Riding in an inflatable Zodiac raft and snorkeling along the Na Pali coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai is a marvelous way to spend a day on Kauai. We did a Zodiac day trip from Hanalei on a calm summer day. It was one of the best shore excursions I've ever had, and the Na Pali coastline of Kauai is best seen from the sea.
There are many shore activities that you can do on Kauai, and a Zodiac raft trip is just one of them. If you've ever been to Hawaii, you know that the one or two days per island that a cruise gives you is NOT enough to really experience the wonders of these islands. A cruise around the Hawaiian islands is much like a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea. You get just a "taste" of each port. It certainly helps you plan where you want to return for an extended visit!
Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian Island, has many gorgeous sites. There are beautiful beaches. valleys, and even a lighthouse. The best way to see the spectacular Na Pali coast is by boat. If you are on a cruise ship, you will probably get to sail along this coast and gaze at the cliffs above. If you want a more personal experience, you can hike or take a small boat. For our Na Pali experience, we decided on a Zodiac since the water was very calm. We had a perfect day, with very light seas and a bright sun. The sea conditions are very important, as we found out as we started off.
A Zodiac boat ride is not for the "light of bladder" or those with severe back problems. Even on a very calm day (such as we had), it is bumpy. Our boat captain told us we were very lucky because since it was so calm, we would be able to visit several of the sea caves along the way. For the kids among us, like my spouse, the sea cave called the "Tunnel of Terror" was a real hit. This cave had two entrances, but we didn't know it when we zipped into the cave. It was very dark, and the captain was going fast. He made a sharp right turn and we all thought we were going to hit the cave wall. Suddenly we saw another entrance/exit. A waterfall poured down on us as we flew back into the sea. It was so fun that we repeated it a couple of times! Nothing like a natural ride that can compete with Disney World!
We also visited a Na Pali coast cave that had an open top allowing the sun to shine in. The water in the cave was clear and a beautiful aquamarine. We all jumped in and swam for a while. Each of us vacationers in the boat took turns snapping pictures of others swimming. I still have a shot of Ronnie and I on my desk at work.
We followed the Na Pali coast, and the 11-mile Kalalau Trail snaked along the cliffs above us. This trail was built by the ancient Hawaiians and is a very strenuous hike. At the end of the trail is a beautiful beach where you can camp. We snorkeled off this beach and saw all types of sea life, including numerous turtles. One turtle even came up and looked at us, and posed for a picture.
If you have an extra day on Kauai, the seas are calm, and you have a good bladder and a sense of adventure, I highly recommend a Zodiac boat ride/snorkeling trip along this coast. It is some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere!
If you love the movie "South Pacific", you've seen this view of the Bali Hai mountains on the north shore of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. In the movie, Bali Hai was the island in the distance that was forbidden to the American sailors. The movie makers didn't have an island near enough (or breathtaking enough) to use, so they just used these mountains. If you visit Kauai, be sure to rent the video either before or after your visit. It is amazing how little the island has changed in the 60 years since the movie was made.
Kalalau Valley on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai
One of my favorite vistas on Kauai. Looking out over the Na Pali coast from above, near the Waimea Canyon.
Kalalau valley as seen from Kokee State Park on the island of Kauai. We hiked to this viewpoint from Waimea Canyon, a popular shore excursion for cruise passengers.
Kauai - Kilauea Lighthouse on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai
Most of us have seen lighthouses when on a cruise. Moreover, we usually think of New England or the Atlantic or Pacific coasts of the United States when we see a photo of a lighthouse. However, they can be found on coasts around the world, including in Hawaii on the island of Kauai.
Kauai's Lumahai Beach in the Hawaiian Islands
Spectacular Lumahai Beach on Kauai was used as the beach in the movie "South Pacific".
An example of one of the beautiful vistas you can see while on a cruise off the northern coast of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. This picture was made overlooking the beach. When you hike down to it, you find a wonderful sandy area.
See Na Pali Coast from a Zodiac
We had a wonderful day exploring the Na Pali coast of Kauai, visiting the sea caves and snorkeling from a Zodiac boat.
Hawaii Sea Cave on Na Pali Coast of Kauai
Sea cave seen from Zodiac boat on the Na Pali coast of Kauai.
If you take a boat trip along the Na Pali coast of Kauai and the seas are calm, you might get a chance to snorkel in one of the many sea caves along the coast.
Inside a Kauai Sea Cave
Hawaii cruise picture of the inside of a sea cave seen from a Zodiac boat along the Na Pali coast of Kauai
Kalalau Trail Beach - Hawaiian Island of Kauai
This beautiful beach is at the end of the 11-mile arduous Kalalau Trail on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We snorkeled from a Zodiac right off the beach and saw some amazing sea life--especially turtles.