No matter where we travel, I always find something that I love about each specific destination. Which, in turn, leads to many “favorites” — favorite beach in Maui (although, for the record, there are two favorites), favorite beach in Kauai, favorite island in Thailand (although I have a lot more exploring to do), favorite fjord in Norway, favorite island in the Bahamas, you get the point.
Although I have many favorites, there is one coastline that holds the top spot for my “Favorite Place on Earth.” It’s a place overflowing with raw, natural beauty — where 4,000-foot tall, jagged, vertical cliffs tower over the bright-blue, cerulean colored waters. Emerald-green jungle covers the ‘aina (land), and ribbons of waterfall cascade down the rugged slopes. This magical place encompasses the mana of the island and is full of wonder, excitement, mystery, and intrigue.
It would be a shame to travel all the way to Kauai and skip the NaPali Coast. In fact, every time we visit Kauai we spend a day sailing along the NaPali. On our first visit back in 2009, just as the sun began to set over the Pacific, my best friend got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. (Spoiler Alert: I said YES!) 😉 A little over a year after saying our “I do’s” we traveled back to this magical coastline where we saw our very first humpback whales; we watched in awe as we saw spouts, fins, and whale tails, and the surprise of the evening occurred at sunset when two large whales breached near our boat. On our third visit a year and a half later we celebrated our third wedding anniversary as we sailed along near the Cathedrals. The day was filled with nostalgia as we were also celebrating five years to the day that Cody proposed along that very same coastline.
We’ve had a lot of wonderful and life-changing memories along this 15-mile stretch of paradise, and with a fourth trip to Kauai in the works, Cody and I were ecstatic to show off our favorite area of Kauai to our sweet family.
Excited to see whales and to spend an afternoon sailing, we departed Port Allen just after 2:00pm with high spirits and fully charged camera batteries. Our five-hour sunset dinner cruise was scheduled to take us along the Kaulakahi channel and Kauai’s entire west side, and as soon as we sailed into deeper waters, we encountered our first Alaskan Humpback whales of the day. I’ll never forget the magical feeling of seeing a 30-ton-school-bus-sized whale for the very first time, and now I had the privilege of seeing my family’s reaction to that very same moment.
As we sailed throughout their NaPali Coast playground, whales could be seen from every angle of the boat — some giving away their location as their spouts rose high against the horizon; others were rather close, showing off their tails before taking a dive and disappearing below the surface; and a few rambunctious whales put on quite the show as they breached and had a Whale-of-a-time with their aquatic, sailboat-sized, buddies.
The moment that I realized the day could not be better was when a pod of spinner dolphins appeared and swam along in the wake of our boat — I was in Hawaii, sailing out on the ocean with my husband and my family, witnessing whales and now dolphins, it was perfect! — little did I know there would be one final surprise before the night was over.
Our visit fell between two of the biggest swells to hit Hawaii in recent years and our scheduled departure went off without a hitch — or should I say mast — however, the swells were still quite large that day, which unfortunately caused two of my family members to get a little seasick half-way through the trip. The crew was exceptional in how they catered to our party, especially the ones who were generously feeding the fishes 😉 and I couldn’t have been more grateful for their hospitality. With two members down, I was filled with worry that those sickened would hate the experience, however, sickness aside, they claim that it was still one of the highlights of the trip because they saw whales and dolphins for the very first time. A HUGE thank you to the whales and dolphins for showing up and saving the day!
Hopefully when my family makes another trek to Kauai the seas will be calmer and they’ll have another chance to explore the remarkable, unspoiled, natural beauty that is the NaPali Coast. I have no doubt that Cody and I will be back on our next visit; this coastline is our place.
Have you been to the NaPali Coast? Where is “your” place?