t age 19, Andy Evans already was an
old salt when he first set eyes on Kauai's Na Pali coast. It was
June 1980, and he had just sailed alone to Hawaii from Ventura,
Calif., in a 24-foot sloop.
After anchoring in Hanalei Harbor, Evans hit the waves in nearby
Haena. There he met Clancy Greff, who was operating Na Pali tours
under the name Captain Zodiac.
"Here's this friendly guy who says, 'Hey, wanna join my tour
group?' " Evans recalled.
It was Evans' first experience in a Zodiac, an inflatable
rigid-hull raft known for its speed and maneuverability.
"I had never seen anything like it before," he said. "Na Pali
blew my mind -- those spectacular green cliffs, caves tucked along
the base that you wouldn't see unless you were up as close as we
were, waterfalls flowing thousands of feet to the sea."
Evans was planning to sail back to California, but he wound up
staying in Hawaii for good. Over the next four years, he worked for
Greff in the summer (Zodiacs can't operate off Na Pali in the
winter because of the turbulent wave action), and sailed catamarans
off Waikiki the rest of the year.
In 1984, Evans started his own tour business, Capt. Andy's
Sailing, and this June he founded a separate company, Captain
Zodiac Rafting Expeditions, under a licensing agreement with Greff,
who now is headquartered in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.
Captain Zodiac Rafting Expeditions currently is running two
Zodiacs to Na Pali -- the 36-foot, 25-passenger Ihe Kai (Sea
Spear), which is equipped with a canopy, a real bathroom and
comfortable, ergonomic seating, and the 24-foot, 15-passenger
Evans expects another 24-foot Zodiac to be put into service this
On the morning expedition aboard Ihe Kai, you can spot marine
life, explore sea caves, and go snorkeling.
The day expedition on Discovery includes all this plus a beach
landing at Nualolo Kai. Once there, you can snorkel, hike or hop
back into the raft for further exploration of the coast. Evans
describes the Zodiac excursions as "true adventures."
"They're wet, wild and really fun, but they're more strenuous
than most people imagine," he said. "This experience calls to that
special person who wants to be right on the water, bumping through
every wave, getting wet and having marine life within an arm's
On a typical day, clients will see sea turtles, rays, a variety
of fish and curious spinner dolphins who often swim within a few
feet of the raft. The rafts zip into lava tubes, sea caves and
other places that larger vessels can't visit.
According to Evans, a Zodiac excursion is an amazing journey of
discovery in more ways than one."When you're in this little raft
beneath 3,000-foot-high cliffs, that really puts you in your
place," he said. "You realize you're a very small piece in the
grand scheme of things."
Na Pali Morning Expedition
Where: Tour departs from Port Allen Harbor from
May through September.
When: 6:30 a.m. to noon (check-in at 6 a.m.)
Cost: $109 for adults, $79 for children age 5
through 12. Includes a deli lunch. Note: This tour is not
appropriate for children under age 5, pregnant women or people with
Contact: Phone: (800) 535-0830
Other Captain Zodiac tours:
Na Pali Day Expedition
Departs: Daily at 1 p.m.; returns at sunset.
Cost: $139 per adult and $109 per child, including
a pulehu (grilled) beef and teriyaki chicken dinner.
What: Three-hour whale-watching cruises along
Kauai's south shore are available from Dec. 20 through April
Departs: 1 p.m. daily.
Cost: $75 per adult and $60 per child. Includes