Alexander Howard Lonely Planet

Winding along the Na Pali (the cliffs) offers some of the most pristine, extreme views of the coast's deep, riveting pleats. This trail is without a doubt the best way to connect directly with the elements, though keep in mind that the trek – if you opt to complete the full 22-mile round-trip into the valley – is a steep, rough hike.

There are three hiking options: Keʻe Beach to Hanakapiʻai Beach, Hanakapiʻai Beach to Hanakapiʻai Falls and Hanakapiʻai Beach to Kalalau Valley. There are hunters who can do the entire trail in and out in one day, but most people will either want to opt for the Hanakapiʻai Beach or Hanakapiʻai Falls hike or bring camping gear to make it to Kalalau Beach.

The state parks office in Lihuʻe can provide a Kalalau Trail brochure with a map. Another good source sponsored by the county is Kauaʻi Explorer (www.kauaiexplorer.com). Keep in mind that even if you're not planning to camp, a permit is officially required to continue on the Kalalau Trail beyond Hanakapiʻai. Free day-use hiking permits are available from the Division of State Parks in Lihuʻe, which also issues the required camping permits for the Hanakoa (one-night maximum) and Kalalau (five-nights maximum) Valleys. You'll need ample advance time – possibly as much as six to 12 months – to get night permits.