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

“Look for the ghosts in the water. Our timing is just right,” Turner says with a hint of excitement.

When the afternoon summer sun sends bolts of light through the skylight-like hole, a sort-of spotlight is created. It’s then that calcium deposits rising to the water’s surface may appear, to those with active imaginations, like specters swirling about a tinted glass window. For a few minutes, I alternately watch for glimpses of phantoms below and gaze upward at the gleaming skylight waterfall and its shimmery sprays.

The ocean entrance and massive skylight of Open-Ceiling Cave.

As we continue along Napali, we watch kayaks and other small watercraft occasionally duck into rugged sea arches for a few minutes of cover and calm waters. All the while, we remain ever in awe of the breathtaking visual mosaic of still more towering waterfalls, lush valleys, secluded beaches and some of Hawai‘i’s most skyscraping sea cliffs.

Napali, which translates as “the cliffs” in Hawaiian, is believed to be about 5 million years old, a geological remnant of the volcanic eruptions and forces of nature that formed another of Kauai’s stunning natural wonders, Waimea Canyon. Wind, rain and crashing waves, over eons, slowly carved Napali’s famed, deeply-eroded slopes, valleys and accordionlike span of steep, sharp-edged ridges.

At our Haena turnaround point, we watch snorkelers explore the shoreline near Kee Beach, hikers at the start of the 11-mile, coast-winding Kalalau Trail and others enjoying the midafternoon good weather. The color of the water here? A sort of speckled azure, I surmise.

Ultimately, I elect not to ask the good captain.

Napali Riders Raft Tours
(808) 742-6331 • www.napaliriders.com

(This feature was originally published in the September/October 2013 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

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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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