Sea Turtles, Whales, and Dolphins Oh My!

A highlight of our Kaua’i vacation was a catamaran snorkel cruise that included a trip to the Na Pali Coast. This fifteen-mile stretch of rugged coastline on the northwest shore of Kaua’i literally means “the Cliffs.” Much of the Na Pali Coast is inaccessible because of its sheer cliffs that drop straight down for thousands of feet into the ocean. Sailing, rafting and hiking are the best ways to experience the beauty of Na Pali.

We left from Port Allen at 7:30 a.m. It was already almost 70 degrees F, and the trade winds were very light.

Catamaran identical to the one that we sailed on.

Catamaran identical to the one that we sailed on.


Cute tour guides!

The local tour guides were really nice!


Eric Norris, island hair.

Eric enjoyed the view from the bridge of the catamaran.

As we prepared for snorkeling, I saw this beautiful Tropicbird hovering above the swim deck. I did not have a birding lens with me, but this beautiful bird is worth sharing, even if the photo is imperfect.

White-tailed Tropicbird

White-tailed Tropicbird

We spent an hour or so snorkeling in the beautiful coral reefs. The coral and the fish were beautiful, but my underwater camera equipment was totally inadequate. However, the sea turtles stayed around after we finished snorkeling. Chelonia mydas, commonly known as Green Sea Turtles (Honu) are abundant in warm Hawai’ian waters. They feed on sea grasses below the surface.

Hawai'ian Green Sea Turtle (Honu).

Hawai'ian Green Sea Turtle (Honu).


Honu, another view.

Honu, another view.

As we powered toward the Na Pali coast (the winds were too calm for sailing) we passed abandoned sugar mills.

Abandoned sugar mill in Waimea, Kaua'i.

Abandoned sugar mill in Waimea, Kaua'i.


The sugar industry has gone through a dramatic transformation in the past decade following previous decades of decline. It dropped from 55 farms producing 6.5 million tons of cane in 1990 to only two farms producing 2.1 million tons of cane in 2002. Sugar production has been largely replaced by corn seed production. Corn represents the core seed product in Hawaii, representing $214 million of the industry’s value last year.

We could see the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau in the distance.

The forbidden island of Ni'ihau.

The forbidden island of Ni'ihau.

As we continued past the Pacific Range Missle Facility and Barking Sands beach we saw our first Humpback Whales. I was able to photograph parts of whales.

Humpback Whale seen off Barking Sands Beach.

Humpback Whale seen off Barking Sands Beach.


Humpback Whale seen off Barking Sands Beach.

Humpback Whale, another view.

Not long afterwards we were approached by a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. We enjoyed watching them as they swam alongside the catamaran.

Bottlenose dolphins swimming toward the catamaran.

Bottlenose dolphins swimming toward the catamaran.


This Bottlenose Dolphin came right up to the boat.

This Bottlenose Dolphin came right up to the boat.


The initial views of the Na Pali coast were breathtaking.
View of the Na Pali Coast.

View of the Na Pali Coast.


View of the Na Pali Coast.

A closer view of the Na Pali Coast.


As we admired the wonderful scenery, the captain of the boat spotted a pod of Spinner Dolphins directly ahead. Their antics were totally enchanting, and they put on a marvelous display for us.
Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin flip.


Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin dive.


Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin acrobatics.

After some additional time out on the ocean we began our return trip. The sun on the Na Pali cliffs was beautiful.

Cliffs on the Na Pali Coast.

Cliffs on the Na Pali Coast.


Lovely waterfall on the Napali Coast.

Lovely waterfall.


We were fortunate to see more migrating Humpback Whales on the way back to Port Allen.
Migrating Humpback Whale

This migrating Humpback Whale …


Migrating Humpback Whale

… begins its dive …


Migrating Humpback Whale

… and waves good-bye.


It was a perfect end to a wonderful day.

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7 Comments

Filed under Kaua'i birds. Kaua'i sea mammals, Kaua'i scenery

7 responses to “Sea Turtles, Whales, and Dolphins Oh My!

  1. Beautiful glimpse of paradise. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Incredible! How exciting for you. Wonderful photos & post. Just inspiring!

  3. Fabulous post!! So happy you and Eric had such a beautiful vacation!!!!

  4. Oh Linda! What a marvelous outing. Such beautiful sights! Breathtaking scenic shots and glorious dolphin and whale images. Thank you for taking us along on your wonderful adventure. Always a joy to view your blog.

  5. Nigella hillgarth

    What a great trip! Especially liked the dolphins and the turtle photos

  6. Maki T

    Great photos! Love the dolphins & the island is sooo beautiful. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  7. Wow – stunning! Love the flipping spinners🙂

    Aren’t the tropicbirds beautiful? They look like enchanted messengers from another realm.

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