We were up early this a.m. immediately heading westward to Waimea and the departure point for the Na Pali Explorer II tour to the Na Pali Coast and an hour of snorkeling too! Fortunately, having done the recon the day before, we knew right where we were going and made great time.
We found the boat and the crew getting the boat ready for our 0930 departure. Captain Pat hailed from Sea Bright, NJ and it was really fun to chat with someone who lived where we did for three years in the early 2000s. Ironically, we also had a few mutual acquaintances (Bob, he knows your brother Matt (or he called him Matty) from Ichabod’s, now Woody’s) and was fun to chat about the area, but sad to hear some firsthand knowledge about the devastation caused by Sandy several weeks ago. And Davey was the crew-mate who was born on Kaua’i, left to go to college in Idaho of all places, and since returned to Kaua’i to live! We selected our seats and promptly at 0930 we were pulling out of the harbor.
Whale sightings were all around us, but boy, that is really hard to capture on film – somehow the whales just don’t seem to coordinate their jumps out of the ocean for us to get the GREAT shots they provide to us by merely watching the ocean as we were chugging along. We really did manage to see several whales breeching off in the distance as this is their mating and birthing time. The gestation period for the humpback whale is 51 weeks. The male and female humpbacks mate in the Hawaiian waters in the winter months and return for the birth of their young the following winter. We saw several mothers and young calves breeching together; awesome sights!
The Na Pali (means cliffs in Hawaiian) Coast epitomizes Hawaii to me! This is where natures wonder oins together, a world that amazes and tests those who choose to explore it. Other than the ocean, this is the only access to the ruggest coastline where sea cliffs, five lush valleys, waterfalls, and camping line the 15 miles stretch from Ke’e (where Steve did his first water experience without a mask) to Polihale (where we stopped at Barking Sands). The cliffs rise up to 4,000 feet in certain areas, and sea level isfound only at the four main beaches along the way. One of these beaches is where the droids were filmed walking off from a downed space ship in the movie “Star Wars”. The largest and most magnificent valley here is he Kalalau Valley (we were above this at the overlook two times; once with Steve and Linda and the second time when just the two of us returned for the pics). This is where ancient Hawaiians lived and archaeological evidence still remains. Other valleys also hold evidence of inhabited sites as Hawaiians lived in various locations along the way. Rain falls here in excess, creating an abundance of waterfalls and streams.
The Na Pali Coast State Park comprises 6,175 acres of raw land. The remaining cliffs, coastline, and valleys are either state forests or natural area reserves. Capt Pat told us two of the four beaches along the coast are banned from anyone deboarding or staying on them and are considered sacred grounds.
The unfortunate part of the tour was the time of day! As evidenced in the pictures I selected to include in the post, the lighting was horrible beyond belief. The sun was just above the coastline or cliffs and it appears to be “smokey” in the photos and this is what is called “sea smoke” or the mist from the waves crashing against the rocks along the coast – but it provides a very murky looking quality to the pictures. When we come back here again, we all said we would really like to experience a sunset tour when the sun is clearly on the western sky to provide better lighting and shadows in the pictures. Regardless of the quality of the pictures, we all felt this was one of the most stunningly beautiful sights to behold and was magical and mystical all rolled into one!
We also managed to capture a whale spouting along the shoreline and that certainly was a fun moment and then it happened! My recently charged battery (as of last night) went dead! Could not believe it! But, fortunately, Steve was also snapping pics too and we’ve been sharing our photos throughout the trip.
We pulled into the spot the tour planned on having us snorkel and it was gorgeous, but Davey dove into the waters and determined visibility was less than five feet, therefore a safety issue and we pushed on to find another spot they knew about. We finally reached our spot only to find two other tour companies there for the same reason. But we all managed to get in some fun and quality snorkeling, saw some more green sea turtles swimming around the shore line, and the highlight was seeing a school or pod of Spinner Dolphins. WOW! And no, no pictures; they were entirely too fast. But my gosh, were they ever spectacular to behold. They are often found in tropical waters and are well known for their acrobatics and aerial behaviors and they did NOT let us down. They are also some of the smallest dolphins in the species. Several of them came out of the water, front first and twisted their bodies as it ascended in the air – and then another would do the same. And as if that wasn’t fun enough to witness, the whole school came out of the water riding on top of a wave and would just ride it the whole surge. I read these dolphins can make a 2.5.5 spin in one leap and the swimming and rotational speed of the dolphin spinning underwater affects the number of spins it can do while airborne. Folks were actually clapping on board while watching these beautiful mammals! Spectacular!
Finally, it was time to head back home and we thought we should reward ourselves with one more shave ice before leaving the island and sat in the little park again thoroughly enjoying this Hawaiian delicacy and recapturing the wonderful day we all spent at sea! Hate to see it all end, and yet are all anxious to be home again!