10 Essential Things You Should Bring for a Na Pali Coast Tour

View From the Top or From the Waters: Discover the Best Way to Explore the Na Pali Coast

In Adventure, Na Pali Coast by Makana Charters1 Comment

Have your tickets booked, swimsuit picked, and expectations all spiked? Sounds like you’re almost ready to enjoy the lush Garden Isle of Hawaii. And while Kauai will definitely live up to its promise to bring you nothing but breezy time, there are quite a few pleasant dilemmas to face when arranging your travels to Kauai:

Hundreds of thousands of people have made this decision before you—so you’ll likely hear a lot of fragmented feedback that may be too subjective to take into account. So we’ve rounded up some of the key pros and cons of both a helicopter and a boat tour so you can finally set your mind about enjoying the Na Pali Coast view from the top or up close from the water.

Boat or Helicopter — Choosing the Best Way to Tour the Na Pali Coast

Na Pali coastline spans across 17 miles, and it’s probably one of the most magical yet hard-to-access spots in Kauai. You’ll see a lot of people enticing you to choose a helicopter tour over a boat ride, and vice versa, but really—it all depends on the kind of experience you want and what exactly you want to see while looking at the gliding Na Pali coastline.

Is it all prettier from above? Taking a helicopter to view the Na Pali Coast

Nothing can match a panoramic view of the Na Pali Coast from a helicopter. After all, you can get a holistic view of one of the world’s most impressive coastlines—the emerald green cliffs (Na Pali actually means “cliffs”), pristine blue waters, and rich nature.

Moreover, you can catch a glimpse of the Waimea Canyon (the Hawaiian version of the Grand Canyon) and the lush Hanapepe and Hanalei valleys.


  • Mesmerizing views you won’t see with any other mode of transportation.
  • A chance to record these beautiful views in photos. Make sure, though, to choose a helicopter tour that leaves the doors open as glass reflects the sun so you might get some glares on your pictures.


  • The price: a helicopter tour might cost more than your tickets to Hawaii, so although it’s a one-of-a-kind but also an expensive experience.
  • Duration: unlike a much lengthier boat tour, a helicopter tour only lasts for about an hour.
  • Safety/health: if you feel sick on planes, helicopter rides are typically even shakier, so take that into account when going for Na Pali views from the above. 

Roam, roam, roaming through the Na Pali Coast by a boat

There is something glamorous about taking a nice and slow boat to enjoy the teeming nature of the Na Pali Coast.

But it’s not just about the ambiance. Na Pali boat tours typically last anywhere between 3 to 6 hours so you have a lot of time to explore the coastline and even enjoy some action whilst on a tour.


  • Beyond the views: a helicopter tour is simply about mesmerizing views. A boat tour, however, goes beyond a mere visual experience—you can take a refreshing dip in the ocean, greet the dolphins, and observe the infamous Hawaiian sea turtles.
  • Na Pali’s history: since a boat tour goes on for hours, you typically have a guide who will share some of the most fascinating stories about the Na Pali Coast, its settlement history, as well as interesting facts about the wildlife.


  • Safety/health: if you get seasick, being on a boat for ours might get you there. So make sure to take some Dramamine before boarding and you should be good to go.
  • Sun exposure: since you will want to spend most of your time on the deck savoring the Na Pali’s coastal views, you will be exposed to the sun. A lot. So make sure to apply a lot of sunscreen and even take some more with you to avoid any sunburns. 

Over to You

Whatever way you choose to roam the Na Pali coast, one thing is guaranteed—you will be awed by the overwhelming natural beauty. 

But if you want our opinion—a boat tour will probably give you the best value for the buck, and…you will get to see the awe-inspiring coastline of Na Pali twice, so one time you can just enjoy the view, and keep the return journey for all the pictures and activities.

Browse through our various boat tours and choose the one that best matches your expectations and desires!


  1. Our family recently took the tour on the Seiko with Sean and Jamie. It was the most beautiful,amazing and breathtaking experience of our entire trip. Jamie and Sean are knowledgeable, friendly, attentive and FUN! Great experience!

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