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Kayaking Na Pali Coast in June -- how hard?

Kayaking Na Pali Coast in June -- how hard?

Old Oct 7, 09, 10:12 am
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Kayaking Na Pali Coast in June -- how hard?

Fiance and I are somewhat adventurous and in very good shape. I'm very comfortable in the water, she is somewhat comfortable. We want to see the Na Pali coast and not that crazy about a helicopter tour (although that is what we'll do if no kayaking).

Want to do the one day kayak.

How hard is this?
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Old Oct 7, 09, 4:28 pm
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If it's the one I'm thinking off (kayak all the way), VERY HARD. So hard, in fact, that if the guide even senses you won't be able to handle the trip, they leave you behind on shore without so much as a hint of dismay.

The operator is very strict about kayaking ability, fitness levels and resistance to sea-sickness because they don't want to have to call a rescue boat or end the trip early because one customer has a problem.

The helicopter tour is not your only option - why not sail with Capt. Andy instead?
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Old Oct 7, 09, 5:57 pm
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Another option would be considering the backpack/hike down the coast. The whole thing is quite strenuous but is a good challenge. Otherwise, there are shorter segments of it that do not require backpacking gear.
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Old Oct 7, 09, 6:59 pm
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
If it's the one I'm thinking off (kayak all the way), VERY HARD. So hard, in fact, that if the guide even senses you won't be able to handle the trip, they leave you behind on shore without so much as a hint of dismay.

The operator is very strict about kayaking ability, fitness levels and resistance to sea-sickness because they don't want to have to call a rescue boat or end the trip early because one customer has a problem.

The helicopter tour is not your only option - why not sail with Capt. Andy instead?
I second this - it's a catamaran. I prefer Blue Dolphin (better food and drinks IMHO), but both are good. They both do snorkel cruises, but if you want to see some real beauty, take the sunset dinner cruise - balancing your food and drink without losing it is enough of a workout. It can be very rough and can last 5 hours plus. They stop to watch whales and dolphins or anything of interest. You will see much more from this vantage point than from the hike (which is also pretty spectacular).
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Old Oct 8, 09, 2:13 am
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If your heart is set on a kayak trip along the Na Pali, I'd certainly do a lot more research than just the FT Hawaii forum.

Google some forums dedicated to hiking or kayaking and get additional opinions.

I was considering it for myself, my wife and my 2 children last summer. (my wife and I compete in Ironman triathlons, the kids are just normal kids ).

That we didn't do it was more a function of limited time and certainly not due to any dire warnings. Still may try it one summer.

That said, any waterman will tell you that ocean conditions can vary, even in summer, so respect the ocean and be prepared for anything it throws at you.

Good luck and post here with whatever you learn and decide.

Aloha,
Ted
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Old Oct 17, 09, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
If it's the one I'm thinking off (kayak all the way), VERY HARD. So hard, in fact, that if the guide even senses you won't be able to handle the trip, they leave you behind on shore without so much as a hint of dismay.
Hogwash!!! Did you HEAR this or did you actually WITNESS it?!?!
To ask people to respect the ocean and not get in over their heads is one thing. But to spread conjectures to dissuade others...

I actually DID the trip with Kayak Kauai back in June 2006. If you saw me now and even back then, you'd probably be able to come up with a good antonym for physical fitness. 5'11" 200+ lbs and no visible evidence of muscles. But I have an adventurous spirit underneath while still valuing my life--not a daredevil. I would also venture that a good portion of our group looked as physically unfit as me.

One of the young male honeymooners got seasick en-route, and he was not left stranded on the shore (not many shorelines anyway). As I was in a double kayak with one of the guides, they switched me out, so that I had to paddle his new wife for the majority of the trip. Not much of a paddler but she was a good conversationalist at least. Her poor guy sat motionless like a miserable sack of potatoes in the front of the other kayak while the guide did all the paddling. The guides may be tough but they're not heartless moneygrabbers.

With all that said, the Napali Coast Kayak was one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime...to soak in the majestic cliffs all day long, to rest at the mouths of the incredible valleys, to venture into the darkness of the sea caves, and to glide under waterfalls for the best natural showers. Here's a link to a video of my trip I made over 3 years ago:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...t+kayak&hl=en#

Details:
Napali kayaking is a long (16-mile) trip stretched over approx 10 hours (incl 1 hr lunch) from Haena State Park to Polihale Beach, so endurance is the biggest challenge...fatigue really kicks in at about 10 miles, where you begin to wonder if the idea of a lunch break is merely a dangling carrot. We went out on a day that the ocean was as flat as glass (no white caps) but that also meant a long, physically exerting day as there were no waves to help us along. I slept like rock during the lunch break as well as on the entire van trip back.

My only wish was that they spent more time in the beginning re proper paddling techniques to maximize efficiency instead of promoting a mostly-arm stroke; i gradually learned to make better use of my torso since my shoulders and arms were gassed.

If you're worried about sea sickness (like i was), take a bonine/dramamine the night before and the morning of the trip.

It's also important to reapply sunscreen during each break time; several of us including myself got burnt due to such a long sun exposure, and i put on 30-proof at least twice.

And I'll also repeat that ocean conditions vary daily so your experience will never mirror mine and could encounter significant white caps, so be prepared and be aware.

A few vendor links to provide greater insight:
http://www.kayakkauai.com/seakayak.html
http://napalikayak.com/
http://www.outfitterskauai.com/na-pa...sea-kayak.html
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Old Oct 17, 09, 5:05 pm
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Originally Posted by W2B Globetrotter View Post
Hogwash!!! Did you HEAR this or did you actually WITNESS it?!?!
To ask people to respect the ocean and not get in over their heads is one thing. But to spread conjectures to dissuade others....html[/url]
Hogwash nothing. The warnings are clearly spelled out by at least one of the top kayak outfitters in the area, at least the one who is honest about the trip.

It is 17 miles of paddling in some of the roughest waters of the islands - common sense dicates that anyone prone to sea sickness or who might lack the stamina to finish a long, very strenuous and rough paddle should not select this trip and should instead focus on one of the sailing or powered-boat excursions which would be far more enjoyable for someone who doubts they have the ability to finish this trip.

Who would want to voluntarily spend an entire day of misery unless they knew full well what they were getting into and were comfortable with the challenges of the trip.
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Old Oct 18, 09, 2:58 am
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Again, have you ever actually done the kayak trip?!?!

And again, did you actually witness a guide leaving someone "behind on shore without so much as a hint of dismay" as you posited?!?!

I do agree, from personal experience, that the kayak trip is HARD but did I consider it "an entire day of misery"? Hhhmmm...

I've hiked a good portion of the Napali Coast (Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Beach; Nu'alolo-Awa'awapuhi Loop Trail; Pihea-Alakai Swamp Trail all the way to Kilohana Lookout).

I've done the Na Pali Catamaran trip years ago from Hanalei Bay and helicoptered over the cliffs and valleys with Air Kauai.

They were all very enjoyable but not nearly as rewarding as kayaking all 16-17 miles of that coastline.

So yes there are feelings of physical misery but there are also intense feelings of elation and fond remembrance. My conjecture is that if you asked all past participants who accomplished it as to their general thoughts of the trip, I believe a good majority would have responses similar to mine.
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Old Oct 19, 09, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by W2B Globetrotter View Post
Again, have you ever actually done the kayak trip?!?!

And again, did you actually witness a guide leaving someone "behind on shore without so much as a hint of dismay" as you posited?!?!

I do agree, from personal experience, that the kayak trip is HARD but did I consider it "an entire day of misery"? Hhhmmm.......
Not sure why you're getting so hyper over this issue. It's clearly spelled out on the FAQ page of one of the leading tour companies and when I have time, I will dig it up and post it. They clearly state that all participants will be judged on their ability to handle the trip, and if they suspect that a customer will have a problem, they will be left on shore and given a refund.

If you are not prepared to paddle 17 miles in very rough conditions with frequent capsizing, wave wash-overs, wind resistance and other natural hazards, this trip is not for you - what is the big deal here? There are plenty of other wonderful things to do on Kaua'i and the outfitter is only trying to prevent their customers from having a bad time and possibly impacting the experience of other customers who are better suited to the rigors of this trip.

Someone undertaking this journey who is not physically and mentally prepared for the challenges is certainly going to have a day of misery, if not worse.
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Old Oct 19, 09, 12:07 pm
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Bocastephen: I do respect your opinion and value many of your contributions here on FT.

It just seemed like your posts here suggest that only people in really good physical condition should apply. It most certainly helps, but I thought I'd chime in with a different opinion for those genuinely interested like the OP.
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Old Oct 19, 09, 5:51 pm
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I would think that paddling a kayak 17 miles in the ocean (even in relatively calm seas) would be at least somewhat of a challenge for the average person. I mean how often do most people even paddle anything on a regular basis? I think the key is to use common sense...and if a long day of exercise with little (or no) opportunity to turn back seems like too much to handle it probably is. There are other kayak options where you can rent them for a couple hours and see how that works out first.
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Old Oct 19, 09, 6:19 pm
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Eddie would go.
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Old Oct 19, 09, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by W2B Globetrotter View Post
Bocastephen: I do respect your opinion and value many of your contributions here on FT.

It just seemed like your posts here suggest that only people in really good physical condition should apply. It most certainly helps, but I thought I'd chime in with a different opinion for those genuinely interested like the OP.
Thank you - but I'm only trying to caution readers who might think the kayak is a simple, easy and fun way to see Na Pali. It really is for the physically adept -someone in poor physical condition, especially someone lacking ocean kayaking skills, would not find this trip enjoyable.

The other category of reader who might have an issue with the trip - someone in decent to excellent condition who is prone to sea-sickness. In this case, rather than caution the reader away from the experience, I would suggest they visit their Dr. before leaving on the trip and request a prescription for Scopace (oral scopolamine). Far more powerful and effective than the patch, it should turn what could otherwise be a stomach-churning experience into a challenging, but pleasurable and remarkable adventure.

Start dosing 2-3 days before the trip and the chance of motion sickness for most people is next to nothing. Equally recommended for those thinking of the catamaran cruise.

This tablet got me through 1 hour of rounding Aliak Point in Alaska while our tour boat surfed 14-18 ft swells. Not only no motion sickness, but we were the only people sitting up and eating lunch through the entire ordeal. More cookies for us while everyone else was spilling theirs.
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