Kauai - Na
Pali Ocean Rafting
The very best way to explore
Kauai's rugged Na Pali coast is on board one of our ocean rafting tours. The
scenery along the Na Pali coastline is just breathtaking. There are
sea caves and archways to explore, with numerous waterfalls falling
directly into the ocean. Sealife abounds, including spinner and
spotted dolphins, monk seals, and Hawaiian green sea turtles.
Humpback whales are often seen during the winter months. All of
these creatures are seen in their natural wild habitat!
Our rafting tours offer a huge advantage over most other companies on Kauai because of the proximity of their departure point to the Na Pali Coast. We have two different vessels that depart from the
Kikiaola small boat harbor west of Waimea, which cuts 20 minutes or
so each way on the trip to the Na Pali compared to the boats that
depart from the Port Allen Harbor on the south shore. This increases the amount of time
you have along the scenic Kona and Na Pali coasts and cuts down on
the time getting there and back. Tours operate from this west side location all year.
The large 48 foot raft seats 35 people and offers the most comfortable journey. The small 26 foot raft seats 18 people and offers the most adventureous journey (including a beach landing on days when the ocean swells are small).
For the spring / summer / early fall of 2012 we also offer tours from the north shore with a departure from Hanalei. These tours are operated on a 38' rigid hull inflatable raft called "Ocean Adventurer." This "medium sized raft" has a capacity of 28 passengers.
48 Foot Large Raft - west shore departure
Year-round daily departures. The
capacity for this vessel is 35 people and the check in is at the Kikiaola small boat harbor that is 2 miles west of Waimea. This fast and comfortable boat
offers shade and an on-board rest room, as well as a smoother ride
than the smaller raft. This vessel is small enough to maneuver
into sea caves during calm seas and is our favorite way to experience the coastline of the Na Pali. Minimum age is 5. No pregnant women, and no one with neck or back injuries permitted on the tour.
- Morning tour - 4.5 hours in length and includes snorkel gear, lunch, beverages, and a snorkel stop is typically made along the Na Pali or Kona coast.
Check-in time varies with the season but is typically 6:30am in the summertime and 8:00am in the wintertime (your email confirmation will tell you the exact check-in time for your tour date). This tour operates 7 days a week from April through September and on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from October through March. Adults $119, Children ages 5-12 $99
NPE / V
26 Foot Small Raft - west shore departure
April through September daily. The
capacity for this vessel is 16-18 people. This high speed zodiac is
the more adventurous, high-energy ride. The speed and small size
allows them to cover the nooks and crannies of the Na Pali
coastline, and go right into the sea caves (ocean conditions
permitting). They also have a permit to land at a remote beach which
is an added bonus during the summer months and during calm seas in
the fall and spring. Tours that include a beach landing are rare as there are a very limited number of permits issued by the state of Hawaii! Minimum age is 8. No pregnant women, and no one with neck or back injuries permitted on the tour.
- Morning tour - 4 to 4.5 hours in length and includes snorkel gear, lunch, beverages, and snorkeling is typically done during the beach landing along the Na Pali. Checkin is at the Kikiaola small boat harbor that is 2 miles west of Waimea. This tour operates 7 days a week April through September. Adults $139, Children ages 8-12 $99
- Afternoon tour - 4 to 4.5 hours in length and is identical to the morning tour in ammenities. This tour typically operates daily in June, July, and August. Checkin is at the Kikiaola small boat harbor that is 2 miles west of Waimea. Adults $139, Children ages 8-12 $99
NPE / V
The Na Pali Explorer morning tours do not work for cruise ship passengers. If you are on the Pride of America and overnighting in Kauai, you can do an afternoon tour or you might also consider a sunset
motor tour of the Na Pali
on the afternoon / evening of day one in port.
38 Foot Raft - north shore Hanalei departure
Minimum age is 6. No pregnant women, and no one with neck or back injuries permitted on the tour. Due to extremely limited availability we recommend reservations be made weeks prior to your arrival!
- Morning tour - 4 hours in length and includes snorkel gear, lunch, beverages. Checkin is at 8am in downtown Hanalei. This tour operates 7 days a week April through September. Adults $169, Children ages 6-12 $139
The adventure begins when you leave shore of scenic Hanalei Bay and by dingy which transfers you to the Ocean Adventurer which is anchored just offshore. Minutes after leaving the bay, the spectacular Napali Coast comes into view and you see why its dramatic cliffs and beaches have enchanted painters, authors and travelers for centuries!
As you travel down the coast, your crew and Captain entertain and educate with stories of the Hawaiians who once made this coast their home. From sea-level you really get a feel for the tremendous scale of the cliffs of the Na Pali coast. Keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles and seabirds which are often seen. Depending on the ocean conditions the day of your raft tour, you'll stop and snorkel at one of several protected and shallow areas which will be teeming with tropical fish. Fins, goggles (with corrective lenses if you need them), snorkels, and flotation aids are all provided. If you're new to snorkeling, the crew will be on-hand to provide instruction and pointers so you can get the most from your adventure. After you have a chance to snorkel and relax on the Napali Coast, a tasty lunch sandwich is served before returning to Hanalei Bay.
Ocean Adventurer was built in 2004 ... capacity for this vessel is 28 and she flies down the coastline powered by twin 225HP motors. She has two water-level entry points with dive ladders and a fresh water shower. With plenty of shade, stadium-style seating for every passenger — and the all-important enclosed marine toilet — this boat is designed for comfort as well as speed and safety. The vessel leaves from near the Hanalei Pier ... guests park in "downtown" Hanalei and are shuttled by van to the departure point.
Just in case you missed it the first time ... Due to extremely limited availability we recommend reservations be made weeks prior to your arrival!
HHC / D
The Ocean Adventurer morning tour with a Hanalei departure does not work for cruise ship passengers. The morning tour starts too early for any cruise ship passengers to make it to check in. While Pride of America stays overnight, the second day doesn't work either as you wouldn't have time to get back to the ship after your tour.
I've been on numerous
Na Pali boat tours, but a day on the water with the Na Pali
Explorer took me further along the Na Pali coast than I'd ever
been before. Their closer departure point to the Na Pali allows more
time to explore this spectacular area. Their two different rafts
allow for a choice in your adventure that you don't have with other
For people who are
considering a Na Pali adventureand are staying on the east or south sides of Kauai, I don't think the choice is between
this raft company and other raft companies ... their closer
departures make this company an absolute winner. The question is, "Which
one of their rafts is the best choice for my adventure?"
That depends on you
... if you are a die hard and a bumpy, wild ride sounds like fun to
you, then the smaller raft offers high adventure. This raft rates a
10 on the adventure scale ... its small size allows them to get into
every nook and cranny of the Na Pali coast, and even allows a beach
landing at a remote spot (weather and ocean conditions permitting).
The smaller raft lacks creature comforts ... be sure to bring lots
of sunscreen and wear a hat (one with a string that goes under your
neck so it doesn't blow away ... they don't turn around and chase
after lost hats). The smaller raft has no rest room ... when nature
calls, well, nature is your answer! But if you've got teens this is
the trip they are going to love!
The larger rafts are a
great compromise ... it allows you to have the creature comforts
like shade and an on-board rest room that you'd get on a larger
boat, but it still offers the low-to-the-water ride of a zodiac
raft. It has a smoother, cushier ride than the zodiac, but it
is still fast enough to cover the entire Na Pali coast and small
enough to get into several of the most spectacular sea caves. As a matter of fact, I believe you get to see more of the Na Pali on the larger raft. While the smaller raft is doing a beach landing, the larger raft goes further along the Na Pali coast and offers more time for exploring this incredible coastline.
There are some days
along the Na Pali, especially in the wintertime, when a huge north
swell will prevent any raft from entering any of the sea caves.
Just being close enough to witness these monster waves crashing on
the cliffs is a spectacular experience. Occasionally in the
wintertime conditions will not allow them to reach the Na
Pali. If that's the case the captain will select an alternate
destination along the south shore that is safe and also offers a
memorable day on the water. While the Na Pali is always their preferred
destination, even on days when they can't get there they guarantee
you a great time and a fun adventure. As a general rule If it is too
rough for these guys to go to the Na Pali, it's too rough for any
boats to go there.
For guests staying in the Princeville / Hanalei area, it is better to do the north shore departure ... if (and this is a BIG if) ... you are PLANNING AHEAD. There is VERY limited availability for north shore departures as the state of Hawaii and county of Kauai have greatly restricted commercial tour permits on the north shore. If you wait until you arrive on Kauai and hope to stroll down to the Hanalei pier at your leisure and hop on the next available boat, you'll be standing there a long LONG time. Every seat sells out well in advance almost every day. And keep in mind that north shore departures are only possible in the late spring, summer, and early fall due seasonal swells that hit in the wintertime. Tours that depart from the north shore are more expensive ... the shorter season means that they can't run all year and have far fewer operating days upon which to turn a profit (and everything about running a boat is expensive ... from the purchase of the vessel, to the maintenance, the fuel, the insurance, the crew, etc.)
As a resident of
Hawaii, I consider the Na Pali coastline to be the most scenic and
most sacred place in the islands. There are better places in Hawaii
to snorkel, but nothing compares with the dramatic scenery and raw
natural beauty of this wild coastline.