We had booked a helicopter tour, but Manina felt uneasy about it after hearing stories from her friend Hannah Stayner, who had thrown up several times during the hour-long flight. So instead we looked around for some boat charters for a Na Pali coast tour. We eventually chose Catamaran Kahanu because it wasn’t a booze cruise, and it was a smaller boat with fewer people.
The boat was captained by a surly Kauai native captain who said “Hold on to the rails!” more than anything else in the entire trip.
As we headed out along Polihale beach the captain pointed out a couple whales way out in the distance. I think I saw the spray maybe once.
Then we came along a pod of porpoises. They swam right along the bow of the boat, and the captain invited one of the ladies to lay down to look the porpoises eye-to-eye. It was a cool experience.
A few minutes later as we approached the Na Pali coast we suddenly veered out toward the ocean and the captain cut the throttle. He pointed out a pair of turtles getting busy in the ocean, saying we needed to leave them alone for the good for their species.
The Na Pali coast was very impressive from the water. The seas were very calm for a winter day, so we were able to get really close.
It was really cool to see the cliffs, sea caves, arches and remote beaches that are at the other end of the Kalalau trail which we’d hiked several days before.
On the return trip back to Port Allen we had quite an experience.
The captain suddenly cut the throttle and pointed out a momma, baby, and bodyguard humpback whales in close to shore. Literally right off the bow of our boat. At one point, I could have taken a running jump off the boat and landed on a humpback whale. They were that close. They also had a couple bottlenose dolphins with them as well.
It was an amazing experience. We watched them for several minutes. The captain explained that sometimes sharks will attack the calves, and the momma and bodyguard whales will shepherd the calf into very shallow waters for protection. The bigger whales can lay on the sea floor and surround the calf, creating a barrier from any attacking sharks.
The captain was so excited that he called his mother from his cell phone to explain what was happening. No joke. Captain Kahanu is a native Kauaiian who has done this tour thousands of times and he’s calling his mom to tell her what is going on.
We also stopped for lunch and to do some snorkeling, but it wasn’t very impressive, especially after our awesome humpback whale encounter. The water was pretty murky. It was probably better in the morning when the other boats were doing it. But, seeing the humpback whales made it all worth it.
Overall, it was a great day on the water. Manina cried; she said it was one of the coolest experiences of her life.