Zodiac Tour with Dolphins and Sea Caves PLUS Snorkeling on Kauai


Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Snorkel Ken

The beautiful Na Pali Coast from zodia

Lizzy and I went snorkeling on Kauai (it ended up being a lot of fun but not great snorkeling) for six days this month.  Believe me, we are aware of how lucky we are to be in a position to Hawaiian Island hop whenever we feel like we want to.  This time was different, though.  We usually stay with friends or try to keep the trip as inexpensive as possible, focusing mainly on sightseeing and adventuring.  This time, though, we splurged a little bit.  We spent the 6 days at the Kauai Marriott and it had everything that we wanted; a huge pool to laze by with fountains, cocktails, and hot tubs, as well as a beautiful garden property, a beach just steps away, and good dining at Duke’s, Cafe Portofino, and a sushi restaurant.  I definitely recommend the Marriott if you’re going to Kauai.  Actually, we like it so much that we bought into the Marriott Vacation Club while we were there.  YAY!

While we were on Kauai we booked a few trips, SNUBA (which is coming in a different post here on The Snorkel Store), zip lining, the Na Pali Coast Zodiac Tour (the eventual subject of this post) as well as deep sea fishing where we caught 5 yellow fin tuna (ahi) and 5 skip jack tuna between the two of us.  It was a great time.

On to the Napali Coast Zodiac Tour with Snorkeling

I really, really wanted to snorkel on Kauai while we were there, unfortunately the snorkeling was not the highlight of this tour…but I’m still really glad that Lizzy and I did it.

We chose to go with Captain Andy’s rafting expedition due to being a little more adventurous than wanting a lazy catamaran tour.  Believe me, it was adventurous.  You had to really hold on as you sat on the side of zodiac so that you wouldn’t thrown overboard!  They taught everyone how to secure themselves, though.  It’s a wild ride.

Here’s the description from the Napali.com website:

“An incredible 5½ to 6 hour expedition to Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. We’ll leave the modern world behind-darting in and out of sea caves, plunging under cascading waterfalls, and encountering the dramatic peaks and majestic valleys of the Na Pali Coast.

When conditions allow, we’ll land on a remote beach – Nualolo Kai – for hiking, snorkeling, and a delicious lunch. Take a guided historical hike to the ruins of an 800 year old Hawaiian fishing village. Explore the same thriving reef ecosystem that supported ancient Hawaiians.

Due to ocean conditions from October through April, the beach landing is conditional based on current ocean activity. We have discounted this tour based on these facts. Please contact us for additional information.

Includes: Expert snorkeling instruction, Lunch, Beverages, Remote beach landing, Whale watching (in season)

Departs: From Kekaha daily”

It had all of it, peeps!  The most exciting part for Lizzy and I were the dolphins…so many dolphins.  Three separate pods…and at least one baby dolphin that was jumping that couldn’t have been any larger than 3 footballs.  Below are some of the images from our incredible day at Capt. Andy’s.  (Again, highly recommended.)

I’ve added additional information where appropriate.

Dolphins swimming along with the zodia.
Chilling with dolphins off the Na Pali Coast
Pretty clear photo of a dolphin along side the zodiac.
NaPali Coast
A shot of the NaPali Coast from the Zodiac with my GoPro
One of the sea caves that we went in. There were sea birds everywhere and while they were cool to see, you just didn’t want to look up with your mouth open and without sunglasses. 😉
You can see how dark it was in the cave as you can just barely make out the bow of the zodiac.
One of the caves we went into had an open “roof” with coral in the middle and beautiful blue water. Kayakers were resting in the cove when we arrived. (This image and the next are the same cave.
Look at that water!

Snorkeling on Kauai and Beach Landing at Nualolo Kai

This was a gorgeous beach with sheer cliff faces of the NaPali right in front of us.  We did some snorkeling, had a great lunch, went on a nature hike and learned about the area as well as how to open a coconut and that noni fruit are NOT GOOD but GOOD FOR YOU.  We even saw some monk seals on the beach.

Now, look, the snorkeling wasn’t great.  We were kept in a very small area and not really allowed to explore.  The clearer waters are the ones that we weren’t allowed to go to.  However, this isn’ the tour’s fault.  They need a special permit to even land at the beach from the Na Pali Ohana, an organization of descendants of the original settlers of the area and they were more than just a little paranoid about losing that permit.  The people have a great connection and legitimate claim to the land.  I’m all about taking care of Hawaii and stopping anymore building but I would have loved to have been able to snorkel and explore a little bit more of this awesome beach and coast. In the end I was disappointed with snorkeling on Kauai (even the SNUBA tour we took), but I would do this tour again in an instant.  But it was a great tour, nonetheless.

Nualolo Kai
The beautiful, secluded beach at Nualolo Kai. Special permits are needed to land and take tours. Absolutely gorgeous, though.
Monk seals resting up at Nualolo Kai at the end of our “hike”.
Unfortunately, this is the best photo I got while snorkeling on Kauai during this tour. A school of convict tang before I was called back to the group. LOL


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