What are the best boat tours in Hawaii?: Travel Weekly


Christine Hitt

Christine Hitt

It’s not difficult to find a boat tour in Hawaii — the islands are surrounded by water, after all. Your clients who are headed to the state have plenty to choose from, whether they’re looking for a scenic cruise, whale-watching cruise, happy-hour cruise or sunset cruise, to name just a few.

I’ve been on my fair share of sailings and have had a great time, every time. But here are some that have stood out the most to me.

Kauai’s Napali coastline: One boat ride along the Napali Coast is just not enough. I’ve done it three times and could go again and again. I love staring at the beautiful, tall cliffs and valleys and their beaches. The most memorable for me was aboard Makana Charters’ 12-passenger boat. I recommend this smaller boat, as it has a higher chance of entering the sea caves, depending on ocean conditions. Though I had toured the Napali Coast before, this was my first time going into the caves, and it really makes the trip extra special.

Maui whale watch: Although there are whale-watching tours leaving from some of the other islands, the experience off Maui can’t be beat for the number of whales that passengers will see breaching. What I love about PacWhale Eco-Adventures is that it’s run by Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit that’s dedicated to saving the whales. This means there’s experts onboard with enough knowledge to answer pretty much any question you have about whales.

Oahu ocean voyage: Oahu probably has more boat tours to choose from than any of the islands, but my recommendation is one that might not be on your radar. Most people visit Kualoa Ranch to see some of Hawaii’s famous filming locations, such as the one for “Jurassic Park,” but there are other tours here, too. For instance, the Ocean Voyage Tour features calm, turquoise waters and beautiful scenery on the windward side of the island. The best part? You’ll learn a bit about Hawaiian culture, too, as you start off by crossing an 800-year-old fishpond.

Lanai sunset cruise: I’ve found that the smaller boats with less people have always provided the most satisfying sunset cruising experience. Lanai Ocean Sports’ sunset sail experience checks all the boxes for me. It’s a 65-foot sailing catamaran that averages about 20 passengers per trip, and it sails up the southern coastline and back on a two-hour tour. The ride is exceptionally relaxing, and getting a view of the coastline of Lanai is something that not many other visitors to Hawaii can say they have done.

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