What’s the best way to experience the Na Pali Coast on Kauai?
Seeing the end of Waimea Canyon, on top of Kalalau Lookout, evolve into the Na Pali Coast makes you want to jump into the waters and see the Hawaiian coastline up close and personal. Being thousands of feet above sea level in a helicopter is cool but you can’t get wet. A dangerous hike or exhausting kayak paddle are also alternatives to intimately adventuring the Na Pali Coast. However, the most bang for your buck, the most thrilling and satisfying way (without having to physically work for the view) is to experience the coast is with the Na Pali Pirates!
After our morning cup of coffee at Waimea Plantation Cottages, we jumped in our jeep and took a 5 minute (maybe even 3 minutes) drive down the road to Kikiaʻola Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha, Kauai. If you are on the opposing side of the island, the drive can take between 45min to 1 hour from Lihue International Airport (LIH) and around 1 hour 45minutes to 2 hours if you’re anything past the airport.
Coincidentally, when you sign the waiver for Na Pali Pirates, it says “DO NOT DRINK COFFEE” It was rough only sipping a full cup of coffee without being able to down two cups before our day began! Although we completely understand why these instructions were put forth, to begin with, seasickness is a thing and with unpredictable weather conditions, things could’ve got ugly on the bumpy raft.
Fully loaded with 14 people, our raft glided across waters of the west side of the Garden Isle which eventually led us to the beautiful Na Pali Coast. En route, we encountered a normal occurrence of a pod of dolphins.
I want to take a moment at mention how great our crew and captain were! Captain Jake and Daniel served us with Aloha and were both very informative about the world-famous coastline. Not only did they guide us with jokes and smiles, but educated us about ancient Hawaii and the villages that used to dot the coast.
We learned where children fought and died to become warriors, where chiefs, aka Ali’i class, were buried. We also learned about daily life and trade the Hawaiians relied upon to thrive. I really enjoyed learning about the historical significance in each area of the coast.
Between imagining how the ancients used to live and all the aquatic life, we toured sea caves which is something that not many tours (big boat tours) can actually perform. Keep in mind that visiting all the sea caves are not guaranteed to be seen as the waves and weather all play a part in maneuvering the caves.
Finally, after spending a few hours learning about the coast and gliding across the placid water (lucky us), we stopped at Nualolo, a primary snorkeling spot. Fun fact: Hawaiians used the natural reef bed and ocean currents to lure fish and feed thousands of Hawaiians up and down the coast.
Overall, we got to swim with aquatic life (Turtles, White tip reef sharks, eels, dolphins, a wide variety of fish and rays!), see and learn about one of the most beautiful coasts in the world while also having a good time picking up plastic in the Ocean. I guess you can say it was a pretty epic experience! Truly one of the greatest times we had in Kauai!
Mahalo Nui Loa Na Pali Pirates!
Who is Na Pali Pirates for?
To be brutally honest, those preferably more in shape. Riding in a bumpy raft while holding onto your camera and rope can wreak havoc on someone’s body if they aren’t ready for it. Not being physically ready also makes one more prone to injuries!
Would you recommend Na Pali Pirates?
YES YES YES!!! Definitely for the thrill seeker!
How much is the tour with Na Pali Pirates?
Adult (13 & over): $145 // Child (12 & under): $125
What is included in the Na Pali Pirates tour?
- Dry bags – 1 per couple. These bags seal tightly and will ensure your belongings stay dry
- All top-of-the-line snorkel gear is provided onboard (mask, snorkel, de-fogger, fins, floatation devices, etc.)
- Ice-cold beverages (variety of local juices, sodas, and bottled water)
- Na Pali snacks
- Freshly carved Hawaiian fruit