Na Pali Coast Zodiac boat tours are offered by a number of companies, most of which sail from Port Allen in Elee near Hanapepe. Some Kauai Zodiac boat tours also sail from Hanalei Bay. Taking these tours is one of the only ways to explore the ruggedly beautiful and virtually inaccessible Na Pali Coast, one of the island’s major attractions. It is also accessible by helicopter tours that normally take off from the Princeville Airport and by hiking in from the interior through Waimea Canyon and Kalalau Valley. Helicopter tours generally land for a very short time—usually only 30 to 60 minutes. The hiking portion is a true expedition and can be quite strenuous, and it is not recommended during the winter. Overall, Na Pali Coast Zodiac boat tours provide the best way to see this spectacular coastline.
Zodiac is a trademark name for the inflatable, semi-rigid hulled boat invented by the French company in the 1930s. Like Kleenex, Jacuzzi, and Xerox, this brand name has become a common term to describe numerous similar landing craft. Some Kauai Zodiac boat tours sail to the coastline in larger ships, including catamarans and sailing yachts. These provide a relatively smooth journey, and coastal excursions on the beaches and even into the many sea caves are accomplished with the smaller landing craft. Some companies also provide one- and two-person kayaks for a different sort of excursion.
Most Na Pali Zodiac boat tours are day trips, lasting from five to six hours. Luncheon dining is on a nice buffet spread and is provided by the company. Some companies also offer breakfast, depending on the tour's departure time. You can find overnight Kauai Zodiac boat tours that either camp on the beaches or have sleeping berths onboard the boats. Activities during the excursions include snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, and viewing other wildlife, including marine birds and dolphins.