Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Paradise on Earth- Na Pali Coast

A beautiful sunset sail around Kauai's Na Pali coast today. Some visitors kayak the 15-mile stretch of fluted cliffs, sea caves, and scalloped beaches during the calm seas of summer; others make the trip in "extreme" rafts, outboard-powered assault craft that can surmount almost any sea. Even more take the one-hour helicopter tour to get the Jurassic Park view—Nā Pali starred in that movie, as well as in King KongSouth Pacific, and many other Hollywood fantasies. The young in heart and leg hike a harrowing 11-mile goat trail to the largest of the valleys, called Kalalau, where they often overstay their five-day camping permits by weeks or even months.All are latecomers to a geologic drama that has played out over millions of years. The Nā Pali Coast is the scarred shoulder of an ancient shield volcano that once rose more than five miles from seafloor to summit. Like all the Hawaiian islands, Kaua'i was born over a plume of magma called a hot spot.  Rain—nearly a hundred inches a year in parts of Nā Pali—carved out the deep valleys from above and draped white-plumed waterfalls over the precipices. The result: a series of plunging valleys, fluted walls, and razor-sharp ridges soaring thousands of feet from the Pacific. On big screens and small, Nā Pali has come to represent paradise on Earth.

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