Day 8. This was our most fantastic adventure yet! We booked an all-day trip with Blue Dolphin Charters to sail on their 65′ catamaran up the Nā Pali Coast, then 17 miles offshore to the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau to snorkel. From their website: “Ni’ihau is the smallest of Hawaii’s inhabited islands. The island is known by its nickname of the ‘Forbidden Island’ as it is generally off limits to the public and only relatives of the island’s owners and invited guests are allowed to step foot on the land”. It sounded so cool! Here’s a google map showing Ni’ihau off the SW coast of Kauai [and our general route], and a screen grab showing the beautiful Blue Dolphin catamarans:
As we were leaving port and heading towards the Nā Pali Coast, the staff on the vessel [who were very funny and amusing, while also being very knowledgeable about anything we needed or asked] announced it was picture time. They told us if we wanted pics on the bow, to hand a crew member our camera and they’d take a bunch of shots as we posed in a goofy manner. Hubby didn’t want to do it [I didn’t either, at first] but then I realized we don’t really have a lot of pics of us together and it would be fun to have some new ones. So he relented, and I’m so glad he did! Don’t we look so happy & relaxed?:
Then we stood on the upstairs deck and watched other people do it – it was hilarious! The crew members were awesome and kept yelling out commands like we were supermodels LOL!:
Off in the distance we could see our destination: Ni’ihau Island [long, skinny, wormish thing] & Lehua Crater [small bump way off to the right in the 2nd pic]:
As we headed up the Nā Pali coast, I realized it was like nothing I’d ever seen before:
Can you spot the 2 waterfalls?:
The beaches and caves we saw along the coast can only be accessed by boat [although I think some can be accessed by multiple-day hikes through the mountains – F THAT!]:
Can you spot the helicopter in the middle of the 2nd pic? Tiny white dot:
Here’s a closeup in case you missed it:
We thought about taking a helicopter tour of the island. Maybe next time!
As we headed out to open water towards Ni’ihau & Lehua, dolphins swam alongside the catamaran a few times, both spinner dolphins & bottlenose dolphins – they’re so beautiful:
We also saw lots of humpback whales & some babies during the trip, but they were too far away to photograph. It took a couple of hours to steam to Lehua Crater, but as we approached I got very excited. It was everything I could have hoped for! Weird looking, ominous, and soooooooo cool:
Our boat anchored in the channel between Ni’ihau & Lehua. Lehua is uninhabited and a designated bird sanctuary. It’s also apparently infested with rats… I looked for rats but didn’t see any. Up close we could see birds nesting on it, and the odd melted-looking topography from it’s volcanic origins:
There’s also a crack which they call the keyhole:
Apparently I only got one shot of Ni’ihau Island:
The snorkeling wasn’t great. The water was deep & dingy and the fish were too far down to see very well. Their website says they often see green sea turtles & monk seals, which we were SUPER excited about, but we didn’t see either. MEH!!! We even rented an underwater camera from the snorkel rental dude at our hotel expecting to see extravagent things. All I saw, in the 30 minutes they gave us to snorkel, was a bland fish, a giant 16-legged starfish, a bunch of fish too far down to see, and hubby:
Some people opted to scuba dive [those who were certified, obviously] instead of snorkel. They were scuba’ing in much deeper water than us snorkelers, and they saw a shark! I’m kind of really glad we didn’t see the shark!
As we started to head back home, the crew fed us a wonderful lunch of homemade bread [sooooooooo good and thick and huge and delicious!], coldcuts, salad, fruit, and as many beers or Mai Tai’s as you could drink [I think hubby had one beer and I had 2 Mai Tai’s – we kept it respectable]. And cookies! Lots & lots of cookies! And they sang silly songs to us as we ate. The crater and it’s one fluffy cloud looked beautiful [and slightly ominous] as we pulled away:
The shape reminds me of the alien spacecraft in Prometheus [awesome movie].
Here are hubby’s pics from the trip – that’s me in the hat:
I like the perspectives he got on the mountains:
The sun makes it look even more like an alien landscape:
Apparently there was a small boat anchored off the coast. I never saw it – I must have been too busy photographing other things:
Stay tuned for my last post, which will cover Days 9 & 10.