Lost in paradise – 6 days on Kauai and the Napali Coast Trail

by Jakob Horvat, September 28th 2017, Kauai/Hawaii
My trip to Kauai was a great gift I gave to myself. I felt the need to disconnect from the world for a couple of days and go on an adventure all alone. What unfolded within the next couple of days, was a date with nature and its mind blowing beauty. I found inner peace by being in the moment and embracing life in its purest and simplest way.

I landed in Kauai’s capital Lihue with no plans. but with some loose ideas. Amongst them: hiking the Napali Coast Trail, hitchhiking around the island and camping on the most secluded spots I could find. My first encounter on the airport was rather questionable. I asked a random lady in her car for a ride. She just hugged a man goodbye and seemed friendly, so I tried. Her direction was not mine, we wished each other good days and off she went. She was already around the corner, when the man – a local Hawaiian in his fifties – was suddenly standing next to me. He looked at me with a serious expression.

Man: “What do you want from her?”
Me: “I just tried to catch a ride into town, as the bus goes not until in an hour.”
Man: “Take a taxi!”
Me: “No, I prefer hitchhiking, but thanks.”
Man: “Not with my daughter. That’s for sure!”
Me: “Well, obviously not.”
Man: “Do you hear me?”

I heard him. “All good, man”, I tried to calm him down. When a car stopped to pick him up. He got in and disappeared in anger. Afraid of the world.

I took a bus to Walmart, bought some water purification tablets (crucial!) and filled up my backpack with supplies for the week:

  • 5x tuna in water pouch
  • bread roll in binge size
  • cheese
  • dried fruits & nuts
  • bag of carrots
  • protein bars
  • fig newtons
  • bananas
  • water

What else was in and on my backpack?

  • sleeping bag
  • 2 person tent
  • yoga mat
  • the coolest water bottle on the planet (keeps water cold for hours)
  • travel size guitar
  • headlamp, swiss army knife and lighter
  • e-Reader
  • travel towel
  • two boardshorts, two tanktops and one t-shirt
  • battery pack
  • Sony DSC RX-100 compact camera
  • first aid kit
  • iPhone 6 without a sim card (for music and taking notes)

I met a lady, who offered me a ride up the coast – right to the very secluded Papaa beach. A place I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t hitchhiking. I was the only person there. In five nights I fell asleep in front of five different bonfires on four different beaches. I watched the stars for hours as the never ending waves rolled in and crashed on the shore. I practiced the guitar, slowly coming to a level where I can play some first songs. The spectacular beauty of Kauai blew my mind.

Join me on this adventure of mine:

Kauai has strict rules for camping

One needs county permits for county campgrounds (which are easy to get) and state permits for state campgrounds (which are hard – for spontanous travelers like me almost impossible – to get). People apply for these permits one year in advance – and often don’t even use them as their plans change. However, after talking to locals and lifeguards, I decided to take the risk of being caught and fined and hike in without a camping permit. I don’t want to encourage you to do the same, but for me personally it felt wrong not to go on this adventure due to bureaucratic issues. It worked out perfectly fine.

Hiking the 22-mile Napali Coast Trail was the most epic hike I’ve ever done – and a challenging one, that brought me to my limits. Seriously, I was literally close to the edge. Panic arose, I lost the trail, got stuck on a steep slope with a scary drop-off and the red sandy ground getting loose under my sketchy and most inappropriate sneakers, could neither go back nor forth. I got to know fear on a new level. And I’m incredibly grateful for that experience.

Life is not eternal and the most respectful thing we can do to ourselves is to live it. To the fullest!

Rides hitched: 6
Beaches found: 4
Miles hiked: 27
Fell asleep in front of a bonfire: 5
Number of fish for free: 5
Money spent: 277 $ for flights, 100$ for food & supplies, 15 $ for camping permits

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