8 Awesome Catamaran Tours in Kauai [2024]

Last updated:
Photo of author

Kauai is known for its impossibly green cliffs, pristine beaches, and turquoise water. One of the best ways to explore the Garden Isle is to get out on its crystal clear water, which offers a unique perspective of the island’s iconic Na Pali coastline and the rest of its stunning shoreline. Here’s 8 incredible catamaran tours in Kauai, ranging from snorkeling adventures to dinner cruises. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission, for which we are extremely grateful, at no extra cost to you.

Catamaran cruise in front of the Na Pali coast in Kauai
Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Advantages of Going on Catamaran Tours in Kauai

Listen, there are TONS of different types of boat tours in Kauai—so why should you go on a catamaran? 

Well, I’m so glad you asked! 

A catamaran is a two-hulled boat, which is usually larger than most other boat options and therefore, can comfortably fit more guests and amenities, like bathrooms. Because they hold more guests, they’re also usually more affordable than other options, like Zodiac or sailboat tours. 

Catamaran tour aboard the Lucky Lady in Kauai

Perhaps most importantly, though, catamarans are HEAVY, which allows them to cut through waves. The waves can be notoriously nasty in Kauai, especially near the Na Pali Coast, a 17-mile stretch along the northern shore of Kauai that boasts towering and jagged cliffs straight out of Jurassic Park. The landscape here is actually SO rugged that no roads reach here—the only way to access it is by helicopter, hiking trail, or boat (we’ve done all three, so we’re kind of experts over here!). 

The stability of a catamaran not only makes for a more enjoyable (and less seasick!) cruise, but also means that the captain and crew can spend more time and energy explaining the sites and incredible natural beauty of Kauai to you, instead of making sure the boat doesn’t flip over.

Catamaran on turquoise water

The only drawback to catamarans is that they tend to be a bit more crowded and less personal than some of the boat options. And, while some catamaran captains are quite daring, most of them do not zip in and out of the sea caves and arches along the Na Pali Coast, which can be one of the highlights for more adventurous travelers. 

Tip: One other thing that’s worth mentioning is that catamaran tours (and really, any other kind of tour) in Kauai are weather dependent. Kauai is the northernmost Hawaiian Island and therefore, can receive the nastiest waves of the islands, thanks to the tradewinds, especially during the wintertime.  

Accordingly, it’s not unusual for the cruises to be a bit rocky (most Kauai boat tours are not recommended for those with serious back or neck problems or who are pregnant) and tour itineraries or activities may need to be changed or tweaked, based on the weather conditions. If you’re especially prone to being sea sick or will be terribly disappointed if your tour doesn’t go as planned, this may not be the best tour option for you. 

Snorkeling Catamaran Tours in Kauai

1. Ni’ihau and Na Pali Coast Snorkel Boat Tour

  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Includes: Breakfast, lunch, drinks (including beer and wine after the snorkeling), snorkeling gear rentals

If I could only pick one of the Kauai snorkeling tours, it would ABSOLUTELY be this one. 

Much like almost all of the other catamaran tours in Kauai, you’ll cruise past the stunning cliffs of the Na Pali Coast (some which soar up to 4,000 feet high!), but you’ll also make two unique stops on this tour—the Lehua Crater and off the shores of the Forbidden Island of Ni’ihau. 

View of the Napali Coast in Kauai

The Lehau Crater is a partially submerged volcanic crater that now serves as a sanctuary for thousands of seabirds, including species that are endangered or only found in Hawaii. It’s one of the best places along Kauai to see wildlife! 

And the Forbidden Island of Niihau, a small private colony of Native Hawaiians that generally doesn’t allow outsiders to step foot on the island, is one of the most unique spots in all of Hawaii.

Because of its remoteness, the incredible clarity of the water (up to 90 feet!), and the unusual underwater topography, the water around the island is renowned for offering the best Kauai scuba diving and even some of the best snorkeling on the entire planet! Besides thousands of tropical fish, it’s not unusual to see monk seals, manta rays, sea turtles, and sharks swimming through the water as you snorkel here. 

Manta ray swimming underwater

Beyond the unique itinerary you get to enjoy on this tour, I LOVE how focused on sustainability this tour operator is.

For example, Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company that is certified by the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii, a non-profit that certifies tour operators that demonstrate a commitment to the preservation of Hawaiian culture and ecology, as well as the only tour operator that participates in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Dolphin SMART program, which promotes responsible stewardship of wild dolphins. They demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by implementing practices like giving reef-safe sunscreen to guests and its staff and using locally-sourced ingredients, reusable napkins, and cutlery for its meals. We love to see it! 

2. Napali Coast Sail & Snorkel Tour from Port Allen

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Includes: Continental breakfast, lunch, drinks (including wine and beer after snorkeling), snorkeling gear rentals

If you’re looking for a cheaper or shorter alternative to the tour above, this option is provided by the same company, but, instead of making excursions to offshore islands, it stays closer to Kauai’s shores. Don’t worry, though—you’ll still sail past the dramatic waterfalls, sea arches and caves of the Na Pali Coast. 

View of the Napali Coast in Kauai

As you cruise your way up the western coastline of Kauai, you’re almost guaranteed to see spinner dolphins, who will leap and, well, spin alongside your boat.  You’ll have a chance to go snorkeling with tropical fish and sea turtles above a reef off the western coast of the island and slide down the catamaran’s waterslide, all while taking in the epic views around you. 

One of the best things about Holo Holo Charters is its incredible staff who go out of their way to make sure your needs are being catered to, whether you’re feeling sea sick, have a dietary restriction, or are nervous about snorkeling.

Tropical fish underwater in Kauai

3. Lucky Lady – Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour

Duration: 5 hours and 30 minutes

Includes: Lunch, drinks (including beers, wine, and Mai Tais!), snorkeling gear rentals

This catamaran tour focuses on cruising to the impossibly green cliffs, valleys, and waterfalls of the Na Pali Coast. Along the way, you’ll likely see spinner dolphins and even honu (sea turtles) swimming alongside your boat.

Sea turtle swimming in Kauai

After soaking in the views of the Na Pali Coast, you’ll stop to jump (or take the waterslide!) into the warm waters and enjoy snorkeling above a coral reef, teeming with fish. 

Out of all the Napali Coast boat tours, this is the company that we chose during our recent visit on Kauai and we were SO impressed by them. For example, we didn’t have super ideal weather and the staff definitely went above and beyond to make the best of it, ensuring that we still got to take a peek at the Napali Coast and giving us extra time out on the water to watch spinner dolphins and snorkel with TONS of tropical fish (and a big honu!).  And, while we were checking in, the attendant realized that something went wrong with our lunch order and went to buy a special lunch for our dietary needs at the deli next door. They seriously have AMAZING customer service. 

View of the Napali Coast from a boat tour

Whale Watching Catamaran Tours in Kauai (Seasonal)

4. Whale Watching Cocktail Tour

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Snacks, drinks (including beer, wine, and Mai Tais!)

If you happen to be visiting during the winter in Hawaii (from December through March), this is one of the only catamaran tours in Kauai that’s specifically designed for seeing Hawaii’s most beloved winter residents, the humpback whale. As you cruise along Kauai’s southern coastline (no Na Pali coast on this one!) and scan the horizon, you can indulge in the provided pu pu platter and refreshing tropical cocktails. Beyond humpbacks and their acrobatic leaps out of the ocean, you’re also likely to spot dolphins and, if you’re lucky, turtles and even manta rays along the way. 

Humpback whale breaching in Hawaii

Again, this is the same company we went with, who offer a clean and comfortable boat and incredibly friendly staff. 

One thing that’s worth noting is that, while you can definitely see lots of humpback whales during winter in all the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is not your best option. Instead, Maui indisputably is—and arguably is even one of the best places in the world to see these majestic creatures. Accordingly, if you’re REALLY set on seeing these gentle giants, I’d suggest adding the Valley Isle to your itinerary and booking a cruise on one of these Maui whale watching tours instead.

Sunset Catamaran Tours in Kauai

5. Deluxe Na Pali Sunset Tour

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Includes: Dinner and drinks (including beer, wine, and Mai Tais)

Wanna see the Na Pali coast in the glow of the sunset? Head out on this sunset dinner cruise aboard a 60-foot luxury yacht. The boat is squeaky clean and, even though it’s rated to carry over 90 passengers, there will never be more than 49 passengers aboard to make sure everyone has plenty of space.

You’ll cruise to the Na Pali coast, enjoying the views of Kauai’s coastline and wildlife, like dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales along the way. While this isn’t a swimming or snorkeling tour, most captains will give you an opportunity to get plenty wet here, if you’re up for the adventure! 

And as you leave the jagged cliffs of the Na Pali coast behind you and the sun sinks into the Pacific, you’ll enjoy a (surprisingly good!) three-course meal of island-inspired food (think island-style taco buffet) and unlimited drinks, including Mai Tais. 

Dolphins jumping in Kauai

The staff goes above and beyond to make sure you’re having an incredible (and safe!) time aboard the boat.

6. Napali Sunset Sightseeing Tour

  • Duration: 4 to 5 hours
  • Includes: Dinner and drinks (including craft beer, wine, and Mai Tais)

On this sunset dinner tour, you’ll board the Holoholo 65-foot catamaran, which was actually designed and built on Kauai. This boat has a low center of gravity and is generally more stable (and thus, less sea sickness-inducing) than many of the double decker catamarans used by other companies. 

During your journey to the Na Pali Coast, you’ll get to spot wildlife, like dolphins, flying fish, and pelagic seabirds. The captain does an excellent job of explaining the history of the landmarks or pointing out wildlife that you’ll pass during your journey. 

View of the Napali Coast in Kauai

Of course, the highlight is passing the Na Pali Coast, with its dramatic sea arches, tumbling waterfalls, and seemingly omnipresent rainbows. The jagged cliffs look even more stunning with the golden hour light cast upon them. 

Beyond just a scenic cruise, you’ll get a three course meal with tropical-themed cuisine, with lots of local touches, like the Koloa Rum Ginger Mai Tais and Kauai Coffee Coconut Caramel Crunch Brownies. And as the sun sinks below the horizon, you’ll send it off with a sparkling wine toast—it seriously feels like something straight out of a movie!

7. Na Pali Sunset Dinner Sail

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Includes: Dinner and drinks (including craft beer, wine, and Mai Tais)

Okay, this is basically the exact same tour as the one above—same tour operator, same brownies, same straight-out-of-a-movie vibes. But this option is aboard the 50-foot sailing catamaran Leila, so that, if conditions allow, you can actually sail to the Na Pali coast! 

Catamaran in front of Napali Coast in Kauai

Leila shares many of the same qualities as Holoholo, including being designed and built in Kauai and offering a low center of gravity and stability. Although this boat is smaller than Holoholo, you’ll still have plenty of space to enjoy the cruise, with plenty of shade and two bathrooms aboard.

8. Catamaran Sunset Cruise

  • Duration: One and a half hours
  • Includes: Appetizers and full-service bar

If you’ve already seen the Na Pali coast, like on one of the Kauai helicopter tours, or are just looking for something different or more affordable, consider going on this sunset cruise, which cruises along the southeastern portion of the island in the Hulei’a River and the Nawiliwili Bay. To be honest, one of the coolest things about this option is that it sails around a portion of Kauai that most catamaran tours (wrongly!) skip! 

Dolphins jumping in Kauai

Aboard the 50-foot catamaran, you’ll have a good chance of seeing dolphins and, in the wintertime, whales, as well as fascinating sites that most visitors will never see. For example, you’ll pass the Alekoko Menehune Fish Pond, which was built over 1,000 years ago, and the Hulei’a National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to dozens of species of birds that are endangered or are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. 

As you watch the sunset over the stunning landscape, you can indulge in unlimited tropical drinks from the bar and snack on tasty appetizers. 


Phew—so many catamaran tours in Kauai to choose from, so little time! Do you have any questions about the tours above? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading our post! Check out our latest stories here and follow us on Instagram (@UprootedTraveler), YouTube, or on Facebook to see what we’re up to next!

Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Leave a Comment

Want to work with us?

Ask us any questions