Boating & Sailing on Maui

What’s more exhilarating than being on a boat, wind in your hair, sunshine radiating from the skies, and the promise of wonder waiting to be discovered under clear blue waters? May it be to witness a majestic whale breaching, swim along a green sea turtle, or be off the grid for a few hours to reconvene with nature, any reason to climb on board and sail the great Pacific makes for an extraordinary day.

To explore Maui by water, boat tours depart from Lahaina harbor and Kaanapali Beach on the west side, the more centrally located Maalaea harbor by the Pali coastline, or Wailea Beach on the south shore. For adventures on smaller motorized rafts, the meeting spots would be Kihei boat ramp on the south side and Mala Wharf in Lahaina. Quick morning trips—usually two to four hours, all-day boat tours, or a romantic sunset sail will take you to the most ideal sites for the day. Most boat tours include food and beverages plus a snorkel site or two.

Whale season brings two-hour whale watch trips in addition to the usual charters. Most of these trips include commentary from a naturalist on board and some hydrophone action to hear the mighty humpbacks sing.

On West Maui, the breath-taking Honolua Bay, Olowalu reef and Coral Garden are among the most popular destinations. If weather doesn’t permit ideal visibility at these areas, there is always Mala Wharf, where a thriving reef grew from a collapsed fishing pier. It’s an interesting reef with much to see, although it would’ve been free and fairly easy to swim to from the shore.
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The southern coast’s tours usually head to the Molokini crater, Makena Landing, or La Perouse Bay. Some boats will travel all the way to the jagged Kanaio Coast in the right conditions. One can also island hop to neighboring Lanai and frolic between the Hulopoe Marina Preserve and Manele Bay. A quick stroll to see Puu Pehe or the Sweetheart Rock offers playtime at a tidepool and sea caves at an often-secluded part of the beach.Costs for the boat tours on Maui vary, but note that the more affordable boats are bigger and can load more people. During peak season, be prepared to share the day with more than 100 other passengers. If budget isn’t an issue, a $30 to $50 difference per person could mean significant levels up in the quality of the boat, food and drinks, and personal service (not to mention ample space to leisurely move around or manspread to your heart’s content). Most tour companies offer discounted rates for children and teens.
honolua bay, boat tours on maui

Honolua Bay, Maui. Photo: Alena Nicholas Photography.

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