His real name is Kaua’iikimaikalani (meaning little Kaua’i from the heavens), but when you take a tour on Kauai Sea Tours’ 60-foot Lucky Lady sailboat, custom designed for the Napali Coast, you can just call him “Captain Kaua’i”.
“I come from a long line of fisherman and boat people on my father’s side,” he says. “Some were captains of their own boats. I grew up hearing stories of them crossing the Ka’ie’ie Channel to Oahu. I was raised around the ocean.”
“I grew up with my Aunty Sabra, who helped form the ‘Napali Ohana’, a conservation group that is restoring the historic Nualolo Kai site. I used to think, ‘how cool would it be to be a Captain someday telling stories about the place I grew up?’.”
For ten years Kaua’iiki has been sharing his intimate knowledge of the Napali and Kauai coastline with Kauai Sea Tours guests. “I love seeing people from around the world enjoying the awesome beauty of my home, and engaging them in the history and legends of our ancestors. It’s particularly gratifying to have people re-join me on tours year after year.”
What’s the coolest thing you’ve witnessed on a tour?
“The most beautiful moments are the proposals. I feel blessed to have played a small role in making them special. I clearly remember every one of them, from in front of a remote waterfall, to perfect evenings at sunset, to a beautiful day surrounded by dolphins.”
Do you have a favorite memory involving the marine life?
“A couple stand out. Once we were snorkeling at Olokele’s, a remote west side Kaua’i Sea Tours destination, when all at once, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins and manta rays converged on our guests and just swam around us. Another time, out of nowhere, two full-grown humpback whales breached 15 yards from the boat. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”
How do you spend your time outside of work?
“Right now I’m getting ready to participate in this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival, which is like the ‘Hawaiian Super Bowl’ of hula. I descend from a long line of hula dancers on my mother’s (Akaiona) side. We can trace our hula roots for 300 years. But I never thought I would make the cut! When my Kumu told me I would be representing Kaua’i I was shocked.” The Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina’ala will be the only Halau representing the island of Kaua’I this year.
“My other passion is the restoration of the Nomilu Fish Pond. It is believed to be the birthplace of the first Hawaiians that migrated here from the Marquesas Islands.”
“Polynesians have been living off of fish ponds for thousands of years. Typically they would take an area of shallow reef and line it with lava rocks. When the tide went out the fish would be trapped. Nomilu Fish Pond is unique in that it is set in a cinder pit; an old crater. It is the only fish pond that is located inland in an extinct volcanic cinder cone. It’s a saltwater pond with natural springs, but the ocean tides circulate the water.”
“The pond was damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The opening was got closed off preventing the “auwai” from circulating the water. Four years ago our family rebuilt the opening to get the flow of water moving again. Now the fish pond is managed by my family on my father’s side (Palama).”
“We’ve created a business, Kaua’I Sea Farms, and in April will be harvesting clams, oysters and mullets. It will be the first harvest in 28 years, and the catch will be going to famed restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi.”
Wow. That’s incredible. Why did you choose Kaua’i Sea Tours?
“Everyone at Kaua’i Sea Tours is allowed to bring their personalities into the way they conduct their tour. We are all friends and we hang out after work. People can feel that there is a deeper connection here. From captain to crew to maintenance to the sales and marketing team, we are all one.”
And what do you hope guests leave with in terms of education and inspiration?“I hope that they leave with the knowledge that Hawaii is not only beautiful beaches and scenery but a beautiful culture being passed down from generation to generation. I hope I inspire people to learn more about their own culture and take pride in where they are from and what they do.”
To book a Captain Kauai led Kauai Sea Tour go to kauaiseatours.com or better yet, call (808) 335-5309.