800mm Z Lens Climb Events Fishing Hike Kauai Na Pali Coast Nikon Z9 PhaseOne Photography Z9 400MM F2.8 Lens

Capturing Kauai: Beach Canyon Ridge Coast and whales

There is a place where in close proximity, you can take in a sunset and a sunrise on a wilderness beach, hike into a canyon 3,500 feet deep with an 800 foot waterfall in full view and minutes later stand on a mountain cliffside 1,200 feet over the Pacific Ocean. While not recommended, those of you who are pressed for time can experience it all in less than 24 hours.

In this area you can also experience wildlife, such as Ibex Mountain Goats and feral Boar, Humpback Whales and rare tropical birds.

You can also experience helicopters crossing in front and beneath you.  And on the coast you can view all kinds of watercraft – large and small – crossing in front of and beneath you.

All of this occurs if you are visiting (or live on) the Island of Kauai in the State of Hawaii in the United States.

All of these places are a few miles apart on the western side of Kauai.

For those planning a visit to Kauai, the north shore of the island is green and magical.  The south shore of the island is a sunny delight.  Both are superb spots for visitors to the island.  Both areas have materially more nightlife and commercial retail to offer.  In comparison, the west side is sleepy and old school.  The west side has great services.  They are smaller and more laid back and local in nature. However, the north shore and south shore areas cannot match the west side in terms of variety and complexity in a natural setting.

​Helicopters and boats

A helicopter on the Na Pali Coast from Jeff’s Secret Coast Spot ©.
A helicopter at Waipo’o Falls from Jeff’s Secret Canyon Spot ©.
A catamaran on the Na Pali Coast from Jeff’s Secret Coast Spot ©.
An exciting landing at Kikiololo Small Boat Harbor from Jeff’s Secret Harbor Spot ©.

The view of the canyon and the coast

Waipo’o Falls in Waimea Canyon of Kauai from Jeff’s Secret Canyon Spot ©.
The Na Pali Coast and Polihale Beach – from Jeff’s Secret Coast Spot ©

Sunset and Sunrise

Sunset on the beach in Waimea.
The sun rises on the beach at the break-wall of Kikiololo Small Boat Harbor.

On this day it is…whales, whales, whales

The fun and enjoyment experienced in the late morning and early afternoon is all about whales.  Humpback Whales cavorting in the Kaulakahi Channel.  The Kaulakahi Channel is 17 miles wide and separates the islands of Kauai  and Niihau.  The whales are located 2-3 miles off shore.  I can hear them better than see them.  I can barely pull in images with my long prime lenses (400MM, 560MM, 800MM).

Flipping tail up and down.

Ultimately, the Humpback’s put on a show for all to see. I take in a 90 minute show. For a period of time, the whales perform almost exclusively for the patrons aboard the fleet of Makana Charter Tour boats.

The four boats of Makana Tours gather after having a swim and lunch break off shore. In a few moments the boats begin a sprint towards a viewing spot a safe distance from the whales.
Amelia K.
A Humpback whale breaches and dives into the water in full view of the patrons of Makana Charter Tours – Amelia K, Makana, and Billy from Jeff’s Secret Coast Spot ©

It was fun to take in the whole operation from a territorial perspective.  Over the next few weeks, the whales will head north into the Pacific.

— Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Trivia —

The map below represents my trip for the day.  The redline marks the route.  Linda, The Border Collies and yours truly start the day at sunrise.  From the house, we walk the beach to the boat harbor and back.  We say high to almost every boat operator – including those of Makana.  The round-trip is four miles in length.

Once back at the house, I pack up my gear, jump in the truck, and head to my spots in the Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast.  Okay, the spots are not my exclusive domain or shrouded in secrecy.  However, they are not marked or well known. You really need to know the area and be comfortable with variable terrain.

On this day, I stuff my biggest pack with as much gear as possible.  I even carry one camera (with 800M lens attached) in my hand.  It weighs in just north of 60lbs.  Ugh!

So what did I bring?

2 Nikon Z9 35MM cameras

400/560 MM Nikon lens

800 MM Nikon lens

20 MM Nikon Lens

50 MM Nikon Lens

Nikon Optical lens 2x

PHASEONE IQ4 151MP Digital Back

Cambo 5000 Technical Camera

60MM Rodenstock lens for Cambo

PHASEONE XF 4 by 5 Camera

PHASEONE Blue Ring 55MM Lens

PHASEONE Blue Ring 240MM Lens

IPhone 10 Camera

Tripod with Head


Over the day, I use every item except for the doubler – which I should have tried.

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