Boating & Sailing on the Big Island

See the Big Island as you never have before, floating on azure blue waters that surround its expansive coastline. Big Island boat tours allow you to explore unique wonders of the island— from jetting in and out of striking sea caves on an inflatable raft to swimming with majestic manta rays and marveling at cascading waterfalls.

Boat tours on the Big Island will take you on all kinds of amazing adventures, including nighttime scuba diving trips, snorkeling escapades, deep-sea fishing jaunts, and whale-sighting tours.

The Kohala and Kona Coasts have the largest number of boat tour operators, many of whom explore similar coastline destinations and who work from the small boat harbors and piers in Kailua-Kona, Keauhou and the Kohala Coast. East Hawaii options are limited but unique and worthwhile.
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Lava Ocean Tours in Hilo is known for their lava-viewing boat tours that take guests to see where the molten red lava meets the ocean. If no lava is flowing, take another amazing Big Island boat tour departing at 9 a.m. from Wailoa Harbor that explores more than 30 waterfalls over a three-hour excursion around the Hamakua Coast — including Hilo’s famous Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls and Umauma Falls.

This same company also operates tours on the west side, including dolphin snorkel and sunset cruises, whale watching, night manta ray tours and private charters from Kawaiahae Harbor South.

Many west side operations offer similar excursions, often with both morning and afternoon tour times.Fair Wind Cruises has a 5-hour deluxe cruise departing in the morning, as well as a 4 ½-hour morning and 3 ½-hour afternoon snorkeling excursion to Kealakekua Bay.

Then you have Blue Sea Cruises, which offers a sunset dinner cruise aboard their glass bottom boat, complete with live entertainment and hula dancing. Or swim within inches of graceful manta rays with their evening manta ray snorkel tour.

Another popular Kona boat tour is Captain Dan McSweeney’s year-round three-hour whale watching adventure. This knowledgeable captain sets sail and spots winter humpback whales, as well as other little-known whale species that live off the Kona Coast.

If you have a need for speed, try Captain Zodiac, which offers an exciting four-hour trip on an inflatable boat that takes you along the coast to explore sea caves, spot cinder cones, search for dolphins and turtles and snorkel around Kealakekua Bay.

If you prefer to stay dry, the Kailua Bay Charter Company’s hour-long glass bottom boat cruise, departs daily at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from the Kailua-Kona pier. This excursion takes guests on a relaxing shallow water ride along the Kona coastline where they can experience the beauty of the underwater world from the comfort of their seats.

No matter which one you choose, boat tours on the Big Island are an unforgettable experience for nature lovers of all ages.

Family Fun

Family boat trip off of the Kona Coast. Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

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