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Free Napali Coast boat tours offered

KEKAHA — Tour operators at Kikialoa Small Boat Harbor are offering free Napali Coast sightseeing tours for Kaua‘i residents on July 26, following the official veto of a bill that aimed to reduce their commercial boating operations.

All 10 sightseeing companies that run out of the harbor have banded together to host the event, which will allow more than 200 Kaua‘i residents to experience Napali Coast through a complimentary boat tour.

Nick Croft, of Explore Kaua‘i Scuba, said the “‘ohana day” is a kind of “thank you” event for community residents who spoke out against House Bill 1090, which could have canceled 15 of the roughly 25 boating permits at Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor. Gov. Josh Green issued his intent to veto HB 1090 on June 23, and the bill was officially vetoed on July 7.

“The bill being vetoed, it’s awesome. I couldn’t be more happy. It was the scariest thing ever,” said Croft, who was worried HB 1090 would force him out of business.

But Croft noted that he and other tour operators found the bill had a “silver lining” in creating a greater focus on the environment.

“We want to use this bill as like a motivational thing on how to better our community and how to better the harbor,” he said.

Croft said he and others are expecting to hear more from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) regarding how the harbors will be managed. The DLNR previously stated HB 1090 was necessary due to overuse and the over-commercialization of the state’s nearshore waters and public facilities.

“We definitely hope that the DLNR is seeing what we’re doing and stuff like that to show that it’s about the community and not just ourselves,” Croft said. “If they have concerns, we’re here to listen and work with them, versus like such a rude bill that came out of nowhere and scared us for our lives.”

‘Just a start’

Local residents were quick to sign up for the event on
Wednesday morning, with all companies being fully booked within a couple of hours of the event going live on social media.

“I’ve never had so many phone calls in my life in one day, in one morning,” said Croft. “It’s awesome, and it’s cool that it got that big a response, and I look forward to doing it every year.”

In addition to making the day an annual event, Croft said the tour companies are also brainstorming other future activities, including coastal cleanups, trash pickups and potential fishing tournaments.

Candice Le Croix, a captain and manager at Na Pali Experience, also spoke of plans for other future events in a separate interview with The Garden Island.

“We’re in the process of starting a nonprofit called the Kikiaola Boaters Alliance,” she said.

Le Croix is “super excited” for the launch of their annual community day, adding the majority of people from Kaua‘i have never seen Napali Coast.

“It’s a crazy, crazy fact,” she said. “Most people can’t really afford to go on these tours that are targeted for visitors. So one of the aims of this event was to kind of give back to the community and give local people opportunities to go out when otherwise they might not.”

The individual companies will often give locals a free spot on tours when there’s extra space available, said Le Croix, but there has never been a day dedicated to Kaua‘i residents.

“This is just a start. This is just one community event that we’re going to be moving forward with,” she said.

All tours at the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor are fully booked for the July 26 event, but people still interested in joining can send an email to one of the 10 participating companies to be placed on a waiting list.

“You never know, they could have some openings. And if they’re on the wait list, I’ll give them a call,” said Le Croix.

The 10 companies offering free Napali Coast tours to Kaua‘i residents on July 26 are Na Pali Experience, Na Pali Pirates, Blue Ocean Adventures, Komohana Yacht Charters, Explore Kauai Scuba, Captain Kamua Na Pali Dream Tours, Na Pali Odyssey, Kaulana Pali Kai, Makana Charters and Tours, and Captain Andy’s.


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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