An all day, rigorous, 17-mile paddle in rough seas next to soaring cliffs, intermittent waterfalls, swathes of valleys brimming with mangos and guava, sea caves, whales breaching, dolphins leaping and the occasional rainbow? Now that’s a honeymoon.
You’ve been kayaking together for years. When you first met him, you knew he was the one. You’d never met anybody else as crazy about paddling as you — he might even love it more than you do. Most of your free time together is spent in a kayak, canoe (or any vessel you can find) splashing across whatever body of water you come across. The activity has kept you fit, but more than that, it has bonded you together for life. Naturally, when it came to planning your honeymoon you hoped he would agree. “Where do you want to go?” you had asked, willing him to read your mind.
“Napali Coast?” He said, knowing it was the right answer.
You’d both laughed and hugged, delighted at that synchronicity and connection. Of course, he too, wants to go to the Garden Isle of Kauai for the same reason you do. To paddle. On Kauai, together, during your long-awaited honeymoon, you’ll take on the Everest of sea kayaking — the storied, sometimes harrowing, utterly exhausting, forever jaw dropping, cliff-edged, remote stretch known as the Napali Coastline.
You arrive to the emerald-green island late afternoon, just in time to pick up a rental car and stop at your first hotel, The Sheraton Kaua’i Coconut Beach Resort, a boutique beachfront resort in the characteristic town of Kapa’a. You choose it for its aura of barefoot elegance and ideal location to both the island’s North and South shores. With views of the mountains and ocean, it immediately immerses you both in the quintessence of the Hawaii of your dreams. Palm trees sway, the fire pits are lit, an infinity pool seems to flow to the sea and your ocean-facing room has a huge terrace. Lucky for you, it’s luau night, as well, so you have the chance to learn to hula, sing along to ukulele players, see fire dancers and gobble up classic items, such as kalua pork and huli huli chicken. Stuffed, you stumble to bed.
You’ve planned your honeymoon with the Napali kayak expedition as the grand finale. So, you explore the Hawaiian Islands’ fourth largest, northernmost and oldest island through a range of activities arranged, in part, by the hotel’s knowledgeable and affable staff. You take in its tropical rainforests on a tubing trip down a crystalline river, eyeing some cascading waterfalls as you float. One morning you bike Waimea Canyon all the way to the sea, watching as the sun rise casts a panoply of hues. You ride horses, hover like a bird in a helicopter, scuba dive, rock climb, snorkel from a sleek catamaran, drink exotic cocktails in adorable, small towns — Hanapepe, Koloa, Hanalei and Waimea, and hike through Kokeʻe State Park. You sample sushi and shave ice — and take turns trying to pronounce Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the name of Hawaii’s state fish.
Finally, the big day comes. You leave from Kauai’s north shore just after sunrise, your gear packed in dry bags. You launch with your guide from Ha’ena Beach, where the ocean looks thankfully calm. But the waves become more unbridled, and soon you’re bobbing roller coaster-style through the choppy water. Soaring cliffs hold sea caves, enlivened by waterfalls. The rocks seem to touch the sky. The views take your mind off the pain in your muscles as the hours pass. It’s a long arduous day — just what you wanted. You finish with some excitement. Paddling too hard you manage to overturn the craft, dumping one another into the frothy sea. Thankfully, your guide talks you through climbing back in — and in a short time you reach the end of the marathon. You return to the hotel with an endorphin high, and photos you will cherish for the rest of your lives.