Kauai Small Ship Cruises

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Kauai Small Ship Cruises

Adventure Cruises in Kauai

About Kauai cruises

Kauai cruises are ideal for nature lovers. They allow visitors to tour the most down-to-earth of the inhabited Hawaiian islands, sometimes referred to as the Garden Isle.

Don't plan your trip expecting sprawling five-star resorts or modern skylines. Instead, adventure cruises to Kauai focus on ancient rainforests, towering waterfalls, and some of the region's most pristine beaches. Below the waves, thriving coral reefs and dramatic lava tubes and caves set the stage for exploration with world-class snorkeling and scuba diving.

Top Things to Do in Kauai

Because Kauai is smaller and less developed than many other Hawaiian islands, small-ship cruises can easily hit multiple destinations daily. This allows for various adventure activities, following weather and wildlife along the coast.

Swim and Snorkel on the Wild North Shore

Kauai cruise itineraries visit pristine reefs with exciting local wildlife, including sea turtles, rare Hawaiian monk seals, and colorful fish by the thousand. You'll also enjoy a backdrop of dramatic scenery, with lava tubes, giant coral bommies, towering cliffs, and sea caves.

In Kauai's north, many of the best swimming and snorkeling areas are only accessible by boat, so you're unlikely to spot other groups in the water. Exploring further from the shore also makes it easier to swim here, keeping far from the breaking surf where conditions might be a bit rougher.

Marvel at the Dramatic Napali Coast

Small ship cruises offer several options ranging from mild to wild for exploring this dramatic 17-mile stretch of coastline. Stay onboard your adventure cruise ship for a chance to motor up and down the shoreline, gazing upward at towering cliffs and watching for wildlife like whales and dolphins.

Intrepid visitors can go ashore for challenging trekking and climbing on the legendary Kalalau Trail, known for its panoramic inland and ocean vistas. Helicopter tours are also available, offering a bird's eye view of the famous Napali cliffs, surrounded by golden sand and beautiful blue water.

Visit the Grand Canyon of the Pacific

Located in Kauai's remote northwestern interior, Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park offer some of the island's most impressive scenery. Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, this 14-mile-long, 3,600-foot-deep gorge is blanketed with lush vegetation, dotted by dramatic waterfalls, and home to rare wildlife not seen elsewhere in the archipelago.

Cruise itineraries typically incorporate stops here as optional guided shore excursions, with naturalist group leaders to help show guests the way. Multiple lookout points along the canyon's rim make it easy to enjoy world-class views without too much trekking.

Explore Miles of Golden Sand

No matter which coasts your Kaui cruise spends the most time on, expect beautiful footprint-free beaches with soft, powdery sand and a lovely golden hue. Because this island is less developed than most archipelago, its beaches are less eroded and boast far more natural scenery.

The island's west coast is home to Polihale State Park and Ke'e Beach, where you'll find plenty of swaying palms and views of the Napali cliffs. Tunnels Beach boasts some of the island's best swimming, and both Kalapaki and Poipu are ideal for sunbathing and strolling.

Top Tips for visiting Kauai (only if tips are applicable)

Kauai is one of the world's wettest places, with near-daily downpours and a more humid climate than the surrounding islands. Don't forget to pack an umbrella or raincoat and sturdy shoes that can stand up to mud, especially if you plan to participate in inland hiking or trekking.

You won't find nearly as many shopping options on Kauai as elsewhere in the archipelago. So, it's essential to pack carefully and arrive with all the essentials from home.

Best time to cruise Kauai

Kauai is the wettest of the Hawaiian islands, with a peak in daily rainfall from October through February. Daily temperatures range from the mid-60s to the upper 80s all year round, with intense tropical sun and humidity most afternoons.

Plan to cruise Kauai between April and June or September and November. The weather is at its best during these months, and the island sees fewer visitors. If you decide to travel during the winter peak, plan ahead by packing plenty of gear for wet weather and a patient attitude toward other tourists.

Where do Kauai cruises depart from?

The Nawiliwili Harbor is Kauai's largest seaport, but adventure cruises often skip the area, opting for smaller anchorages on the island's western coast. This approach gives visitors easy access to many of the island's top attractions and stunning views of the rugged coastline.

Kauai adventure cruises typically start and end elsewhere in the archipelago, with itineraries touring multiple islands in just one trip. So, don't count on starting or ending your adventure here.

The Lihue airport, located close to the harbor, connects Kauai to the western United States and the rest of the archipelago with daily flights. Though several other airstrips are on the island, they are typically used for chartered flights only.

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