My family with two kids (8 and 10) had a fantastic tour with Captain Makai.
We shared the tour with a really great couple from Germany who we met up during the tour.
Captain Makai is chilled out Hawaiian style and makes you feel totally at home. He called us the previous evening to let us know that we would start an hour late as it was raining the previous night. This was perfectly fine with us as it gave us an extra hour of sleep. We were there at the harbor at 8.30am and he showed up and ran us through our instructions. We leisurerly made our way around to the Napali coast.
He kept a very nice commentary going - pointing out local facts and maneuvered the boat really well to avoid a bumpy ride. I was a bit worried about my wife getting sea-sick but he just did a great job. In the end, I was glad we paid extra and did not take the catamaran with our kids. I am sure the catamarans on the inflatables are faster but definitely a bumpier ride and spray which I wasn't sure my kids would have enjoyed.
We came across a pod of spinner dolphins about 15 of them. We slowed down and spent about 15 minutes coasting with them and taking pictures. After that we reached the open sea cave which I was really looking forward to. Captain Makai took us inside and I knew I had made the right decision as there were a few big sailboats that couldnt' make it inside. My advice is that if you want a leisurely and private tour that takes you into the open sea cave - definitely go with Makai or a boat of his size. Worth the price.
We also backed into another cave which was pretty cool and scooted under a small waterfall. Pretty cool.
After that we stopped for lunch and snorkeling. The snorkeling is ok here compared to what we did in Big Island previously. Having said that, Capt Makai had everything we needed including anti fog for the masks. He had packed vegetarian sandwiches for us on request and that was great.
We then reluctantly made our way back after a fantastic 3-4 hours. Definitely a highlight of our trip.
1. Especially with kids, use the restrooms before you go, there are no stops on the way.
2. Bring towels from your hotel. Also, if you get cold easy, bring change of clothing and a light hoodie or jacket. We had a really warm day but on the way back after snorkeling, did need towels around us.
3. Take your camera with you and if it's not waterproof take a Ziploc bag. The boat has a dry cabinet to keep your bags and other things dry if you need to put them somewhere from the spray.
4. If your kids like jumping into the water - they can jump from the shade on top of the boat.
5. Stop at Jojo's shaved ice on the way back from the harbor if you are heading east.
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