For old salts and novice sailors alike, there's nothing like a cruise on the Kona or Kohala Coast. Calm waters, serene shores, and the superb scenery of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai, the Big Island's primary volcanic peaks, make for a great sailing adventure. You can drop a line over the side and try your luck at catching dinner, or grab some snorkel gear and explore when the boat drops anchor in one of the quiet coves and bays. A cruise may well be the most relaxing and adventurous part of a Big Island visit.
Honu Sail Charters. The fully equipped 32-foot cutter-rigged sloop Honu (Hawaiian for sea turtle) carries six passengers on full-day, half-day, and sunset sailing excursions along the scenic Kona Coast, which include time to snorkel in clear waters over coral reefs. This friendly outfitter allows passengers to get some hands-on sailing experience or just to kick back and relax. Prices include food, snorkel equipment, towels, etc. Honokōhau Harbor, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740. 808/896–4668; www.sailkona.com. Tours from $100.
Kohala Sail & Sea. Based at the new Kawaihae South Small Boat Harbor, this company offers morning snorkeling, day sailing, and sunset cruises, and humpback whale-watching in season. Owned and operated by Captain Steve Turner, the crew aboard the 34-foot Riva focuses on sharing the wonders of the Kawaihae area, including the impressive Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, the Puako reef, and views of Big Island volcanoes and even Maui's Haleakala. Kawaihae Harbor South, Slip #8, 61-3527 Kawaihae Rd., Kawaihae, Hawaii, 96743. 808/895–1781; kohalasailandsea.com. From $106.