Kaua’i Day 8: Boat Trip to Na Pali and Ni’ihau

Friday, February 19, 2016

Day 8 was by far the earliest day we had to wake up (3:30 am to be exact), but it was for a reason just as exciting as our helicopter tour… a boat tour!

Midway through our Hawaii vacation, when we realized we definitely would not be kayaking the NaPali Coast, we decided we would do a boat tour along the NaPali Coast instead. Little did we know that even many of the boat tours didn’t run during the winter due to the rough surf. We were in luck though! We searched our guidebook and found one that was hoping to get out on Friday, which was predicted to be one of the only decent days for weather during our stay.

We booked with a company that used a large catamaran to sail along the NaPali Coast. The guidebook boasted that people who were prone to being sea sick would handle the rough water just fine since the boat was so big. I had felt sea sick during our deep sea fishing expedition in Costa Rica on a small boat, so I figured I would be just fine on this big boat in Kauai!

We arrived at Port Allen (on the exact opposite side of the island from where we were staying) at 6:30 am in complete darkness. The Captain gave a run down about our trip for the day and explained that, despite the ugly weather that Kauai had been experiencing that week, this day was looking pretty good. We would travel up along the the NaPali Coast and after seeing how the waters were, he would decide if it was okay to head about 18 miles west of Kauai to the small island of Ni’ihau for the snorkeling portion of the trip.

It wasn’t long after being on the boat when I started to feel a knot developing in my stomach. Although I hadn’t thought I was hungover, I immediately blamed the many Mai Tais I drank the night before. I tried drinking lots of water to hydrate, but I began feeling worse, not better! It finally dawned on me that I was not hung over; I was sea sick! In all of the information our Captain gave us before we hopped on board, he never mentioned anything about being sea sick, so I had wrongly assumed that being sea sick was rare on this boat.

I looked around wondering if anyone else was feeling sick and everyone seemed just fine! Was I really the only one that was feeling sea sick on this boat? How embarrassing! Not only did the sea sickness catch me off guard, but since the Captain had failed to mention anything about sea sickness, I also had no idea what to do about it. Were there buckets? Was it okay to vomit in the weird toilets on the boat? Was I supposed to vomit over the side of the boat for everyone to see?

Luckily, eventually others were getting just as unbearably sick as myself because I finally overheard one of the crew members telling a girl that if she felt sick, she could just lean over the back of the boat to throw up.

Well, that wasn’t the advice I wanted to hear. I decided I would suck it up and sit at the back of the boat praying to God that I didn’t have to vomit.




As we continued up the gorgeous Na Pali Coast, the Captain began announcing cool things to look out for like shark sightings and turtles and dolphins and waterfalls and sea caves and magical narwhals. These all sounded so wonderful, but not as wonderful as not vomiting, so I sat quietly in my seat, holding on to one last hope of making it through this boat trip — the hope that we would NOT go the island of Ni’ihau after all, which seemed like a million miserable miles away.

Too late. We were going.

The next few hours were some of the worst hours of my entire life that I never want to recount. (*Side note – if sea sickness is anything like morning sickness, you can count me out of getting preggo!)

We stopped a couple of miles short of the island of Ni’ihau (because we couldn’t actually land on this “forbidden” island) and snorkeling gear was doled out. Although the water had some large swells, it looked relatively calm and I couldn’t wait to get off that damn rocking boat and into the water. I thought surely anything was better than sitting on the boat. Sure enough, the Captain announced to everyone that if they were feeling sea sick, generally they would feel better being in the water. Yay! Relief was coming!

But getting off the boat proved to be an obstacle in and of itself! I had survived the past few hours on the boat only by sitting absolutely still, breathing deeply, staring out far into the horizon, and requesting that hubby hand me anything that would have required me to take my eyes off the horizon. I had no idea how I was going to take my eyes off the horizon to prep for snorkeling.

I slugged around on the boat trying to put on sun screen and snorkeling gear. Because I was so focused on trying not to vomit while the boat was anchored and rocking worse than it had when we were moving, hubby misinterpreted my silence and slow behavior to mean that I wasn’t going to snorkel. He merrily jumped off the boat on his own, eager to have some fun in the water!

Meanwhile, I was trying to put away our towels on the boat so they wouldn’t get wet with people returning back to the boat later. Unfortunately, this last single action that required me to take my eyes off the horizon was what did me over.

I tried to quickly and literally come up with an exit plan.  I couldn’t vomit off the back of the boat now because everyone was in the water snorkeling, so I hoped that if I could just get off the boat quick enough, I would immediately feel better. No such luck! There was a line just to get off the boat, so I ran to the restroom and lost it… till I had nothing left to lose! I felt better for a hot second and made it into the water to confess to hubby what had just happened.


Being in the water felt no better. Every time I dipped my head under water to snorkel I felt worse with the reef repeatedly floating away and towards me. Vomiting in the water beside me didn’t seem like a good idea so I didn’t stay in the water long before returning to the boat that I dreaded.

The rest of the trip was equally as bad as the first part of the trip. The boat stayed anchored near the island for a painfully long time while everyone joyfully ate lunch and drank free drinks, neither of which I could fathom participating in. Our journey back to Kauai was postponed several miserable times for more sightings of creatures in the water, all of which I still could not muster up the courage to get up to see. The only comfort I found in the second half of the trip was staring at a guy at the back of the boat who literally lost his lunch several times. He was worse off than me!


About seven hours later after starting this boat trip we finally arrived back to land. Kauai may have been gorgeous from a boat, but it was better viewed from land with a full tummy! I couldn’t have felt happier to see the rain soaked mountains and eat some grub!



Up Next: It rains some more and I have a panic attack at Hideaway Beach!



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