It’s pretty amazing. In the 6+ years I’ve lived on Kauai I’ve seen the Na Pali coast from the water, twice. Once I was actually kayaking and focused on self preservation, the other time was a couple of months after I moved out to the island. So…it’s safe to say this was a long time coming. So when a friend offered to take a jet ski down the coast for sunset, who was I to argue.
Now, it should be mentioned I am a land mammal by nature. Once in and around water my comfort level drops by quite a bit. Now put me on a jet ski, flying/bouncing/jostling across the water and it’s fair to say my tension level raises just a bit. So…there we go…down the coast, leaving from Hanalei Bay around 430pm. The coast is truly amazing. And being that I do not leave it very often to get these perspectives, I am constantly amazed by this island I call home. The ride is pretty choppy. It’s been pretty windy over the last few days and the wind swell has kicked up to a solid roll. Onward we go; past Lumahai, Wainiha, around the reef at Tunnels and past Ha’ena and Ke’e Beach. And now the epic stretch of coast that is the Na Pali lies ahead. There are a lot of clouds around and off to the west and north the sun is hiding behind layers of cirrus and a rainy cumulus off in the distance. I lean forward and say to Joel and say it’s a coin flip…50/50 on getting any light. As we make our way southwest he shows me the sea caves that I’ve heard and seen photos of but never with my own eyes. Double Door…with the waterfall falling through a hole in the ceiling; Open Ceiling cave…with a giant opening in the roof that fell in. It is here we stopped for a while and the thoughts started turning. Yet another project to chase after. However, we decided that the chance of the good light was too iffy to wait and went back to Kalalau.
Kalalau is a magical place. Massive fluted cliffs rise out of the beach, the Valley just to the left (looking at the coast from the ocean). The only way to reach this mythical destination is hiking a very strenuous 11 miles from Ke’e Beach or by boat. And it’s worth it. Just ask someone who’s been. We sat off the coast and watched the clouds and chances of good light. Snapping a few photos (yes the camera was in my hand while sitting on a jetski and I was holding it tight). While shooting we generally have the motor off as to not disturb the water around us and keep still. I mentioned we should reposition a bit further back and to the left. **click click click** motor didnt turn over. NOT a place one wants to get stuck. Joel turns the starter again and after sputtering it turns over and the engine is on. Now it’s decided that we keep it idling, and therefore moving, until we get back as not to risk it. Yikes. As we circle back around the sun starts to hit the gap in the clouds we saw across the horizon. The light is on the beach but the clouds and mountains are still dark. Clicking away as we circle around. Then the real show…the sun fills the coast and finally bam! Because we couldnt shut the engine off I was standing on the jetski, holding on to the back of Joel’s life vest with one hand, and photographing with the other. Snap snap snap.
Ok…time to get back north! Pack up the bag, on the back and off. Even faster than we got down the coast. The constant shaking is briefly abates every so often as we take air over the waves, only to be smacked right back down to the surf. Getting back to Hanalei finally we witness an awesome light show. I take a few more photos but in the back of my mind I already got what I needed from the day. What a ride!
100% view of the detail in the shot: