Travel Destinations

Monday, August 4, 2014

Touring Kauai's Na Pali Coast with Napali Catamaran

Na Pali Coast with Napali Coast Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

One of the activities we love to do in Hawaii is snorkel.  The water is warm.  The fish are colorful.  If you’re lucky you’ll get to see a turtle.  But when we visited Kauai over nine years ago we had bad luck with our snorkeling.  The water was cloudy and rough and we didn’t see many fish.  We didn’t want that to happen again, so we decided to join Napali Catamaran's snorkeling tour in hopes we would be taken to better snorkeling spots than we had found on our own.  Plus we had seen Kauai's Na Pali Coast by air and by land, and this would be a good chance to see it in a third way, by water. 

Na Pali Coast Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

A Na Pali Coast tour with Napali Catamaran isn’t just about snorkeling.  It’s also about exploring the Na Pali Coast from the water.  Since it is impossible to circumnavigate the entire island of Kauai by car, the only way to see this rugged coastline is by hiking the trails, taking to the air by helicopter, or traveling along the coast by water. 

Na Pali Coast Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

On the way to the snorkeling area there are scattered spots along the way where Napali Catamaran's captain and crew of one explain Hawaiian history and legends associated with each spot.  The rugged coastline is dotted with bare steep rock faces, lush green patches of trees and plants, and waterfalls spilling off the side and disappearing into the air.

Entrance to Sea Cave Na Pali Coast Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

One of my favorite parts of our Napali Catamaran tour was the ability to explore sea caves along the way.  The first sea cave we entered had a waterfall flowing down the front of the cave entrance.  After passing under the waterfall we were inside a dark cave that continued even deeper inland.  Once our eyes adjusted to the dark we could see how clear the water was inside the cave and could even see through the water to the sea floor.

Na Pali Coast Sea Cave Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

A second cave had an opening in the ceiling through which another waterfall poured through.  As we pulled away from the cave we could see where the waterfall started high up in the cliffs of Kauai's Na Pali Coast.  

Na Pali Coast Sea Cave Waterfall Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

Waterfall Source of Na Pali Sea Cave Waterfall Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

As we continued on we passed random sandy beaches that can only be reached by water or by hikers hiking along the 11-mile Na Pali Coast trail.  On one small beach we spotted two monk seals basking in the sun after a heavy meal.  When monk seals beach themselves they kind of look like giant brown slugs.

Na Pali Coast Monk Seals Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

We reached our snorkel destination and jumped into the water.  There was only one other boat in the area, which was nice because sometimes when you join trips such as this numerous boats all head to the same spot.  Since there was just one other boat and Napali Catamaran groups are small, it was easy to find our own spot to snorkel without having to worry about getting kicked in the face by someone else’s fins.

Na Pali Coast Snorkeling For Fish With Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii Na Pali Coast Snorkeling For Fish With Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

There were a large number of different kinds of fish, but we were really excited to see a turtle right away.  We ended up spying a few turtles slowly swimming around. We've encountered turtles while snorkeling in Hawaii before, but this was different because the turtles we saw here were all swimming around with shoals of fish following along and cleaning off their shells.  We had apparently stumbled upon a turtle spa.

Na Pali Coast Snorkeling Turtle Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

After almost an hour of snorkeling, we hopped back into the boat, had a quick lunch provided by Napali Catamaran, and then headed back to Hanalei Bay.  This time we traveled much faster without stops as the ocean becomes a little choppier as the day progresses. 

Na Pali Coast with Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

Napali Catamaran tours are four hours long and occur two times a day starting at 6:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.  They depart from Hanalei Bay on the north shore during the season that runs from approximately February through October.  During the summer Na Pali Coast boat tours are best from the north shore because the ocean is calmer in the north during summer months.  Napali Catamaran provides dry bags for guests.  You will get wet so pack your clothes in the dry bag and wear a coverup and flip flops on the boat.  Groups are small, with a maximum of sixteen passengers.

Napali Catamaran Kauai Hawaii

Thank you to Napali Catamaran for hosting us on their Na Pali Coast boat tour and making this post possible.  As always, all opinions are my own.


Travel the World: The Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii can be seen by boat on a catamaran trip where you'll explore sea caves and snorkel.

Did you enjoy this article? Want more travel stories and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox?
Get an email when we publish our next one! Just enter your email address below.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.