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Nifty Shades of Blue: Raft Riding Kauai's Napali Coast

Turner and his crew warn passengers that there’s no guarantee all their belongings will stay dry on Napali Riders’ 30-foot adventure boat, dubbed “Seabiscuit,” as it bounces and bounds along the coastline. On a bright, beautiful morning like the one we encountered, however, my friend concluded the risk was worth a roll of the dice. Light easterly breezes from Kauai’s closest neighboring island, Ni‘ihau, were calming offshore waters, and early summer sunlight from the east was serving up crisp and clear views.

As our tour left Waimea’s Kikiaola Harbor and headed out to sea, we settled into our seats. Turner cranked up the Zodiac’s engine speed, courtesy of twin 250-horsepower outboards.

During our excursion from west side Waimea to north shore Haena and back that day, the raft’s quick bursts of acceleration caught passengers off-guard more than a few times. For me, a bit of fumbling to find a handhold while we zipped over a few thumping waves quickly became part of the fun.

A waterfall tumbles from a skylight-like hole in Waiahuakua Sea Cave. Photo: David Croxford for HAWAII Magazine.

After our pause to visit with the dolphin pod, in waters just off Polihale Beach Park, on Napali’s westernmost end, our captain steers us toward a series of sea caves. The first is a hollowed-out, vertical lava tube called Open-Ceiling Cave, aptly named for its huge, nature-crafted skylight. As we float into its stone-cooled shade, Turner nods to the glow of the water.

“Electric blue,” he says, again nailing the shade of sunlight-fueled ocean blue reflecting off  the cave’s white-sand bottom.

Further down the coast, heading eastward, we glide into one of the world’s longest sea caves. Waiahuakua Sea Cave, also known as Double-Door Cave, is 1,155 feet long and horseshoe-shaped. As we enter through the cave’s “back door,” daylight disappears into a spooky blackness until the raft rounds a curve. From here, we spot a slim waterfall gushing through a hole in the cave’s ceiling.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
The Daytrippers: A day hike on Kauai's Napali Coast.
Going Coastal: Rafting Maui's Kanaio Coast and Molokini Islet
Kauai’s Napali Coast trail and Kalalau Valley closing for two months, Sept. 7

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