On our last full day on Kauai (we flew out later that evening) we did the Holo Holo Na Pali coast boat tour. There are a few different options, but we ended up picking that tour because we would get to go over to Ni’ihau.
Ni’ihau is another Hawaiian island, it’s called the Forbidden Island because nobody outside of the people who live there are allowed to go. You need a special written invitation to visit, and it’s very hard to get one.
The Holo Holo tour doesn’t land on Ni’ihau, but it does take you on a cruise around the island, and then stops for snorkeling at the crater just off the coast. The crater is supposed to be amazing to snorkel because the water is very clear, and it’s a sheltered area so there is great visibility and lots of fish.
The tour leaves from the South side of the island, and at 7:45 am so we had to leave our place at 6:30 to get there on time. We arrived a little early and milled around a bit. After check in and a speech from our captain, we were off. There were about 40 of us on the boat, but it was plenty big enough, at least at first.
It wasn’t the nicest day, it was actually kind of cloudy and windy, but the weather was quickly forgotten once we pulled out of the harbour and encountered a pod of wild Spinner dolphins. The ride to the start of the Na Pali coast was about an hour, and they chased the boat the whole way. By the time we were almost there, it was getting pretty windy, and everyone at the front of the boat was getting drenched from huge waves coming over the front.
My sister and I decided to embrace it, and went to the front to get soaked and ride out the bumps. It was really fun for awhile, but eventually one of the deckhands came to get us off the front, because the waves were getting huge and apparently we were in danger of getting catapulted off the front.
That’s when things started to get a little weird. Everyone was clustered inside or at the back of the boat to try to stay warm and dry, but then people started to get sea sick from the waves. By the time we got to the coast, about 1/4 of the people on the boat were sick. I was seasick one time on a ferry in Cozumel, when I was about 13, and it was scarring enough that I am pretty much religious about taking Gravol before going on a boat on the ocean.
Once we got to the coast we were sheltered a little bit, and we slowed down to enjoy the view (it was gorgeous), so most people started to feel better. The sun came out, and we had a delicious lunch. Unfortunately, the captain had told us at the beginning of the day that because of the wind he would make a call later about whether or not we’d be making the journey across to Ni’ihau, and I was pretty devastated when he decided we couldn’t go because too many people were sick.
But we made the best of it and cruised back down the coast, and the boat stopped for snorkeling in a little cove on Kauai instead. We didn’t end up getting in because the water was super murky, and there had been shark sightings in the area, and based on what we’d learned about sharks a few days earlier, I felt like drinking beer on the boat was the better option.
The day was basically saved for me by the crew, they were a group of local Kauai guys, and we spent the day hanging out with them, and hearing all their crazy stories about their families and life on Kauai. One of their mothers had broken into their ex-girlfriend’s house and threatened her with a knife for trying to take his kid to live on the mainland.
Kauai is so small, and everybody knows everybody else, so there were definitely some interesting tales.We ended up having a blast with them, and they let us sneak into the beer/wine stash a little early since we weren’t getting in the water.
Overall the tour itself was great, we just had bad luck with weather and with people who hadn’t been out on a boat before and didn’t know to take precautions against seasickness.
If you are going to do this tour, book it as soon as you can on your trip. When we arrived in the morning they gave everyone the option of waiting and going on a different day when the weather was better, but it was our last day so we couldn’t.
If you book it on your second or third day, you can reschedule if it’s miserable, because you will enjoy it 10x more if the weather is nice.