Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
A special portfolio by David Brandt-Erichsen
A half-day boating tour of the spectacular Na Pali Coast of Kauai is a special treat that includes four of the most spectacular natural arches in Hawaii. Two of the arches are sea caves, three of them are associated with waterfalls, and one of them (the largest arch in Hawaii) is on a pristine secluded beach. It looks like Walt Disney built this place!
If sea conditions are favorable, the motorized rubber "zodiac" boats take you right through three of these arches. Conditions are almost always favorable in the summer, late spring, and early fall, but never favorable in the winter. The four arches will be shown here in the order in which they are seen on the tours, heading southwest. The photos here do not come close to doing this place justice.
1. The Sea Tunnel
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The zodiac boats first go through a curving sea tunnel estimated at 40 feet wide and 400 feet long. A short way into the entrance there is an opening through the roof with a waterfall flowing down into the tunnel, pictured below. Walt Disney at work again!
2. Sea arch with two waterfalls
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The zodiac boats then take you through a spectacular sea arch with two waterfalls flowing behind it. The span is estimated at 60 feet.
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Honopu Beach is a very pristine, isolated beach which is totally inaccessible by land. The commercial tour boats are also prohibited from landing here (the photo above was taken from off shore). This is the largest natural arch in Hawaii, with a span of 145 feet, a height of 60 feet, and a thickness of approximately 250 feet. It is actually a natural bridge, since there is a waterfall on the other side which forms a stream that flows through the opening. The photo below shows an aerial view, with Honopu Beach at the top of the picture.
4. The open sea cave
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The zodiac boats also take you inside a sea cave with a collapsed roof, forming a large bowl with one opening to the sea, shown above. The span of the opening is estimated at 40 feet. An aerial view of this very interesting feature is below. The opening to the sea is the dark area in the lower middle, along the shoreline.