There are plenty of opportunities for boating, boarding, and even parasailing in Waikiki. Here’s a roundup of the the best locations, rentals, and charters for each. Make sure you plan ahead for any sailing you want to do in the evening, as sunset sails fill up quickly.
While you can bodyboard any of the waves around Waikiki, bodyboarders congregate in two areas. Just off the cement pier at the east end of Kuhio Beach Park is a break called Walls, where warbley waves break over very shallow reef and wash over the lagoon wall. To the east of the pier, along Queen’s Surf Beach, is a specially marked No Surfboard zone. The waves here break over some shallow coral heads along the fringe reef and roll all the way to the shore.
Aloha Beach Services (808/922-3111, 8am-4pm daily), Star Beachboys (Kuhio Beach Park, no phone, 8am-4pm daily), and Hawaiian Ocean Waikiki (Kuhio Beach Park, 808/721-5443, 8am-4pm daily) rent bodyboards for $5 per hour or $20 per day.
The outrigger canoe is one of the defining facets of Hawaiian culture.The outrigger canoe is one of the defining facets of Hawaiian culture. After all, it is how early Polynesian voyagers first arrived in these islands. Before surfboards came along, native Hawaiian fishers would stand up and “surf” their canoes back to shore. Outrigger canoe paddling and surfing have remained popular in Hawaii to this day, and Waikiki offers the only place on O‘ahu you’ll be able to hop into a real six-person outrigger canoe with a professional rudder operator to guide you through the surf.
Faith Surf School runs six-person canoes at $25 each for three waves, with locations at the Outrigger Reef (2169 Kalia Rd., 808/924-6084), the Outrigger Waikiki (2335 Kalakaua Ave., 808/926-9889), and the Sheraton (2255 Kalakaua Ave., 808/922-4422). Aloha Beach Services (808/922-3111, 8am-4pm daily) runs eight-person canoes for $15 each for two waves. In Kuhio Beach Park Star Beachboys (no phone, 8am-4pm daily) canoe rides are $15 per person for three waves, and Hawaiian Ocean Waikiki (808/721-5443, 8am-4pm daily) runs a four-person canoe at $15 each for two waves.
There are seven catamaran cruises that launch from the beach and sail the waters off Waikiki almost every day, weather dependent, from Ala Moana to Diamond Head. The boats are different sizes and cater to different interests (some of the catamaran tours are known locally as the “booze cruise”), but the tours all offer a beautiful perspective of Waikiki, the city skyline, and the verdant Ko‘olau Mountains from out at sea. Waikiki Cruises (no phone, 2-passenger min., 6-passenger max., $20 per person) operates a 24-foot catamaran from the beach fronting the Outrigger Reef. Known for its fluorescent pink sail, the cat sails for one hour Monday-Saturday. First sail launches at 10:30am and the last sail departs around 3pm. You’ll need to bring your own refreshments on board and make reservations from the beach.
Waikiki Rigger (808/922-2210, $30 pp), a championship racing catamaran, also launches from the beach fronting the Outrigger Reef. Their High Speed Tradewind Sail departs at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 1pm and 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Nonalcoholic beverages are $1, cocktails are $3. The daily Sunset Sail ($42 pp) departs at 5pm and offers complimentary beverages. Waikiki Rigger also has a 2.5-hour Aquatic Eco Tour ($51 pp) combining sailing and snorkeling. The 44-foot Maita‘i Catamaran (808/922-5665) seats 47 people comfortably and departs from the beach between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Halekulani hotels. The 90-minute Tradewind Sail ($28 adults, $14 children) leaves the beach at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Beverages start at $3. There is a two-hour Underwater Adventure Sail ($45 adults, $27 children) at 10:30am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Sunset Mai Tai Sail ($39 adults, $19 children) is aptly named for its stocked bar and free beverages. It departs at 5pm. On selected nights the Maita‘i offers a Mahina Moonlight Sail ($39 adults, $19 children); times may vary. Children three and under are free on all trips.
On Waikiki Beach you’ll find three catamaran operators. In front of the Royal Hawaiian is the Kepoikai II (no phone), a 42-foot cat operating in Waikiki for more than 35 years. Their one-hour sail begins at 10:30am daily for $20 per person. Last sail is at 6pm during the summer. On board they sell $1 mai tais, $2 beer, juice, soda, and water. You’ll need to make reservations or bookings from the beach.
The Manu Kai (808/554-5990) beaches in front of the Outrigger Waikiki and offers one-hour trips ($25 pp with alcoholic beverages, $20 pp without). The 43-foot catamaran’s last sail ($30 pp) is at 5:30pm and is a 1.5-hour trip. Right next to the Manu Kai you’ll find the famous yellow and red Na Hoku II (no phone, $30 pp with alcoholic beverages, $25 pp without). They offer 1.5-hour trips, and the first leaves the beach at 11:30am. They also have a sunset sail that departs at 5:30pm. Both of these boats have a 49-person maximum capacity and fill up quickly. If you’re planning a weekend sunset sail, it’s best to make a reservation at least a few days in advance.
At Kuhio Beach Park you’ll find the Mana Kai (no phone, $20 pp), which holds up to 27 passengers, but will sail with just six. The crew does not serve any beverages, but you are welcome to bring your own. The first one-hour sail departs at 9:30am, and the last sail is around 6pm, depending on the season.
Parasailing offers the thrill of hang gliding while affixed by a prescribed length of line to a boat motoring across the warm Pacific Ocean. The parachute can soar up to 1,000 feet above the ocean, and as you can imagine, it really is a bird’s-eye view. Hawaii Active (808/871-8884 or 866/766-6284) is an easy way to book a parasailing trip. There are four options for line length and time in the air, starting with the 300-foot line for 5-7 minutes for $44 per person, up to a 1,000-foot line for 10-12 minutes for $77.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.