Napali Coast by Air and Sea

April 22, 2014 11 Comments »

Napali Coast by helicopter

The most beautiful coastline in America – the Napali Coast of Kauai

How do you get to see the most beautiful coastline in the United States when there are no roads to get there? You’ve got 3 options – hike in, boat in, or fly in. On my recent trip to Kauai surprisingly I passed on the first option and instead visited the Napali Coast by air and sea.

Even though I’m an avid hiker, I skipped the Kalalau Trail  this time since I was traveling solo and don’t prefer to hike such a challenging hike by myself for safety reasons, but I was determined to see this magical coast line.

See the Napali Coast by Sea

I first chose to see the coast by sea and chose a morning charter.  It’s official, you can take sailing around the world off my bucket list. After I spent 4 of the 6 hours on the Holo Holo Charters boat queasy, hot, and ready to hurl. Of course this has nothing to do with the boat and everything to do with my sissy stomach. Yes, I knew I was prone to sea sickness and even had meds with me, but for some ridiculous reason I decided that I would be ok and didn’t take them before getting on the boat. The day took a turn before we even got to the Napali coast. We first stopped for some snorkeling, then we chased whales (which seemed to be in abundance in the waters off Kauai in February), and finally worked our way around the island to the famous, rugged coast. It’s quite long trip so be prepared for about a 5 hour journey overall.

Somehow I managed to keep it together enough to get some photography, but finally the seasickness took over and paralyzed me. It was pretty challenging to get photos of the coast as the boat was moving around a lot, which created some photography challenges besides the fact that I wanted to puke. Finally though I had to succumb to the sickness and just sit down and stay put and simply enjoy the fresh air and the view – even if it was bobbing up and down. Even when everyone else on the boat was excitedly taking pictures of the whales in front of the gorgeous Napali coast backdrop, I just sat in the sun with the sea breeze as my only relief trying to forget the tidal wave forming in my stomach. I hardly even remember the ride back towards our dock as it felt like it took a lifetime. But as soon as I got off the boat, my body was back to normal and hungry.

As a side note, the crew on the Holo Holo Charter was great bringing me water and providing advice – they even packed a little lunch for me as they too knew I’d be feeling better once I got to land. They were no strangers to tourist sea sickness!

See the Napali Cost by Air

Ask anyone and they say you must see Kauai by helicopter – and that explains why there are so many helicopter tours and providers to choose from on the island! I chose Jack Harter Helicopters to take me high above the island. They offered a doors off experience that I knew would be great for photography. However – know that if you are going doors off you have to have every piece of equipment someone tethered to your body in some way. That meant that the only camera I could take was my DSLR since it had a strap that secured it around my neck.

The doors off was an amazing experience – cold at times, loud, windy, but super for photography. I had visions of being on a MASH unit thanks to watching too much TV as a kid. We went around the entire island for an hour+ and had great visibility. I did take some Dramamine before getting into the helicopter as I didn’t want the same result as the boat. It worked like a charm.

Whichever way you choose to get to the Napali Coast – hiking, sea, or air – just get there. It will definitely live up to your expectations. Just remember to pack and TAKE some Dramamine!

Napali Coast 1 (2)

The Holo Holo charter started out with some snorkeling

Napali Coast 1

Military research stations mark the beginning of the Napali Coast

Napali Coast 2 (1)

View from the helicopter of a cove along the Napali Coast

Napali Coast 2 (2)

Sea view. The clouds looked like a water color painting.

Napali Coast 6

Jagged cliffs along the Napali Coast

Napali Coast 4

An close up view from the boat

helicopter napali coast

The view from the helicopter with the doors off.


Napali Coast 3 (1)

Capturing a boat along the Napali Coast while in the helicopter.

Napali Coast 2

We were lucky enough to see a number of whales along the coast in Feb.

Napali Coast 7

A boat goes as close as possible to the cove opening.

Napali Coast 8

Vibrant Napali coast!

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