It may be a grueling athletic competition, but being set against one of the world’s most breathtaking backdrops is what makes the annual Na Pali Race (Sunday, Aug. 3) so unique for everyone involved.

“It’s basically a celebration of being out on the water along the Na Pali and just this beautiful, spectacular place,” said event organizer and pro surfer Evan Valiere. “I think the community really likes it and that’s why I keep it going.”

Now in its fifth year, the Na Pali Race offers paddlers of different disciplines and skill levels a chance to test themselves along the northwest coast of Kauai, inaccessible other than by foot or boat. Starting at Haena Beach Park, stand-up paddlers, prone paddlers and one or two-person outrigger canoes will make the 17-mile trip along the Na Pali Coast and reach the finish line at Polihale State Park.

“It seems like there’s always a bunch of fires to be put out on the way to setting everything up,” Valiere said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s getting easier.”

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