Napali Coast by 17 miles of sea

by Andrew Stein

Napali_Coast

Lindsey and I arrive on the nature-filled island of Kauai late from a flight delay, find our airbnb apartment that we’ll be staying in for the first half of the week, venture out to a local grocery store to procure some necessities, and head to bed setting a much-too-early alarm for our first day on vacation.

Day one is spent with Napali Kayak, who claims to “challenge your body, blow your mind, and feed your soul”.  We arrive at 6am to meet our guides, get our life jackets, and sign our lives away (in case anything bad happens).  After some safety instruction and some group bonding, we hit the seas starting from Ha’ena State park for our 17-mile adventure of the Napali coast.  17 miles is no joke, but we are grateful that the wind is pushing us along today.

Soon into our journey, before we even hit the Hanakapi’ai beach, we are already greeted by two giant sea turtles, who apparently have some pretty ghastly breath – it smells a bit like sulphuric seaweed.  Along the journey we paddle in and out of coastal caves – the Waiwaipuhi Cave and the Waihuakua Cave to name a couple.  On our way into one, we pass under a waterfall, which brings us good luck… and cools us off.  The topography of these cliffs and caves and beaches is other worldly.  One cave we venture into called Koa Mano has an open ceiling after its initial entrance.  We get out swim, climb on rocks, and just rest in this small haven from the large waves of the open sea.

Speaking of large waves, occasionally some pretty large swells rolled underneath us.  The waves could be large enough that you could be right next to another kayak but not see them because they were at the bottom of a wave that we were behind.  I’m glad that I had a full dosage of motion-sickness medicine first thing in the morning, and even still, I occasionally feel a little wobbly.  The waves can be frightening from a distance but we also must be thankful as they often give us a nice push in the right direction.  A couple kayaks flip, but I’m proud to say that Lindsey and I only swim in the water when we choose to.

We made it!

We lunch at Miloli’I Beach and finish at Polihale State Park.  Polihale State park is 17 miles from our starting point, but about 90 miles (150 minutes) from our start via the road.  If the roundish island of Kauai were a clock, we begin our trip at almost 12 o’clock, we end our trip at around 11 o’clock.  The trick is that that road that circles the island only includes 55 minutes of the hour and has a break in it between those two points.  Thus, when we get picked up by the van at the end of our journey, we need to go counter-clockwise all the way back around the island to the start.  This seems inefficient, but it was a nice way to see the whole island on our first day.

After arriving home after this long day and nursing a couple missed sunscreen spots, we quickly find ourselves very tired from a long week of work and a day of travel.  We crash early, get over 11 hours sleep, and reset for another big day two.