Fishing isn’t just a sport in Hawaii, it’s a way of life. A number of charter boats with experienced crews can take you on a sportfishing adventure throughout the year. Sure, the bigger yellowfin tuna (ahi) are generally caught in summer, and the coveted spearfish are more frequent in winter, but you can still hook them any day of the year. You can also find dolphinfish (mahimahi), wahoo (ono), skipjacks, and the king—Pacific blue marlin—ripe for the picking on any given day. The largest marlin ever caught, weighing in at 1,805 pounds, was reeled in along Oahu’s coast.
When choosing a fishing boat in the Islands, keep in mind the immensity of the surrounding ocean. Look for veteran captains who have decades of experience. Better yet, find those who care about Hawaii’s fragile marine environment. Many captains now tag and release their catches to preserve the state’s fishing grounds.
The general rule for the catch is an even split with the crew. Unfortunately, there are no "freeze-and-ship" providers in the state, so unless you plan to eat the fish while you're here, you'll probably want to leave it with the boat. Most boats do offer mounting services for trophy fish; ask your captain.
Prices vary greatly, but expect to pay from around $65 per person for a spot on a boat with more than 20 people to $2,000 for an overnight trip for up to 6 people. Besides the gift of fish, a gratuity of 10%–20% is standard, but use your own discretion depending on how you feel about the overall experience.
Boats and Charters
Maggie Joe Sport Fishing. The oldest sportfishing company on Oahu boasts landing one of the largest marlins ever caught out of Kewalo Basin. With a fleet of three boats including the 53-foot custom Maggie Joe (which can hold up to 15 anglers and has air-conditioned cabins, hot showers, and cutting-edge fishing equipment), they can offer a variety of offshore fishing packages. A marine taxidermist can mount the monster you reel in. Half-day exclusives on the 41-foot Sea Hawk or the 38-foot Ruckus can accommodate up to six people and are the cheapest options for daytime fishing. Charters on the larger Maggie Joe can start at a three-quarter day or a full day (but not a half day). Kewalo Basin, 1025 Ala Moana Blvd., Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813. 808/591–8888; 877/806–3474; www.maggiejoe.com. From $190.
Magic Sportfishing. This 50-foot Pacifica fishing yacht, aptly named Magic, boasts a slew of sportfishing records, including some of the largest marlins caught in local tournaments and the most mahimahi hooked during a one-day charter. This yacht is very comfortable, with twin diesel engines that provide a smooth ride, air-conditioning, and a cozy seating area. The boat can accommodate up to six passengers and offers both shared and full charters. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1125 Ala Moana Blvd., Slip G, Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815. 808/596–2998; www.magicsportfishing.com. From $220 per person for a shared charter; from $1,095 for a private charter.
Sashimi Fun Fishing. With a luxury 74-foot boat for sport fishing, a 65-footer for bottom fishing, and a 100-foot double-decker boat for dinner cruises, Sashimi Fun Fishing offers a variety of water activities. Choose a midnight shark hunt, head out in search of marlin, bottom fish near shore, or relax and enjoy live entertainment on the Prince Kuhio's sunset steak and seafood dinner cruise. Rates can include hotel transportation. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1025 Ala Moana Blvd., Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96814. 808/955–3474; www.808955fish.com; www.princekuhiocruises.com. From $63 per person for shared trips; $69 for dinner cruises.