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Kauai's south shore: Best eight-day itinerary, part 2

Spotting whales off the catamaran
Spotting whales off the catamaran
Photo by Thomas A. Wohlmut

Day 2: Catamaran tour of Na Pali coast and Niihau

Na Pali coast looking west
Photo by Thomas A. Wohlmut

The Na Pali coast in Kauai’s far north features some of the most spectacular scenery in all of the Hawaiian Islands. This region is inaccessible, except for the most intrepid of backpackers or on a helicopter tour for a few minutes only … or by boat. Yes, a helicopter tour can be thrilling, but a boat tour allows you to linger and savor one dazzling seascape after another and really be in the element. Plus there's a chance to see whales during the winter months as well as the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Verdant green razor-backed ridges rise up from the sea and soar thousands of feet overhead.

Tours depart from either the north shore or the west shore. From November through March (and possibly April and October), you’ll want a tour that originates from the west coast (and also more convenient to Poipu).

HoloHolo Charters is unique in that they also visit an off-shore islet of the “forbidden” island of Niihau for snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. The water clarity is due to the dry arid conditions on Niihau with no stream run-off into the sea. This seven-hour tour includes snorkeling gear, continental breakfast and lunch.

Caution: If seas are particularly high, the captain may forfeit the run across the channel to Niihau. And even if he does the run, winter swells can make for a wild ride back to Kauai. Use discretion if prone to seasickness; perhaps consider a shorter five-hour trip with Liko Kauai that just cruises Na Pali.

Check-in times for these trips are very early in the morning with departures before dawn. That’s why it’s best to schedule this adventure on the first full day of your vacation, if arriving from the continental Americas. Before your body clock adjusts, you’ll be waking up early in the morning.

After a long day on the ocean, treat yourself to a sumptuous, romantic dinner at Tidepools. You’ll dine by the light of tiki torches, under a thatched roof and next to a stocked freshwater lagoon.

Continue reading this itinerary with days 3 and 4.

Check out day 1 of this itinerary.

More information:

Recommended dining:

Catamaran cruising:
HoloHolo Charters
Liko Kauai Cruises

Want to learn more about Na Pali coast cruising? Check out Palm Trees and Roosters blog.

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