Na Pali Coast of Kauai has unspoiled nature that is otherworldly. Its sky-high mountain peaks, raising directly from the ocean, and cascading waterfalls look ethereal. Due to the steep cliffs and the faraway location, this 15-mile coastline at the northwest of the island of Kauai remains one of the most beautiful and unspoiled in the world. One can only imagine, that 5 million years ago these mountain cliffs were hot flames that the Earth was spewing up.
“Na Pali” means high cliffs, and it’s the oldest inhabited area of the Hawaiian islands. Around 200 AD, the first Polynesians sailed here across the ocean and set foot on this emerald island. Remains of temples and fishing camps are evidence of their existence. Na Pali Coast has an abundance of natural resources. Water and fertile soil being its basic natural resource for survival allowed the ancient Hawaiians to grow taro, sweet potato, and breadfruit. Fishing was another food source. The lack of natural predators provided the ancient Hawaiian a safe and beautiful haven to flourish.
Na Pali Coast is inaccessible by motor vehicle. Hiking can take days, and helicopter tours are expensive and somewhat detached. We thought taking a ride on the ocean might be the best way to appreciate the coastline in its full glory. After looking up Na Pali Coast catamaran companies, we decided to go with Holo Holo Charters.
Holo Holo Charters offers Napali Sunset Tour on a catamaran. It was a better option for me because I easily get sea sick. Catamaran is more stable and there’s less gas odor. We received very clear instruction on where to meet and park on the day of the tour. The Holo Holo Charters office is located in a conspicuous busy street, and there is a large parking lot close by, free of charge. We walked into the office and checked in with the front desk. Inside the office, there were souvenirs and clothing items to purchase.
When it was close to the departure time, our group gathered for a briefing. Captain Drew was the one to take us on the tour. The orientation took twenty minutes, and we headed towards the dock. Conveniently, there were restrooms by the back of the store.
Holo Holo Charters catamaran was clean, wide and stable. There was no assigned seating, and we chose to sit in the back because the ride there was supposed to be more smooth with better view. Even with everyone on board, the catamaran didn’t feel crowded.
As the catamaran took off towards Na Pali Coast, towns and streets were passing by, and then people and cars started to disappear. There was a long stretch of white sand beach that was closed off for the military. On the hills, the CaptainDrew pointed to us an old sugar plantation. This part of the island used to grow sugarcane. We can still see well divided large plats of land with large farming equipment for the sugar mill. There were prominent local estates making their living by producing sugar.
But the sugar exporting business began to phase out because of cheaper sugar from South America. South American countries like Brazil had cheaper labor costs, and took over the sugar business from the Hawaiians. The Hawaiians abandoned their sugar mills and started to plant pineapples.
Soon enough, we began to see the magnificent Na Pali Coast. The most stunning group of mountain peaks – “the Cathedral” – raise their needle-like peaks from the ocean up into the sky. The mountains have curvy shape, as if they are waggling their way up. The Cathedral was lush and green, with waterfalls. Depending on how much rain this part of the island has, the waterfalls can be full or thin.
The Captain brought us close up to the opening of a cave. He said that on the windless days, he enjoys paddling his single kayak into this passageway, into the cave, and come out on the other end. The water in there was clean and pristine.
We saw a Kauai sunset on our way back. We had a little drizzle of rain during the tour, and when the sun shined on the mountains at the right moment, we saw a beautiful rainbow on top of the Cathedral, as if to to show Na Pali Coast in all its magnificent glory and to say “Aloha! Come back!”
The dinner was served on Holo Holo Charters catamaran on the way back. We had tacos, meat loaf, salad, dessert and sparkling wine. It was delicious. Captain Drew and his team helped serve and carry drinks and food, and made us feel very comfortable. The catamaran was very clean and stable. I did not feel sea sick. However, I took Dramamine before the tour just in case. Even on a nice day, the sea can still be rough.
As a bonus, towards the end of our trip, we were greeted by two Humpback whales on their way back to Alaska. I saw the tips of their tails flipping saying “Hello” to us. This had been a perfect and relaxing sight-seeing tour. What a great way to see the remote and majestic Na Pali Coast!
The ride is about 3 hours and 30 minutes. We got off the catamaran after 7 pm. Make sure to bring a jacket, because after the sunset it gets cold and windy at sea. Bring a hat and sunglasses for sun protection. And remember to take sea sick pills, if you need them, an hour before the tour, because it gets very bumpy even on a good day. Put a Na Pali Coast catamaran excursion on your must-see list when visiting Kauai. You won’t regret it!