On the second day of our Kauai Visitor’s Bureau sponsored trip, we were treated to one of my absolute favorite things to do on Kauai – a Nā Pali coast boat tour! This year, we went with Kauai Sea Tours, who we really enjoyed sailing with. The half-day Nā Pali morning snorkel tour was great for seeing several pods of dolphins throughout the morning (as they sleep in the afternoon), though as a landscape photographer, the midday light is really rough to shoot in, so I’m hoping we can do an afternoon/evening tour next time we’re there!
After our 7:00am check-in at the company’s Port Allen office, we quickly boarded the Lucky Lady down at the harbor, and were off! The sky was amazingly clear that day (which my eventual sunburn was a testament to), and I was so happy to be out to sea with the wind in my hair. It’s funny – though I was born and raised a Hawaii kid, going to the beach and swimming/snorkeling with my parents, I am not nearly the ocean creature I probably should be. However, I absolutely love being on the water as opposed to in it, and I never get seasick, so being on a boat is one of my favorite things to do.
Still, as snorkeling was part of the tour, of course I was going to be in the water as well. As soon as we knew we were going to be snorkeling, I finally took the (mini) plunge of buying an Ewa Marine water housing via Craigslist. We had previously tested it in our building’s pool, but this was our first time taking a DSLR into the ocean! I had also recently bought the husband an LCD screen for his GoPro, so we were both armed with water-safe cameras for this trip.
Sadly, the water clarity was not that great that day, so we didn’t come up with any interesting fish photos, but we were lucky to have some turtle encounters! Apparently there were also some manta rays, but Ed and I missed them. I ended up posing for Ed a bit, struggling to look graceful while swimming. I can’t wait to take the housing out on a clear water day though! I wouldn’t go deeper than 10 feet with it, but who knows – maybe I’ll upgrade to a solid housing if I begin getting in the water more.
After we got out of the water, we got to rinse off with the freshwater hose, then get some breakfast. However, as we started sailing out of the snorkeling area, we spotted a pod of dolphins swim right into the snorkelers from another boat! I was so sad…26 years years in Hawaii, and I have yet to swim with dolphins. (Though I suppose I should probably increase my chances by actually going into the ocean once in a while…)
However, I was soon cheered up by several dolphins coming up to the boat to say “Good morning!” to us as they swam off our bow. We saw several spinner dolphins (who didn’t do much spinning for us), and later on a couple of bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins are just awesome.
We rounded a bend, and then the majestic Nā Pali coast was before us! It got much windier as we were sailing, and there were a couple waves that splashed my (water housing-less) camera a bit more than I was comfortable with, so I put it away and brought out the GoPro for a selfie instead.
I’d really love to do a Zodiac tour one of these days, but the crew of the Lucky Lady took us pretty close to the caves and cliffs so we could see the gentle waterfalls coming down the rocks. With the combination of wind blowing salt water droplets onto my polarizer, and the harsh overhead light, it was pretty difficult to shoot, so here are some of my favorite shots from this trip. (Here are last year’s photos.)
As we and the other passengers took our time enjoying and photographing the spectacular view, the crew began passing out mai tais prior to our lunch. Lunch consisted of a delicious sandwich buffet and pasta salad, with a selection of drinks, including beer and wine!
After lunch, we headed back to Port Allen. Ed and I spent the return trip at the bow of the boat, enjoying the windier afternoon conditions that left us cheering as the waves dropped from under the boat. Though we were definitely tired from a day out in the sun, we had a very important event to get ready for – Kauai Visitor Bureau’s Executive Director Sue Kanoho’s surprise vow renewal ceremony for her 25th anniversary with her husband Solomon, a Kauai firefighter, held at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Though I retired from shooting weddings last year, I come out of retirement for really special people, so I did take a few photos for this amazing couple!
After the ceremony, along with champagne and cake, our group headed to Tidepools, the resort’s Zagat award-winning restaurant, for an amazing dinner. However, as I was pretty worn out from shooting all day, and the restaurant’s lighting was quite dim and intimate, I decided to enjoy my food rather than eating it. I can assure it though, it was incredibly delicious! So much, in fact, that it re-energized me, and since the skies were still really clear, I went out for another night-shooting session to enjoy the Milky Way while it was still out.
Finally, we headed back to the room and to bed to rest up before the next day’s adventure! Stay tuned for more!
As a bonus, here’s an animated GIF I made of the world turning past the Milky Way: