Milolii Beach - Na Pali Coast Magazine
Milolii beach is a favorite camping spot for kayakers during spring and late summer. Earlier, the huge and relentless winter waves close the door to Na pali, even to the diehard tow-in surfers looking for one more challenge. But, now the vibrant sun lights up and warms Milolii’s lonely and previously winter shaded beach. The cliffs brighten with color, showing off bright red stains contrasting with stark black and gray, and, notably with the lime-green of the mossy springs that seep through the rocks. The feral goats now abandon the beach for the high cliffs to avoid the campers and the sport hunters, coming from above. Introduced by sailors of long ago, these goats are now Na Pali’s lawnmowers, eating down the pili grass and any wild taro they find, even on the ancient remains of the fishing heiaus (temples).
Milolii is a small valley that soon becomes a narrow ravine between dry, 1500 foot walls. It gets less than a quarter the rainfall of rain-soaked Kalalau, yet its stream flows year round It is the last of the valleys having perennial water. This was made possible by a human settlement that likely persisted here for hundreds of years. Besides the life-giving water, the stream provided native shrimp and o‘opu gobys, the latter a fish remarkabe for its ventral sucker that enables climbing waterfalls. These animals spend their very early life in the sea but soon ascend and colonize the mountain streams. The Milolii people also irrigated taro on the backshore flats behind the beach, and of course fished the extensive reef, whose bounty is revealed even today by the rich shell collecting it offers.
With the coming of summer, green sea turtles that had taken to the beach to avoid the tiger sharks hunting the murky wave-stirred shoreline, now move back out to the calm clear waters of the reef to feed. But the endangered monk seal, when present, is there year round sleeping on the beach digesting its belly full of fish—and indifferent to the presence of any people. Similar to when a light is switched on at a surprise party, the summer beach season begins at once with the arrival of the kayakers, some on guided tours, others private, and many staying to camp on the beach. From a distance, the colorful kayaks scattered against the stark white sand appear like crayola crayons spilled by forgetful kids. For the diehards who have also camped at Kalalau, the beach at Milolii, with its warm and dry sagey air, is a welcome respite—a place to finally dry out themselves and their gear.
Unlike Kalalau, there is no connecting hiking trail into Milolii. It is accessible only by small boat or kayak, and the narrow channel through the reef is especially tricky to navigate when the tradewinds blow strong. The risk of being shipwrecked here might appeal to some romantics, but if actually realized, would surely be a very bad dream come true.
WHAT TO EXPECT at MILOLII BEACH
- At one time, an important Hawaiian settlement, Miloli’i beach is now a shell-hunters paradise, and one of the more popular stops along the Na Pali for kayakers. A state permit is mandatory for camping here.
- From high above, the Miloli’i Ridge Trail starts at Koke’e and provides stunning views of the two-mile valley with its stream and ancient heiau.