Winter Swell Realities
It would be convenient if every one of our Napali Coast boat tours worked out exactly as described here on our web page, but that will never happen. We can control our staff, we can control our boats, but we’ll never be able to control Mother Nature, and the fact is that some days, the Napali Coast just isn’t available to us humans!
Picture Hawaii– the world’s most remote significantly-inhabited island chain, all alone out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Now picture Kauai—positioned as the most northwest of the main islands in that chain.
And finally, picture the Napali Coast– the most northwest coast of the most northwest island. Try to imagine the enormous force of the swell and the waves that finally break here on the Napali Coast, after having traveled unobstructed for sometimes 4,000+ miles away, from places like Alaska and Japan.
Obviously, the sheer power in those waves have shaped the Napali Coast into the unique geologic treasure that she is.
And it might sound “woo-woo” but could it be that all the pent-up planetary power in those waves is what gives the Napali Coast her mana?! It’s a lovely thought– to imagine the waves bringing Napali her magic, day after day, an endless supply.
Anyways, back on earth!
The fact is that there are days (less in summer, more in winter) when the swell is up, the wind is on, the waves are building, and adventuring on the Napali Coast isn’t reasonable, safe, or advisable for us or any Kauai boat tour company.
A couple days ago that was the case. After weeks of unseasonal, summer-like conditions, a typical winter swell started rolling in out of the north.
Our Napali Sunset Sail didn’t end up making it to Napali but hey—not all was lost!
The first first few miles out of Port Allen harbor and towards Napali were fun and adventurous with little waves and splashes here and there, but nothing major. We stopped and observed a giant pod of spinner dolphins (hundreds!) swimmin’ and spinnin’ alongside a humpback whale—quite a sight to behold!
It was obvious the swell was building as we continued north and west and some of the splashes became more like douses of salt water. The further we went, the more ummm… “adventurous” the tour was becoming. By the time we reached Polihale Beach, Captain Dave was barely making ground trying to safely (and comfortably) navigate upwind against a ten-foot swell and a strong headwind. Captain made the decision to abort mission, turn the boat around, and get to conditions where we could better enjoy ourselves.
Captain Dave turned downwind and while it was undeniably disappointing, it was also impossible to deny that conditions improved immediately. Smoother, quieter, dryer, warmer. Everyone was able to stand up, walk around, spread out and relax again.
After making sure everyone was back to living their best lives with drinks and snacks, etc., crew members Cinzia and Gabe hoisted the main sail and the jib sail. Captain Dave turned off the motors and Leila sailed by the power of the wind for about an hour, jibing several times, zig-zagging along Kauai’s west coast. We saw dozens of humpback whales (a couple full breaches) and hundreds of spinner dolphins, including a pod that swam with the bow for several minutes. Everyone who had gotten wet dried out fast in the sun, some people even stripping down to bikinis and boardshorts and getting their late-afternoon golden-hour tans on.
There was a fun group on board and special occasions included two sets of honeymooners, a couple celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary, and a birthday-boy named Zach (26 years old) who the entire boat sang to during the brownie dessert.
There was an angelic-looking sunset off Leila’s stern, and a bright, full-moon moonrise off the bow. It was special and when you combined that will all the dolphins and whales we saw and the comradery between everyone on board, the trip was definitely a worthwhile experience!
So, in the unfortunate case you get denied the Napali Coast on your Kauai boat tour, we want you to know that we have lots of backup plan options and interesting places on the south shore to explore. Despite any limitations caused by weather and ocean conditions, we’ll do everything we can within our control to make sure you have a memorable and valuable experience, no matter what
And hey, look at the bright side. If you aren’t able to experience Napali Coast on this trip, you’ll just have to come back again!