The Na Pali Coast in Kauai is one of the most awesome sites you will ever see. It has been featured in many movies including Jurassic Park, King Kong, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. "Na Pali" means "The Cliffs" in Hawaiian.
Na Pali Coast State Park is a 22-mile stretch of volcanic cliffs. You can see the Na Pali Coast from a distance, but to see it best you need to get up close either by helicopter or boat. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.
Some people choose to hike the 11-mile long trail down the coast to the Kalalau Valley from a trailhead in the Ke'e Beach parking lot at the end of Highway 560. This hike is only for the most serious and experienced hiker. The trail is thin and the area desolate. You may want to hike the first two miles to Hanakapiai Beach. If you go beyond this beach you will need a $10.00 permit. We didn't even consider hiking the trail, but instead chose to see this spectacular coast by boat.
There are several charter companies in Kauai that will take you to the Na Pali Coast. The one you choose may depend on what kind of tour you want, or how much you want to pay. We chose HoloHolo Charters. You may find, as we did, a coupon for this charter. It saved us 25%.
Our trip was narrated and under the direction of a friendly and professional crew. If you know exactly when you will be going you can book a charter online. We reserved it a day ahead of time. You will have to make reservations. These charters fill up for a reason.
HoloHolo Charters has their office in the Eleele Shopping Center. This is off of Highway 50 before Hanapepe on Kauai's south shore. On the day you go you will check in and then drive to Port Allen Harbor. That is where the boat loads. The parking lot near the dock is not paved, but you will be able to drop off any non-mobile person closer to the boat.
HoloHolo offers several types of tours. You can choose a 7 hour Niihau and Na Pali supertour, a 5 hour Na Pali sail, or a 3.5 hour Na Pali sunset cruise. We chose the Na Pali sunset cruise which is offered nightly.
Snacks, beverages (including beer), and a pupus (appetizers) are available on board. The pupu platter was excellent. It included various breads, meats, vegitables, fruits and cheese, chicken wings and vegetarian egg rolls. This is included in the tour price. You will pay extra for other snacks and beverages. The bar is open as soon as the boat leaves the harbor.
The boat goes very fast for one its size - up to 27 miles per hour. This means you will be doing a lot of holding on if you are standing up. It will be very difficult to go to the bathroom in the first half hour, so if you drink a lot of beer just be aware that getting to the bathroom will be tricky. I was actually surprised at how fast they went, especially since the water wasn't flat as glass. I am used to boats, but if you are not be prepared for a ride. You may want to take an anti-nausea medication.
It was evident that our captain knew where dolphins might be. Of course, this isn't Disneyland and I can't promise you will see the same spectacle we saw. We were treated for quite a while to spinner dolphins swimming right by the boat. The boat stopped for us to watch them and take pictures.
Once you get a first glimpse of the Na Pali Coast you will realize how truly breathtaking it is and why it has been used as the backdrop in so many movies. You will learn about the hiking trails, the waterfalls, and about ancient Hawaiian culture. Backing into a couple of the sea caves, including one with a waterfall was an unusual experience.
Once we got to the coast and on the way back, the boat slowed down. This was when we could really enjoy the beauty of Na Pali and the sunset.
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