Experience Magnificent Nāpali

Posted in: Environment, Things to Do

Magnificent. Stunning. Simply awesome! There are many adjectives used to describe the Nāpali Coast, and none do it justice. Viewing pictures of the coast by sea is one thing, but it’s something you have to experience for yourself. Board one of many ocean vessels and get ready to see one of Mother Nature’s most incredible creations.


Blue Dolphin Charters
Cruising along the majestic Nāpali Coast with Blue Dolphin Charters

The only company on Kaua‘i offering guaranteed dolphin sightings on their morning tours is Blue Dolphin Charters—if the captain confirms no dolphins were sighted, then guests get a complimentary ride on the same tour!

Two other factors that differentiate Blue Dolphin from other companies is the opportunity they offer customers to upgrade from snorkeling to scuba diving on two of its tours, as well as being able to accept keiki (kids) as young as 2 years old because of the vessels’ design and build.

“Our 5.5-hour Deluxe Na Pali Snorkel Tour is recommended for our families,” says Jade Casmass, Blue Dolphin’s senior reservationist. “The tour is aboard one of our custom-built 65-foot catamarans and travels far up the Nāpali Coast where guests can snorkel or dive among turtles and tropical fish. It also includes a continental breakfast and deli-style lunch. The highlights include a waterslide, snorkeling, riding the bow of the boat and the highest probability of seeing wildlife.”

For those seeking a wild ride and adventure, Casmass suggests the 5-hour Na Pali Raft Snorkel Tour aboard a 25-foot rigid hull. You’ll snorkel for an hour or so, enter multiple sea caves (weather permitting) and get up close with dolphins. Deli lunch included.

Casmass adds, “Our captains have their own style, but all have amazing knowledge of the Nāpali Coast and Kaua‘i’s history. They’re well seasoned; a few have been with us for 25-plus years.”

As senior reservationist, Casmass must have a favorite tour. “It’s the 7-hour Niihau Na Pali Snorkel Scuba Tour,” she says. “I’m in love with the snorkel and dive spot, which is between Ni‘ihau and Lehua Rock, a bird sanctuary, with lots of shearwaters and albatross soaring around. Lehua Rock is also home to a few resident Hawaiian monk seals, which we often spot while snorkeling and diving.”


The captain and most of the crew of Liko Kauai Cruises are native Hawaiians raised on Kaua‘i whose passion is the sea.

You’re invited to experience an ocean journey taking you into sea caves and past waterfalls, lush green valleys, white sand beaches and the bluest of waters home to an array of marine life.

Enjoy stops along the way for photos, videotaping and an informative narration filled with local flavor and stories that only residents know. Snorkel equipment and instruction are provided. Activities are based on weather permitting.


Na Pali Riders
Make your way through sea caves with Nā Pali Riders

Nā Pali Riders’ Owner and Captain Chris Turner is headed to the 17-mile stretch of the Nāpali coastline, the world’s second-tallest sea cliffs in the world.

Over the next 90 minutes, the boat stops to view stunning cliffs and lush valleys, dolphins and sea caves, as Turner makes his way from Hā‘ele‘ele Valley to Hā‘ena State Park. It’s stimulus overload with shades of deep, saturated colors.

“Spinner dolphins can spin a miraculous seven times in a single leap,” says Turner, “but just why they do these twirls isn’t clear.” He subscribes to the theory that they do it as a way to demonstrate their fitness and prove themselves to potential mates.

The Wai‘ahu‘akua Sea Cave, also known as the Double Door cave, is considered the best sea cave in Hawai‘i. Turner enters through the back with a view of a trickling waterfall from above into the large room. He expertly navigates a sharp left turn and a long dark “hallway” with a distant light at the end comes into view. Mind you, Turner’s not going slow through this dark passage; he’s accelerating. Soon, the zodiac enters an open area within the cave. “This is my favorite spot on the entire tour,” says Turner. “With the afternoon light shining through, the water literally glows.”

A second cave, the Honololo Sea Cave, nicknamed Pirates Cave, is guarded at its entrance by a rushing waterfall. “This is the largest of the caves with the highest ceiling, and is covered in green moss,” shares Turner.


Once home to the Native Hawaiian people, this natural coastal treasure is a guaranteed once-in-a-lifetime memory. Learn about the area’s natural history and hear its stories from knowledgeable guides who call this place home.


[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Kaua‘i]


Cruising along the majestic Nāpali Coast with Blue Dolphin Charters


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