A Na Pali Coast tour on the island of Kauai is an incredible experience. But when seas are too rough along the Na Pali Coast, Capt Andy’s Na Pali Cruise instead sails along Kauai’s southern coastline towards Kipu Kai (or farther out for whale watching), weather permitting.
Kauai’s southern coastline is beautiful, and it is certainly befitting of a sightseeing cruise. There are many wonderful things to be seen along the southern coast. However, the Na Pali Coast is the island’s star attraction and there is no substitute.
Unfortunately, passengers are usually not notified about the alternate destination until they show up for the cruise. Capt. Andy’s (as well as the other Na Pali cruise operators) offer three options when this happens – go on the cruise to Kipu Kai, reschedule the cruise or get a refund. Though disappointed, most opt to go on the cruise to Kipu Kai.
To minimize the chance you will miss the Na Pali Coast on your visit to Kauai, we suggest the following:
- Book the cruise during the first part of your trip to Kauai. This will give you time to reschedule.
- Have a backup plan with an alternate destination or activity. Alternatives could include a drive up to Waimea Canyon or a trip into Poipu.
- Consider the weather forecast for your rescheduling date.
Now, a cruise to Kipu Kai is not the worst thing that can happen to you. This is a very interesting cruise that offers different and beautiful perspectives of Kauai’s southern coastline, including Lawai Kai (perhaps Kauai’s most beautiful beach), Spouting Horn, the resorts of Poipu, the cliff at Shipwrecks, the Mahaulepu Trail, Gillin’s Beach, the “little Na Pali Coast” near Kipu Kai, and finally the hidden beach of Kipu Kai. Along the way there is sea life to be seen, cool ocean breezes, a steak dinner and a classic Kauai sunset (weather permitting) to top it off. The crew is professional, attentive, helpful and friendly.
Nevertheless, this “route less traveled” is different than what is expected from the Na Pali Coast. We experienced the Kipu Kai cruise in early April 2019. There had been surf advisories for the Na Pali Coast for a couple of days before our departure so we were prepared when informed about the alternate destination. Though we had done more than a few whale watching and fishing trips in this area, we decided to go on the cruise. We’re glad we did as it offered a closer view of Kauai’s southern coastline than is seen on whale watching and fishing tours.
A few caveats about the Kipu Kai cruise: 1.) It’s not the Na Pali Coast. 2.) Only brief (and faraway) views of Kipu Kai. 3.) On our cruise our boat did not anchor in Lawai Bay (at Lawai Kai) for the sunset dinner, which would have gone a long way in mitigating the alternate destination. Our boat anchored farther out. (We could see two other boats anchored in the cove.) As a result, passengers spent at least an hour just sitting around waiting for the sunset and the return to Port Allen. 4.) We feel the cruise companies should make a better effort to notify passengers beforehand, especially when ocean advisories clearly indicate in advance the Na Pali Coast will be unsuitable. To do otherwise borders on the unethical business practice of concealment.
Verdict: Reschedule if you can, but this is still an interesting and beautiful cruise.
See our Na Pali Coast Cruise Tours page for more information.
Kipu Kai Cruise Photos
Leaving Port Allen.
Beautiful Lawai Kai Beach is part of Allerton Garden.
Some of the many resorts in Poipu.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.
A unique perspective of the cliff at Shipwrecks.
Approaching Kipu Kai
Another Capt. Andy’s boat. The waters can be choppy headed towards Kipu Kai. For the return trip it’s smoother sailing with the sail up. Bring a light jacket as it can get cool, wet and windy during the cruise.
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