Adventure awaits

Your best friend has been your best friend since preschool, and on the 50th anniversary of your near life-long shenanigans, you decide to spend a week together on Kauai to celebrate. With its white sand beaches, abundant sunshine and gorgeous Koloa Landing Resort, you decide that the South Shore is the perfect playground for you two adventurers.

You have both always been a bit animal crazy, so the activity you are looking forward to most is a day trip up the Napali coast on a catamaran to snorkel and whale watch. The concierge at Koloa Landing books you onto Capt Andy’s tour and after a restful night’s sleep in your luxurious villa, and a breakfast of macadamia nut pancakes at the Holoholo Grill, you are both bright-eyed and ready to go. 

You steer your rented Jeep up the verdant, winding coastline to Port Allen in the tiny town of Ele’ele and climb aboard the classic catamaran with a handful or two of other equally eager day trippers. Your seats are positioned under the cover but are otherwise fully outdoors with a grand view of the ocean on both sides. And what a view. The Napali coast of Kauai with its soaring emerald cliffs trickling with waterfalls is the stuff of daydreams.

Playtime on the ocean

Soon into the voyage you spy spinner dolphins swimming alongside the boat just a few yards out. The crew encourages you to get as close as you’d like to the pod so you and your friend move to the railings for a better view. You lose count after twelve dolphins! You marvel at their speed and playfulness as everyone chatters with delight, pointing and snapping photos. Smaller than their bottlenose dolphin cousins, spinners have pointed beaks that help them swim quickly and elegantly. When one shoots out of the water and spins in mid-air, you can’t help but laugh. 

“What a show off!” your friend says, laughing too.


Cruising closer to the coastline you gaze up at towering cliffs intersected by tiny slivers of beach and displaying some of the tallest waterfalls you’ve ever seen. Your guides regale you with stories of Napali history and legend. Hands go up and questions are patiently answered. The boat edges into the mouth of a cave and you feel you are somewhere prehistoric. It’s no coincidence that it looks a little like Jurassic Park.

Snorkelers’ delight

Later, in the middle of the ocean, the captain cuts the engine and the boat bobs a bit to a gradual stop. Some nice snorkel gear is produced and everyone is invited to jump off the back of the catamaran into the sparkling Pacific. You and your friend take the plunge and as you swim further and further away from the boat you begin to sense the true vastness of the sea. As you snorkel below the surface, countless orange and yellow and blue fish of all shapes and sizes flash past you through shafts of sunlight. 

Catamaran Snorkeling tour

Turtles in love

Back onboard, you are drying off with a towel when the assistant captain shouts excitedly, “This is your lucky day, folks!” He points off the starboard side. “Look over this way. Something we don’t see too often:  Bonafide sea turtle romance!” About 3 yards out you see two sea turtles entwined on the water’s surface engaging in a floaty, floppy mating ritual. (It must be hard to get much privacy in the wild.)

Hump day

Earlier in the trip, the captain said how common whale sightings were this time of year. He explained that humpback whales travel a great distance to get to the warm waters of Kauai, as this is where they come each year to breed, calve, and nurse their young. But it isn’t until the return trip that you finally see a whale breaching way out in the distance on the shimmery horizon. Just as you’re squinting and pointing at the spot, two more whales glide hair-raisingly near the boat! You are too entranced to be frightened. The catamaran sails across the water in tandem with the humpbacks, and you lean over to get a closer look. As the sea sprays your face you begin to feel the tiniest connection to these whales. Though they are some of the largest mammals on earth, at that moment they almost feel within your reach.

What a trip!

Book your stay at Koloa Landing Resort and then get yourself a cruise up the unforgettable Napali Coast. Captain Andy is standing by.

— Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing Resort