Kauai's "breathtaking," cliff-rimmed north shore, though heavily visited, "still has a degree of 'unspoiltness' about it." A lack of drivable roads has restrained development. Sightseeing helicopters generate a bit too much noise pollution, and hiking trails can get crowded, but, in general, "this gem continues to shine."
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
“Na Pali's unique beauty is jealously guarded by state parks, local residents, and tourism companies. Unfortunately, helicopters constantly degrade the natural ambiance. They should be outlawed or required to fly at several thousand feet. That said, this is one of the planet's unique beauties and is well maintained. I recently paddled solo and saw no rubbish anywhere, but I did see monk seals and green sea turtles. A great experience.”
"The lack of drivable roads on the Na Pali coast has served it well. It has not changed dramatically since my first visit there in 1979. Backpacking has enabled the natural elements to endure."
“As long as the state of Hawaii continues to protect this area, it will remain pristine.”
"Locals work to protect this destination, but helicopters and trekking both take a toll. The local culture exists in fragile balance with tourism and the influx of snowbirds."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.