A self-supported trip on Kauai’s rugged north coast
Photos and captions by Noah Couser
I raised my gaze from the wind-chopped sea and saw that we were surrounded by roughly 30 spinner dolphins, jumping, diving and swimming with aquatic dexterity I could only dream of. Behind the water they were playing in, the early morning mist crept up 3,000-foot emerald cliffs like a moody blanket. Moments like these were why my wife and I and two other couples made the long journey to Kauai from Montana. We paddled and camped along the Garden Island's rugged and remote Nā Pali Coast and experienced a world like we'd never seen before. And we came back with the photos to prove it.
L: Megan Couser, Katie French and Brooke Koperski ride wind-swept waves in the final stretch before Kalalau Beach. // R: The SUP bed was the envy of all the backpackers who had hiked the eleven sweaty miles into camp.
L: A five-minute rainstorm followed by a double rainbow was a perfect Hawaiian send-off on day one of our trip from Ke'e Beach. // R: Tired of fighting the relentless waves and chop, we decided to work smarter and not harder by rigging up some hammock sails and cruising down the coastline.
L: It's easy to feel small looking up at 3,000-foot cliffs, backed by countless stars, laid out over an endless ocean. // R: Katie and Brooke paddle through the mist just past the famous Honopu Beach.
L: After a restless night of listening to the surf pound the shore with increasing strength, we prepare to launch from Kalalau Beach. // R: Dinner is served.
L: Yet another gorgeous waterfall view; each of the narrow valleys we passed were carved by water over millions of years. // R: Megan lounges in one of the most serene campsites we've ever enjoyed.
L: Shorebreak isn't easy to navigate for folks that live in Montana. Brooke comes up sputtering but game for another try. // R: One advantage of paddling with your gear rather than hiking is the ability to bring ample provisions (beer). Brandon snorkels his post-lunch brew.
Brooke paddles into the Open Ceiling Cave, a giant cavern whose ceiling collapsed, leaving a gaping hole to the sky.
Noah Couser is a regular contributor for SUP Magazine. This feature was originally published and profiled on the cover in SUP’s 2017 Winter Issue.
Read more about Couser and Co.’s Hawaiian SUP Adventure in “Five Reasons to SUP the Nā Pali Coast.”