Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park largely free of rubbish and squatters
On Tuesday, feral goats outnumbered campers at Kalalau Beach in this iconic, world-famous wilderness park along the Nāpali Coast of Kauaʻi. As winter nears, the number of permitted campers’ declines, as ocean swells make it both illegal and dangerous to land kayaks at the beach or to swim in from a boat.
A team of four officers from the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement flew into Kalalau yesterday to conduct a “sweep” of the beach and the valley.
Brad “Kipi” Akana, Kaua’i branch chief, reported fewer than 20 campers were contacted, and all but two had permits to be at Kalalau from the state Division of State Parks.
Officers cited the two individuals without permits for being in a closed area. They were given court dates to answer the charges.
Seven or eight years ago, officers often would cite dozens of people during their periodic sweeps of the area.
Anyone who visits Kalalau often will tell you Kalalau is a vastly different place than before. illegal campers brought in every imaginable item by boat or jet ski and established extensive, long-term camps on the beach and in the valley.
Some were charging hikers and backpackers for the luxury of not having to make the 11-mile hike back to their cars, by hauling them out by boat or jet ski.
The illegal campers used to leave behind high piles of rubbish spread across the ground. That problem is mostly gone.
Regular operations by state maintenance crews have kept the trash under control. In October, a team hauled out 820-pounds of rubbish in three helicopter sling loads. They also regularly clean composting toilet bathrooms, which were the subject of complaints from campers over the summer.
“Unfortunately, the bathrooms were not designed to handle the crush of people we see in the park during the peak visitation months,” said Curt Cottrell, Division of State Park Administrator. “We continue educating people to pack out what they pack in, as the trash clean-up operations are time and labor intensive and because they require helicopters are tremendously expensive. We would like to see the day when we no longer have to sling-load rubbish out of Kalalau.”
Feedback state officers heard from campers yesterday was glowing. Some were visiting for the first time. Others had made the arduous backpack multiple times. Universally they told officers they were floored by the scenery of towering verdant cliffs and pinnacles, aqua blue ocean water with sheets of sea spray filling the air, and streams and waterfalls, according to a Department of Land and Natural Resources press release.
“The collaborative efforts we’ve engaged in with DOCARE [Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement] and the community, as well as the post-2018 entrance restrictions to Hāʻena State Park – the gateway to the Napali Coast – have made all the difference in the world,” Cottrell said. “It truly is on its way toward becoming a wilderness park devoid of craziness and trash. We just need all visitors to respect this incredible place.”