Riding the swells of the great Pacific tucked safely into a rigid-hull, powered rubber raft is a great way to get an up-close view of the towering cliffs and deep green valleys of the Na Pali Coast. Zodiac inflatable rafts are small, durable and look like lifeboats, which is exactly what they are used for on search and rescue missions. Large rafts, like the 48-foot craft used on Na Pali Explorer excursions, hold 35 passengers or more, but typically boats are designed for about 16 passengers.
Hanging tight to the side of a raft, you might feel like Jacques Cousteau on an expedition filmed for the Discovery Channel. Or if that’s too dramatic for you, just see yourself as wet, windblown and happier than a loon.
Most rafting tours take off from south or west side harbors and tours are three to four hours long. These little crafts can search for whales, pull up on beaches, steer into sea caves, and stop at great reefs filled with colorful corals, hundreds of fish, turtles, white-tip reef sharks and the occasional monk seal. Here you’ll be provided with snorkel gear and invited to take a look for yourself. Knowledgeable tour guides will provide information about Hawaiian history and geology, and most tour operators provide lunch.
Hint: If you sit in the back of the boat, you’ll get a smoother, more relaxed ride. But if you sit up front, you’ll get an adventure.