Beginner kayaking Na Pali Coast: Advice?

I’ve only casually kayaked on the open ocean and on rivers in my past, but I’ve booked a trip to kayak the Na Pali coastline in Kauai this month.

I’m looking for advice for beginners. Is there a must-read book which can explain technique or anything else a beginner must know about kayaking? Does anyone have any advice about the Na Pali coast from previous experience? Any advice on necessary equipment? I always like doing enough research before I try something new, so any useful information and resources would help.


Can be benign or anything but

– Last Updated: May-04-06 7:06 PM EST –

As a beginner booking that trip, you're basically relying on the outfitter to keep you safe. Depending on wind and swell, it could be pretty easy paddling or big seas and big surf. Nothing you can read in a book is going to prepare you for the latter, so you're relying on the outfitter to keep you on the beach when conditions are too much for you. Be aware that what you see from the beach doesn't necessarily tell you a lot about what you're going to find a few hundred yards out.

Edited to add: Audrey Sutherland's book on paddling Hawaii is pretty much the standard reference. It was available on Amazon last time I checked.

Beautiful Scenery

– Last Updated: May-04-06 10:04 PM EST –





I took a zodiac raft trip down the coast and it was awesome. However, there were quite large waves and one passenger fell off the raft while underway. However, we lost the wind as we continued around the coast.

Realize that the NaPali Coast is quite long at 17 miles and will take at least a full day.

Immediately, go and buy this book!
[click on page samples tab]

It's available everywhere.

And by the way, spring the big bucks for a helicopter ride (Kauai). Its very expensive, but worth every penny!

Like no place on earth
You are going to love it!

More online info
Goto I had a trip planned there a couple of years ago but my frequent flyer airline tickets fell through with new blackout rules…argh!

Thanks for the great feedback. I already own The Ultimate Kauai book and am purchasing the Paddle Hawaii book. I’ve looked in to the sit-on-topkayaking site as well.

Again, thanks!

One more thought
Probably the best thing you could do skills-wise is to work on your forward stroke. The Brent Reitz video is good, and I’ve also heard good things about the Barton/Chalupsky video that Epic sells. There’s not a lot you can do to prepare for the water conditions until you have some idea what they feel like, but you can get away with a lot in a SOT if you can just keep the boat moving.

Na Pali

– Last Updated: May-05-06 12:11 PM EST –

I think that trip must be one of the grandest novice trips in the world. I've never been on Kauai in the summer, so I've only paddled the other side of the island, and I've hiked the NaPali coast in winter. Paddling it is on my Life To Do List.

SOTs are perfect for the trip. The water will be warm (kinda), you'll be in a group, and self-recovery is doable for anyone who is reasonably fit. Just secure all your stuff, and don't get separated from your boat or from your paddle.

For someone not used to open water, the swells are going to be intimidating. Relax. As a novice (on the other side of the island, after I got past the initial HS reaction), I managed by trying to keep the horizon in view. Whenever I looked down to fiddle with map or cameraa, the nausea set in.

The Na Pali coast is an amazing place. If you're lucky, you'll get to explore some of the valleys on land and see how the flora adjusts to the sea. There are places where you pass from lush, dense rainforest on the windward side of a headland to sandy, crusty desert on the lee.

Geez, I wish I were going. Geez, I wish I were there.

Post some pics when you get back.
Paddling off Na Pali is one of the things I’ve wanted to do for a while.

It should be an epic trip. Post some pics and give a write up on how it went.

Since you asked for advise. As mentioned above, do some paddling to get in shape. Keep the following day for resting, its supposed to be a long paddle.

Have a great time.


I did this trip about 6 yrs ago and it was a gas.

We paddled in Ocean Kayak Cabo’s. A big plastic double sit on top is a lot to push for 17-18 miles in fairly rough water.

If you haven’t paddled a double before, make sure the more experienced paddler sits in the back. They have all of the control.

It’s tough because if your paddling with someone you haven’t paddled double with before, you get hit with the roughest water right at the beginning of the trip as you round the first long point. That doesn’t give you much time to get in sinc.

The nice thing is you get the roughest stuff over with right away and then it gets mellower and mellower as you get farther into the lee side of the island.

I didn’t like that they forced everyone to take seasick pills.

Be sure to train a liitle for endurance.

Eat and drink every chance you get.

Most of the people on the trip will be beginners too.

The water is warm and sit on tops are easy to get back on.

Relax and enjoy your trip.

sounds fun!
I have been thinking of a trip like this, Im curious how it goes.