A Catamaran ride along the tropical Napali coast. Photos, stories, and bucket list successes.
Entering in by plane, I got my first glimpse of Napali coast, Kauai’s famous coastline.
The thick green jungles, white foamy waves, and deep blue waters are visible even from a great height through a grimy airplane window.
We stayed on the Northern side of the island, near Hanalei Bay.
Sound familiar? It’s in the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
“…lived by the sea. He frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Hanalei”
There is even a large rock formation on the edge of the bay that resembles a sleeping dragon
I can see the dragon’s outline pretty clearly, but my parents couldn’t see the resemblence.
The Catamaran service that we went with picked us up downtown and drove us to the bay’s main beach. It was a warm day, but a heavy tropical rain was coming and going in bursts, and the clouds blocked any additional warmth from coming through.
Small motorboats then picked us up four by four and brought us to the catamaran.
It was decently sized, with about 15 people in all. With my two grandmothers and grandfather, both parents, my little brother, my uncle, and myself all onboard: we made up the biggest group.
One of the captains asked all the couples on the boat how long they had been married, and my grandparents held the record, as it was their fiftieth aniversary.
“Wow!” The captain then asked them, “So tell me, what’s the key to such a long marriage?”
“Hearing loss,” said my grandpa.
The workers on the catamaran immediately lowered a deep sea fishing real into the water in the wake of the boat.
A huge rainbow suddenly stretched out in front of us in the mists, and we sped toward it, white foam trailing behind us.
I had plopped myself down on the hammock portion of the catamaran,
and was enjoying the thrill of bouncing up and down on the choppy waves.
Suddenly, there was a commotion from the back of the boat. A massive Ono fish had been snagged by the trailing leer.
40 pounds total. According to the captains, this was the biggest catch in months. I had the amazing privilege of watching the monster being wrangled in.
After about a half an hour of riding, we made it to a reef off of a section of the island that was only accessible by boat. The captains killed the motors and pulled us closer to shore.
This was my first time snorkeling, and I was pretty nervous about getting in the water. As I handed my glasses to one of my grandparents that was staying on the boat, an additional wave of panic kicked in. My world was blurry, and I worried about not being able to see in the water.
However, I had missed the opportunity to snuba (a cross between snorkling and scuba) during my last trip to Hawaii due to my sudden wave of panic, and I was not about to pass up another opportunity to see the underwater world.
I was given a pool noodle, a snorkel, and some flippers, and I shakily climbed down the steps into the cold water.
All things considered, the water was pretty warm for the pacific, and after kicking around for a few minutes, I was used to the temperature. Breathing through a tube took a bit more getting used to, and I sputtered out a few mouthfuls of salt water before getting adjusted.
Once I was finally accustomed to the unusual sensations, I enjoyed it immensely. If you haven’t already done this, make sure to use a pool noddle the next time you go snorkeling. The buoyed assistance made navigation effortless. The reef was colorful and the fish were cute.
If you’re like me and have glasses, don’t worry about visibility if you ever want to go snorkeling. The way the water bends around the goggles actually makes it very easy to see everything.
On our way back, the captains pointed out many points of interest. An ancient hula school, which used to execute students who misstepped. A grove of “walking trees,” which uproot themselves and travel toward fresh nutrients. Secret beaches only accessible by day-long hikes. Illegal “campers” extending their stay by living off the land.
We stopped by some sea caves, and the captains steered us underneath a waterfall!
The water is, of course, clear. So it’s hard to see how heavy this flow of water is. Imagine a bucket of water continuously dumping water, and that’s close to the amount of water pressure from these falls.
On our way back to Hanalei bay, one of the best possible moments happened: dolphins!
I had already been meticulously scanning the ocean for any glimpes of sea life. So far, the only creatures I had seen were schools of fish breaching the water and leaping high above the waves (don’t get me wrong, very exciting). I was hoping to see something a bit larger. An otter, a shark, a manta, or perhaps even a whale.
I was in luck. A pod of about 40 or so dolphins began to surround our boat. They were spinner dolphins, which is a smaller breed than the familiar bottle nose.
I always thought that bottle nose dolphins were a bit creepy, with elongated skull-like faces, beedy eyes, and pointy teeth. These didn’t share those characteristics. They were adorable. They were darker grey, with lighter stripes running the length of their sleek bodies. They performed all manner of flips for us, corkscrews and backflips, barrel rolls and torpedoes, and even intricate spins that I have no other words for.
They stayed with us a long while too, showing off and giving us a private performance. I was so excited, and I was “WOOO!”-ing like a drunk college student. Bucket list item complete
At the end of a long, choppy, and wet ride back to land, we all discovered that the tops of our feet were burnt to a crisp. Since we had gotten dressed at the beginning of the day with shoes on, none of us anticipated putting sunscreen on our feet.
Absolutely worth it.