Nā Pali Coast: Three Things That Make Kauai's Nā Pali Coast (and Na Pali Riders) a World Class Experience

Posted in: Environment, People, Things to Do


According to Na Pali Riders Captain Chris Turner—known to his guests as Captain Chris—there are three attractions on the Nā Pali Coast that make it special: Caves, cliffs and marine life.

The number one attraction is the spectacular sea caves. The dramatic arches and caves are lit up by summer’s brilliant sun rays, lighting the crystal clear water into shades of electric blue. The caves were formed by the relentless pounding of the winter Hawaiian surf, sometimes reaching 40 feet in height.

Sea Cave
One of the spectacular sea caves you can see on Na Pali Riders' tours

In the summer months, the Nā Pali Coast surf subsides and sea caves may be safely accessed by boat and kayak. Na Pali Riders uses a 30-foot Zodiac rigid hull, inflatable raft to safely explore the sea caves.

Number two on Captain Chris’ list is the cliffs. “Nā Pali” translates as “The Cliffs” and these are the second highest sea cliffs in the world after those on the neighboring island of Moloka‘i.

From the pillars on Kalalau Beach that form the Cathedrals, to the guardians next to Kalalau Valley that resemble the Great Pyramids, the Nā Pali’s cliffs are a highlight of any Hawaiian vacation. The color chart is also unique and rare. There is every imaginable shade of green, from the spring-fed hanging garden cliffs to the hidden waterfall valleys. The greens are contrasted by yellow of grass and bright red iron ore cliffs, and to the west is the forbidding black and gray lava. The flora on the extreme east receives more than 100 inches of rain a year, while the desert environment on the west gets less than 20.

The Nā Pali Coast is a breeding ground for spinner dolphins during the summer

Last but not least is the marine life. Summertime is dolphin time, when the placid west side of Nā Pali becomes a breeding ground for spinner dolphins. It’s not unusual to see 200 to 300 dolphins frolicking in the shallow waters. The snorkeling is tremendous here, and the dolphins have a way of taking away all your stress. You might find yourself face to face with the resident green sea turtles, or become one with schools of colorful fish.

Wintertime is Captain Chris’ favorite, though. That’s when migrating Humpback whales descend on the Nā Pali Coast. The breaching whales put on a show you won’t soon forget.

Humpback Whale
Humpback whale breaching off of the Nā Pali Coast

Captain Chris Turner of Na Pali Riders has made it his life’s work to entertain guests in one of the world’s most amazing places. No trip to Kauaʻi is complete without seeing this magnificent piece of Mother Nature.

For guest information, go to

Continue scrolling down to view a few more photos, and then visit their photo gallery for even more jaw-dropping shots!

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One of the spectacular sea caves you can see on Na Pali Riders' tours


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