array of activities available on the island.  We opted to forgo the world-class Golf and Shopping in Princeville and instead decided to connect with nature through Hiking and Kayaking.

Trip Report

  1. Introduction
  2. American Airlines Flight and Marriott Kauai Resort
  3. Exploring Lihue
  4. St Regis Princeville
  5. Exploring Kauai’s North Coast

Kalalau Trail

Let me just start by saying, this trail was treacherous! The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile hiking trail that leads from Ke’e Beach (where the road ends on the North Shore) to Kalalau Beach and back along the indescribable Na’Pali Coast.  The hikers (just two of us willing) set out from Ke’e Beach one morning.  We weren’t expecting to complete the entire trail which requires an overnight stay, but we approached the trailhead unsure how far we could go.  To give you an idea of how difficult this trail can be this time of year, they actually had a trail official asking each and every person how far they intended to hike that day.  In nearly every case, he talked the hikers out of going on their original plans and shortening their hike.  Even though we were in good shape and had experience, we were ‘talked’ into reducing our hike to the standard 2 miles in to Hanakapiai beach (only accessible via the trail) and 2 miles back out, which turned out to be a wise decision.

DSC06019Ke’e Beach – The Start of the Kalalau Trail

Hawaiian Monk SealHawaiian Monk Seal resting on Ke’e Beach

The trail was one giant mud slip and slide.  We were told the conditions are seasonal and since it was November, mud would need to be our friend. The sharp grades up and down made for an exhilarating hike.  Though to be fair, it was less of a hike and more of a strategic slipping session since almost no step was stable. One interesting note was that there were several tiny uneven bushy areas a couple feet from large rocks deemed ‘helicopter landing areas’ to fly out anyone who is seriously injured on the trail.  You would have to be one heck of a pilot to land there in windy conditions.

Lanading AreaHelicopter Landing


The risk was well worth the reward. The views from every slip (step) were stunning.  The quiet Hanakapiai beach at the turnaround point of our journey was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.  I am still convinced they filmed some of the Pirates of the Caribbean scenes there, though I am not sure how’d they bring the equipment in!  Unfortunately we lost most of our photos from an Orange Juice-Laptop incident but I am not too concerned as these images are imprinted in my memory forever.

MUDTrail Conditions

Trail ViewTrail View

Creek CrossingCreek Crossing

Hanakapiai BeachHanakapiai Beach

It was pretty funny as we returned to the pristine St Regis resort COVERED in mud and sweat from head to toe.  The doormen made every attempt to protect their beautiful lobby by wrapping us several times in bright white plush St Regis towels.

Kayaking the Wailua River

Having survived the Kulalua Trail, we went back out the next day for a guided kayak on the Wailua River and then a hike into Secret Falls for lunch and waterfall swimming.  We went with Kayak Adventures for about 70 dollars per person for the day, meals included.  Our guide was wonderful and had deep knowledge of the island of Kauai.  In comparison, this hike was a cake walk and the kayak was leisurely.  The waterfall at the end of the trail was very peaceful and spiritual.  We enjoyed a tranquil swim and our lunch.  This day trip was definitely worth the money from my perspective and was an activity we could enjoy as a family.

Final Thoughts

The world is full of beautiful beach destinations.  While I have experienced my fair share across the globe, I still have not found a beach destination that excites me more than the islands of Hawaii.  The wide range of points redemptions for both flight and hotel makes me keep wanting more.  Maui still remains my favorite island and I intend to return there next, but I believe Kauai has more raw natural beauty.  While there are so many options, I believe the St Regis Princeville is the premier resort for natural beauty in the islands of Hawaii.

Personally, this trip was a great reinforcement of the power of points and miles.  Under no other circumstances could my family of seven spread across the country afforded to fly to Kauai and enjoy over a week (in luxurious suites) at a world class resort.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at

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  1. My wife and I did the same hike back in April – from your picture it seems like the trail was much drier for us than for you. I agree that the hike is a good experience and it is really hard. I also thought the same thing about the helicopter landing spots!

  2. What an amazing trail and hike. What a bummer that you lost some of the photos. That is one of my biggest fears of traveling. I try and always upload my photos on flicker, download them on my hard drive, and keep the SD memory cards. I know that it sounds like over kill but when you see some view (like it sounds you experienced) its such as shame to not have the hard copy. Thanks for sharing your trek. Sounds tough, but amazing none the less!

  3. Awesome hike. Sounds like I would have liked the hike during the slip n slide season! I recently “snowboarded” down an active volcano and what I imagined would be a fun smooth ride, was anything but…so I could imagine hiking up a water-slide. Thanks for sharing your photos and adventures!!

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