We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

Minneapolis
Level Contributor
111 posts
36 reviews
Save Topic
Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

My husband and I leave in a week and a half and cannot wait! Thank you all to everyone to participates in this forum as I have been checking it daily and have gotten a lot of good information. I think we have a lot of wonderful things on our very loose itinerary. The only things scheduled are a photo session and dinners at the Beach House and Hukilau Lanai.

Initially we were planning on doing a Napali Coast boat excursion. I know this is one of the most recommended activities on the island. I am personally leaning towards not doing the excursion for a couple of reasons but I am afraid I will regret it if we don’t. The main reason is that I am not into snorkeling. I also would hate to lose a half day of our vacation if it is not something I am 100% sold on. If we do end up doing it, I am leaning towards a sunset cruise since that may be something that would fit my interests a bit more. I have a feeling most people will say YES DO IT, but I just want to be sure. We do plan on doing the hike to the Hanakapi’ai Falls. I would love to do the helicoptor tour of the island but my husband isn't sold on that, and it is a bit more expensive than the boat excursion. Thanks in advance.

PS I will be sure to post a trip report and reviews of our great experiences!

California
Level Contributor
9,304 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

The #1 reason to take the Na Pali boat tour is to see the beautiful Na Pali Coast not to snorkel. Not everyone snorkels; basically, it's a time for the crew to serve lunch while some snorkel, swim, or just kickback on the boat. I've done numerous boat tours and loved all but one. Strongly recommend going out from the North Shore. Now, I've never been on the helicopter tour and never plan to even though many would say this is a "must". So, to answer your question, no, a Na Pali tour isn't a must, and you'll see lots of amazing sights on your way to the falls.

Have fun!

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
3,568 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

I think you need to arm-wrestle your husband. ;-) We've done both the helicopter and Na Pali coast tours, and the helicopter was easily the more enjoyable and memorable.

Hopewell, New York
Level Contributor
69 posts
367 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

Having done both a helicopter tour and Napali cruises, I can say that they are totally different experiences. If your main concern is the stop for snorkeling you could go with an evening cruise, you won't see as much of the coast line but you will get some nice views and photo opportunities. The boat tour just gives you a more intimate feel than the helicopter IMHO, especially if you do a small boat tour.

If you do the 4 mile hike you'll get the view of the beach from the trail which is also nice, not to mention the beauty of the falls.

St. Paul, MN
Level Contributor
978 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

You definitely should see the Napali Coast, one way or another. We've enjoyed the sunset cruise on the Holo Holo Charter which does not include snorkeling.

holoholokauaiboattours.com/compare_kauai_boa…

Others have recommended Capt. Andy's tours. If you don't want to do a boat or helicopter, try a touring plane. It costs much less than a helicopter.

http://www.wingsoverkauai.com/

If you're planning on hiking to the Hanakapi’ai Falls, I hope you're in good shape, it's not an easy hike, but is probably one of the best hikes you'll every experience. Take plenty of water, and don't forget some snacks!

Edited: 16 August 2013, 16:58
Washington DC...
Level Contributor
1,972 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

I would say the Na Pali boat tour was one of the most memorable experiences we have had on any of our trips for the opportunity to see the spectacular Na Pali coast from "up close", and we also saw huge pods of about 50-75 spinner dolphins. We only snorkeled for about 5 or 10 minutes, more an opportunity to dip in the water for us, the snorkeling is certainly not the highlight. I will say we both felt seasick even though we had taken Bonine, so if you get seasick that might be something to consider, but I'm still glad we did it even though we didn't feel great for part of the ride. We also did the hike to Hanakapi'ai and the views along the hike are really spectacular too, but they are different views than the boat ride. I wouldn't say that anything is an absolute must do for everyone, but this is definitely a great memorable experience in my book.

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Tucson
Level Contributor
3,221 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

We've done both a morning tour from the north shore with snorkeling and the Southern Star sunset tour. Both were completely different, but we enjoyed both of them immensely.

The benefit of going on one of the smaller boats from the north shore in the morning is that seas are generally calmer then and, conditions permitting, the smaller boats can go into the sea caves, which is really cool. Although we enjoyed the snorkeling, as others have pointed out, that is not the main reason to do the boat tour.

The Southern Star is much larger and more luxurious and they cook a great meal right on the boat. In general, the lighting conditions seem to be better in the afternoon for photography, too. But the seas were much rougher then, especially on our way to the Na Pali Coast. It takes much longer to get to and from the Na Pali coast than the north shore tours.

To answer your question, a boat tour, like any other excursion on Kauai, is not a "must-do". In fact, although we have done many of them in the past, we rarely do any paid excursions any more in Kauai. There are so many great things to do that cost little or nothing. But, especially since your husband isn't keen on a helicopter tour, if I were to pick just one paid excursion, it would be one of the boat tours.

Santa Rosa...
Level Contributor
16,331 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

This isn't a "snorkel tour". The snorkeling is secondary and only to give people something to do while they stop the boat to prepare lunch. At least half of the group doesn't even go in the water. Instead, they kick back, take photos, etc.

Snorkeling isn't the reason to take the tour anyway. It's mainly a sightseeing cruise of the Napali and yes, I believe it shouildn't be missed. You can see it via helicopter too but it pales next to being up close to from the water viewpoint.

The snorkel / lunch stop is only about 30-45 minutes which is about the same length of time that this tour is longer than the dinner cruises. So switching to the dinner cruise really saves you nothing. On top of it, the water is choppier in the later afternoon. So if that's going to bother you then stay with the morning cruise.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
37,939 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

I finally did the Napali coast trip last summer after a few other trips to Kauai . . . I am so glad I did! I am not sure I would do a helicopter trip - kind of chicken about that, but the boat trip was spectacular. Do you have to do it? No - you don't have to do anything, but it is an amazing trip and nothing quite replicates it. So if you like being on the water in a boat surrounded by some incredible scenery, do it! And if you don't do it this time, plan on it for your next Kauai vacation. :)

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
3,601 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

We just returned from Kauai and the Captain Sundown 6 hour tour leaving from Hanalei was the best way we've ever done to see the coast. We've hiked and done other boat trips. Won't helicopter but that's for another forum. You certainly don't have to snorkel and its not that great anyway. But the trip and Captain Larry are great. He knows so much about the island as he is 2nd generation and very interested in the culture, ecology, biology, traditions, folklore. I tried to stand in the back with him most of the time just to listen and learn.

Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
3,568 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Is the Napali Coast boat excusrsion a must?

Adding to my earlier post, if we do the boat excursion again, I think it'll be on a sailing vessel. We previously went with Na Pali Catamaran, and while we enjoyed it, the experience was little different from any other sightseeing tour, including repeated reminders to tip the captain and crew, except that it was on a boat. On a sailing vessel, I'd think you'd at least have the opportunity to move around, whereas on Na Pali Catamaran, it's a small boat, and there were enough people that we pretty much had to stay in/near the same seat.

Edited: 16 August 2013, 19:09