Wednesday, August 15, 2007

17 Mile Na Pali Coast Ocean Kayak Tour

If you think that reading the subject line is hard, try doing the subject line. According to National Geographic Magazine, Jessica and I recently survived the #2 adventure in all of the United States. We have been planning to do this for a long time and even went on a couple of short kayak trips on the Hanalei and Wailua rivers for practice. Lets just say that kayaking in the ocean is a little different from kayaking on a still lake.

We read about this adventure in our beloved guidebook, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, and were always intrigued as the Na Pali Coast is known to be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the entire world. We didn't decide to actually go ahead and do it until we took the boat tour. The views were so breathtaking that we wanted to see them again and it only made sense to do it from an ocean kayak.

For those of you that are not familiar with Kauai, the Na Pali Coast stretches 17 miles along the north and northwest portion of the island. It is filled with numerous mountains, valleys and canyons so living on this portion of the island is impossible.

To prevent drowning, Jessica and I decided to go with a guided tour group. They drop you off at on the north side and pick you up when you land on the west side at Polihale. You get there at 6am and get back at 7:30pm so it's an all day event and you are plenty tired at the end.

You may notice that these pictures look like they might have come from our boat tour. The reason why is that they did come from our boat tour. We were planning on bringing our digital camera, but almost everything you bring gets wet. Even in the dry-bag, condensation can fog up the lens and destroy the camera. Knowing my luck, we decided to play it safe.

Thank God we did because the minute that we were pushed into the ocean by our guide, Jessica was smashed in the face by a huge wave. The poor girl hadn't gone more than 12 inches and she was already soaking wet. That was just the beginning . . .

While Jessica and I are not the best kayakers in the world, we are far from the worst. However, on this day, the rest of our group consisted of a canoe team from Big Island that ranked 6th in all of Hawaii. Within 5 minutes of entering the water, they were 500 yards ahead of us. We tried to keep up but this was our first time in the ocean and I wasn't exactly Mr. Smooth when it came to the steering.

Things went from bad to worse on our first break. Everyone casually jumped into the ocean for a quick dip and I attempted to do the same. After a minute or so, I tried to get back into the kayak. Big mistake. I leaned over, thought I was in, and then the entire boat flips, including Mrs. N.

As you might have guessed, Mrs. N was none too pleased. She gave me the glare of death that I am accustomed to and helped me flip the kayak back over. I grabbed my shirt that was floating in the water and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that my $150 Oakley sunglasses had broken in half.

I got back into the kayak and began the mourning process for my shades. I look up to see Mrs. N attempting to get back into the boat and . . . you guessed it, we flipped over again. We flipped 2 times in about 2 minutes and everything we had was drenched to the core. Everyone looked at us like we were some type of traveling circus act.

At that point the guides noticed that we were not the most agile team so they decided to break us up. Jessica got into the front of one of our guide's kayak. I remained in our kayak and a nice woman took Jessica's spot. We both noticed an immediate improvement. The other guide told me not to sweat it and joked that the tour had caused numerous divorces due to the constant bickering between man and wife. He speaks the truth.

We paddled for about 3 more hours. My arms and shoulders felt like someone had dropped cement blocks on them from 95 stories above. To say that we were absurdly sore would be an understatement. We finally stopped for lunch at Miloli'i Beach. They had a really good spread with fresh pineapple, sandwiches, cookies, and chips. We laid on the beach while some of the crazy canoers went on a hike. Laying in the sun, I was out like a lamp within seconds. We relaxed for about an hour and then it was showtime.

The paddling after lunch wasn't as bad since it was only 2 1/2 hours to Polihale versus the 4 hours it took us to get to Miloli'i Beach. It was fun because everyone was talking to each other and we were all telling jokes and admiring the beautiful views. We saw a few dolphins and even a monk seal laying on the shore. Sea Turtles were also common.

Finally, we saw Polihale beach. The bad news is that we saw it for about an hour. We probably had about 3 more miles to go but the beach seemed so close and yet so far away. It felt like we would never get there but when we finally did, I felt like kissing the ground. We rinsed off at the outdoor showers, jumped into the van and began our trip around the entire island, all the way back to Hanalei.

This was an amazing trip and we have memories that will last a lifetime. If you have the will and are just a little off in the head, this adventure might be for you as well . . .


Emma said...

I for one, think the views from your balcony in Sterling are just as stunning. :) Seriously though -I'm so impressed that you guys kayaked such a long way!

Prashant said...

Damn, this adventure sounds like a walk in the park compared to trying to beat me at golf. WORD.

Pete said...

Winding down here gang.... any last minute end of paradise photos or trips you can share with us "mainlanders"??

Anonymous said...

Hoa,bra you bus me up.Mahalo