Photo and story provided by Captain Chris, Na Pali Riders Raft Tours

There are several fascinating sea caves and arches on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, accessible only by small boat or kayak at certain times of the year.  During the winter season, the Na Pali Coast surf shuts down the cave entrances.  However, the summer season brings light winds and calm ocean conditions, making it safe to enter and explore the sea caves of Na Pali Coast.  You need to be on a vessel that is small enough to maneuver inside of the caves, as they are tight areas that larger boats cannot squeeze into.

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Open Ceiling Cave

One of the most famous sea caves on Na Pali Coast is the Open Ceiling Cave.  This cave is a hollowed-out lava tube on the west-end of Na Pali Coast.  The cave’s ceiling has literally fallen through to the sea floor below.  When you are entirely inside of the cave and look up, you will see the blue sky above you.  But it is the entrance to the cave that is always different, depending on the season and the time of day that you are there.  In the summer, sunbeams shoot through the entrance of the Open Ceiling Cave, penetrating through the crystal-clear water, and reflecting off of the white, sandy bottom.  The result is an amazing, heavenly-blue color that glows through the surface of the water.  Seeing this glow as you enter the cave truly adds to the experience of exploring this cave.


Wa‘iahuakua Sea Cave

Bottom-line, this is the best sea cave in Hawaii—known to most as the Double Door Cave. Entering through the back door with a trickling waterfall above, a large room appears. To the left is a narrow channel between the cave wall on the left and Death Rock. At first, the channel appears to go nowhere. Then turning a hard left, you look down a long dark hallway where there is a distant light at the end. As your eyes start to adjust to the darkness, you are pleasantly surprised with a waterfall inside the hallway, and when the afternoon summer light comes through the hole of the waterfall cave, a spotlight appears in the cave hallway, like a multi-colored glass window. Calcium deposits rise through the spot-light appearing like ghosts. The beam of light is further high-lighted by the mist from the waterfall, appearing like a scene from Star Trek. Looking at the waterfall, one almost expects to see mermaids sitting and combing their hair. This cave goes beyond any expectation.


For more information about Kauai’s sea caves, visit Na Pali Coast Magazine