Review: Na Pali Coast Sunset Sail with Blue Dolphin Charters


I had seen the gorgeous Na Pali Coast from a helicopter tour and hiked along some of it, but until this last trip to Kauai in late October, I hadn’t seen the coast from the water. So, I was really excited to arrange a Na Pali Coast sunset sail for a new perspective.

Captain Chris with Blue Dolphin Charters

The tour begins at Port Allen Small Boat Harbor in Eleele on the southern end of Kauai. After signing waivers and checking in Captain Chris (photo on the right), met with us to explain the conditions for the day.  We all walked together to the boat, took our shoes off and boarded.  Before we headed out, we met the crew for and observed a safety briefing. I must say that Captain Chris, First Mate Joe, and Second Mate Adam really had a genuine concern for safety and comfort throughout the tour.

Hawaii-October_Oct232008_1805From Port Allen we headed towards the Na Pali coast.  For about the first hour we were heading in the direction of the Na Pali Coast.  Though you’re not instantly at the Na Pali Coast, the scenery of the islands and the long beaches on the southern end were still a treat to see.

Once we got to the Na Pali Coast the scenery was really spectacular. I was glad to get to admire the shape and color of the cliffs from the water and at a slower pace as compared to a helicopter tour.  One day, I plan to go at an even slower place with a kayak tour of the Na Pali.  See all our photos from this tour.

Along the way Captain Chris pointed out points of interest.  He told us the history and significance of certain valleys.

The water was fairly rough with a slight winter swell, which is normal from about October through April. Though the water made for a rocky ride, we actually got pretty far up the coast.  We made it up to the Kalalau Valley. Once we got as far as we could, Captain Chris turned the boat around  and  Hawaii-October-2008166stopped it for a bit of calm so that people could have their photos taken. The crew was really good about offering to take photos.  They did that again at sunset and that was very nice, too. We were instructed on how to see the green flash and some people aboard did see it. I think I blinked at the wrong time and missed it.

We had a luau-style buffet that included kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, salad, rice, bread rolls, poi, chocolate chip cookies, and pineapple. I don’t have high expectations for boat tour food, but this dinner was surprisingly good. I thought that the kalua pork was especially delicious. Through the tour, sodas, juices and water was amply available.  After we turned around, Mai-Tais, beers, and wine were served.

The tour lasts four hours and costs $115.54 per adult, but if you book directly with them online, you’ll only pay $94.35.  The cost for children ages 2 – 11 is $83.74, but if you book directly online, the cost is reduced down to $74.33.  All drinks and food were included. For further information, see the Blue Dolphin Charter’s Web site.

Overall, I quite pleased with the tour. I thought that the crew was very safety conscious, helpful and friendly. They were constantly surveying the customers to anticipate needs.  There were 51 customers on board and it didn’t feel crowded at all.  I suppose one very slight disappointment was that the brochures show the catamarans with beautiful rainbow sails and the sails weren’t used. It wasn’t a big deal at all to me as the scenery of Kauai was really the highlight. I chalked it up to rough seas.  I wonder if they open the sails in the calmer summer months?

Things to know before you go:

  • If you even have the slightest suspicion that you may get sea-sick, take precautions!  Andy and I both took an over the counter drug to prevent sea sickness and we didn’t get sick.  Unfortunately there were about five people who did get very sick.
  • The Captain explained that the winds and sea conditions can change and that there are no guarantees that we’d be able to get very far up the coast. He said we would go as far as possible.  He offered that if we wanted to get a refund or try another day we were free to do that.
  • Expecting mothers and children under the age of two are not permitted on this tour.
  • Strollers are not allowed on the boat and small children must have the ability to stand and walk on their own. They do not allow children to be held and carried while the boat is moving.
  • We chose a sunset sail, but they also offer morning tours of the coastline and snorkeling. In addition to snorkeling, another upside of choosing a morning tour is that you have a great chance of seeing dolphins.  Here’s a listing of all their tours.
  • They take these tours out year round, but will not go out if the winter swell is too dangerous. The water in the summer tends to be much smoother than in the winter.
  • If you take one of these tours December through April, you have an excellent chance of seeing humpback whales.

Have you taken tour with Blue Dolphin Charters?  What did you think?

  1. I took a Napali sunset tour, but I can’t remember who the tour was with!
    It was definitely worth every penny, it’s even more specatular by boat than heli.

    Great pics, which reminds me, I need to dig mine up and print them out!!
    Great advice, esp the motion sickness.. we definitely had a few “overhangers” hehe
    thanks for sharing and bringing back great memories!

  2. Hi Eric – Interesting to hear your opinion about boat vs helicopter tour. I’d have a hard time choosing between the two. The biggest problem with a helicopter tour is that it goes by so quickly whereas on a boat tour you go so much slower.

    Le me know if you have any special photos from your tour that you’d like to feature here. 🙂

    I felt so bad for those “overhangers” on our tour. I was so happy that I had taken motion sickness medicine. I know it helped me from being in one of them. I also think it helped that as soon as the boat took off, I grabbed a ginger ale and the crew passed out pretzels. I’m so, so glad I didn’t get sick so that I could enjoy the scenery!

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