Boat Tours and Charters in Honolulu and Oahu

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Boat Tours and Charters

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Being on the water can be the best way to enjoy the Islands. Whether you want to see the fish in action or experience how they taste, there is a tour for you.

For a sailing experience in Oahu, you need go no farther than the beach in front of your hotel in Waikiki. Strung along the sand are seven beach catamarans that will provide you with one-hour rides during the day and 90-minute sunset sails. Look for $23 to $25 for day sails and $30 to $34 for sunset rides. Feel free to haggle, especially with the smaller boats. Some provide drinks for free, some charge for them, and some let you pack your own, so keep that in mind when pricing the ride.

Hawaii Nautical. With one location in Waikiki and one on the Waianae Coast, this outfit offers a wide variety of cruise options including guaranteed dolphin sightings, gourmet dinners, lunches, snorkeling, scuba diving, or sunset viewing. Three-hour cruises, including lunch and two drinks, depart from the Hilton in Waikiki.

For those interested in leaving from the Waianae Coast, three-hour morning and two-hour afternoon snorkel tours are available from the Waianae Boat Harbor on Farrington Hwy. (91-607 Malakole St., Tel. 808/234–7245). Prices include all gear, food, and two alcoholic beverages. The dock in the Waianae Boat Harbor is a little more out of the way, but this is a much more luxurious option than what is offered in Waikiki. Three-hour morning and two-hour afternoon tours of the west side of Oahu include stops for observing dolphins from the boat and a snorkel spot well populated with fish. All gear, snacks, sandwiches, and two alcoholic beverages make for a more complete experience. Pickup in Ko Olina is free, but the company will also pick you up and take you back Waikiki for an addional fee. Hilton Pier at Hilton Hawaiian Village, 2005 Kalia Rd., Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, 96815. 808/234–7245. www.hawaiinautical.com. From $109.

Maitai Catamaran. Taking off from the stretch of sand between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Halekulani Hotel, this 44-foot cat is the fastest and sleekest on the beach. There are a variety of tours to choose from, including a sunset sail and a snorkel excursion. If you have a need for speed and enjoy a little more upscale experience, this is the boat for you. Waikiki Beach, between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, 96815. 808/922–5665 or 800/462–7975. www.maitaicatamaran.net. From $28.

Makani Catamaran. This 65-foot Makani is the top catamaran in Hawaii for luxury, from its Bose stereo system to its LCD TVs to its freshwater bathrooms. It sails out of Kewalo Basin three times daily, offering breakfast, "city lights" dinner cruises, and Friday night "fireworks" cruises. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1125 Ala Moana Blvd., Ala Moana, Honolulu, HI, 96814. 808/591–9000. www.sailmakani.com. From $49.

Na Hoku II Catamaran. Features a variety music and free booze in its $30 price tag. The 45-foot catamaran is tied up near the Westin Moana Surfrider hotel and sails four times daily. Make reservations in advance for the sunset sail as the boat fills up quickly. Waikiki Beach, between the Moana Surfrider Hotel and Duke's Barefoot Bar, Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, 96815. 808/554–5990. www.waikikicat.com. From $30.

Star of Honolulu Cruises. Founded in 1957, this company recently expanded its fleet to include the 65-foot Dolfin Star, docked on Oahu's west coast. It offers everything from snorkeling cruises in the pristine waters off the Waianae coast to gourmet-dinner cruises with live entertainment to seasonal whale-watching sails on one of two vessels. Popular cruises teach you how to string lei and dance hula. Two-hour whale-watching-excursion rates begin at $33 per person, while dinner cruises start at $84 and go up to $184. The company has a second location at 85-491 Farrington Highway in Waianae. Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Dr., Downtown, Honolulu, HI, 96813. 808/983–7827. 808/983–7780. www.starofhonolulu.com.

Tradewind Charters. This company's half-day private excursions can include sailing, snorkeling, reef fishing, and whale-watching. Traveling on these luxury yachts not only gets you away from the crowds, but also gives you the opportunity to "take the helm" if you wish. The cruises may include snorkeling at an exclusive anchorage, as well as hands-on snorkeling and sailing instruction. Base charter prices cover up to six passengers. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1125 Ala Moana Blvd., Ala Moana, Honolulu, HI, 96814. 808/227–4956. tradewindvacationshawaii.com. From $495.

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