Our tenth day in Hawaii was the most memorable with a trip up the awe-inducing Nā Pali coast of Kauai. Parts of Nā Pali are only accessible by boat though some trails and roads reach this unique area. You may be familiar with the coast without knowing it since the almost prehistoric look of its cliffs and valleys have been featured in films like King Kong. It is far more inspiring in person and we signed on with the leading boat tour outfit for the coast, Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures. We took one of the company’s custom 65′ Star Class luxury catamarans for the tour of a lifetime. Nā Pali is one of the true wonders of the Pacific with plentiful sea creatures and wondrous cliffs.
We arrived at Captain Andy’s at 7:15 for an 8:00 am launch. They had muffins, coffee, and other refreshments waiting at Port Allen before we got on to the catamaran. Given the universal praise for the company on sites like Trip Advisor, I was not surprised by the extraordinary day spent sailing and snorkeling. I cannot recommend Captain Andy’s more highly. The full day is pricey but worth it. If you are to splurge on one thing, this would be it. I would forego the Luau any day for this experience. The tour includes breakfast (including remarkably good cornbread breakfast sandwiches (both sausage and vegetarian) as well as a lunch cooked on the ship by a great chef who made burgers, cheeseburgers, and grilled chicken with various sides dishes. The lunch was really good and followed by an open bar and fresh cookies from the galley. The large crew never stops chatting and assisting the guests, including knowledgable descriptions of the wildlife, history, and geology of the island. They give short lessons on snorkeling and have all of the equipment on board. It is worth every cent for the indelible memories of this tour.
Unfortunately, this trip can be challenging for those prone to seasickness. My wife and three kids took Bonine (similar to Dramamine) but still got seasick to varying degrees. The kids however recovered during the trip and still enjoyed the trip.
The Nā Pali coast itself extends southwest from Keʻe Beach to Polihale State Park. We saw it all as well sailed and motored along the cliffs reaching as high as 4000 feet. Polynesian navigators settled the areas around 1200 AD — followed by Tahitians until the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778. It is now preserved lovingly by the government and locals.
We saw many Spinner dolphin and green turtles along the route to the snorkeling area. There were also hundreds of flying fish and jumping needle fish near the boat. While snorkeling, we sawBlack Durgon,Moorish idol, Blue-fin trevally, Yellow tang, triggerfish, and parrotfish. We swam though huge schools of Brassy chubs. We also snorkeled around two huge sea turtles (trying to maintain ten feet in the strong currents).
The pictures do not do this place justice but you can certainly capture some of its majesty. Indeed, a couple of shots with the sun created a particularly otherworldly feel to the place:
The other pictures offer glimpses into the deep valleys, ocean caves, and waterfalls of the Nā Pali coast. I truly hope readers can find a way here. Even for those of us who regularly do eco-tourism, this place is truly unique and profoundly moving.