Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, chose the island of Kauai to locate a home. According to the legend, Pele’s chosen area was the rugged and beautiful Na Pali coast on the northwest end of the island. Pele’s sister, Namakaokaha’i, however would have none of it. The sea goddess drove her sister from Kauai by flooding any of Pele’s attempts to dig a pit for her fiery home. As is often the case, jealousy and infidelity conspired to estrange the two sister goddesses. Pele would move to the Big Island high on Mauna Loa where Namakaokaha’i’s ocean waves could not reach.
To this day, the Na Pali coast is not the easiest of places to visit in Hawaii. The wandering coastline and jagged cliffs provide few places for ocean going vessels to land and few roads outside the state wilderness park traverse the area. The 11-mile Kalalau Trail, for those who are up to the challenge, offers hikers stunning views as it hugs the cliffs and switchbacks. The accomplished hiker is rewarded with unique photo opportunities in the lush rainforest valleys.
For those travelers who are not inclined to brave the inland pathways, a sunset dinner sail is a luxurious, if not outrageously expensive, alternative. Several companies offer such cruises, most leaving from the docks at Port Allen Harbor in the town of Ele’ele. My wife, Lynn, and I opted to sail with Capt. Andy’s company. On the day of our sale, two catamarans were scheduled for the dinner cruise. They differ in size and in the menu offered. We chose the larger Southern Star, a 65-foot sailing catamaran.
The first part of the cruise is under power of the ship’s diesel engines. First travel is westbound, then north along the western coast of the island, typically upwind. When the sea goddess is not amused, the trip upwind can be challenging for those who might suffer from motion sickness. The trip, however, is planned so that dinner is served on the way back to Port Allen. The vessel turns southward, engines are shut off, sails are hoisted and riding with the wind makes for a surprisingly calm sail, perfect for dinner service.
Dinner is finished in plenty of time to enjoy a drink or two while watching the sun sink slowly into the sea. Be sure to have your camera ready. You may spot a pod of dolphins, or during the right time of year, a whale or two. Our sharp-eyed captain spotted a whale and headed in the direction of the sighting. Unfortunately, before we were in good camera range, the whale sounded in a manner that indicated he or she would not be returning to the surface anytime soon. The Southern Star’s well planned schedule put us back at the dock in Port Allen Harbor at dusk.
I submit for your sea-faring enjoyment a gallery of images taken during our dinner cruise on Capt. Andy’s Southern Star. Click on any of the images below to view an enlarged image and scroll through the gallery.
I have no business arrangement with Capt. Andy or his company. I present this photo essay as a tourist customer. The food was top-notch and the ride during dinner was calm and smooth. Going upwind, however, was not so much. Bumpy seas and salt spray were the order of the day. We turned southward a bit early due to rain squalls blocking our path ahead. Your mileage may vary depending upon the weather. You can find out more about Capt. Andy’s tours and options at http://www.napali.com/