Cruising the Hawaiian Islands


The island of Hawaii, known as the big island, is the logical starting place for a cruise through the island chain. This is because it is the point of entry for most visitors sailing from the mainland. Hilo is the port of entry, where one may go through the quarantine and agricultural inspection. You may spend three weeks there next to the Coast Guard dock. From there you may rent a car to visit the major points of interest. Remember that the big island is BIG. Plan on renting a car for a week. At 13,000 feet elevation, Mauna Kea and Kiluea volcanos will be the high point of your tour. Dress warmly, but don't get burned walking over the steam vents. Before leaving the high country visit the Parker Ranch visitors center on your way to the Kona or South Coast. Cruising the Kona Coast in a sailboat is a sailor's
dream.  Seas and breezes are very gentle.  Plan on a week to ten days of leisurely
sailing to enjoy untouched anchorages and vistas attainable only by boat.


Channel Crossing

After your relaxing visit along the Kona Coast , prepare yourself for a wild roller coaster ride: The Alenuihaha Channel. You may think of the channel crossings as a downhill run, not unlike a trip down river rapids.  While all Hawaiian Channel
crossings have the potential to terrify, and have claimed many lives, they can be exhilarating for those who understand and want this experience, and are prepared physically and mentally for this challenge.  Crossings are not for everyone, and for most travelers I recommend flying to the next island  and meeting us at your destination.  Flights between the islands are very reasonable, averaging $50 to $75 per crossing.


For the first time visitor to Maui,  there is more to see than you can possibly fit into your brief stay.  Relax, and think of this as your first of many return visits to this lovely destination.  I can't say enough about the usual tourist destinations such as the historic whaling city of Lahaina, Mt. Haleakala which dominates the landscape of Maui, the road to Hana, the Kaanapali coast.
You will return to these highlights with renewed delight on every visit to Maui.

    I would like to introduce you to some experiences unknown to most and accessible only to the cruising sailor.  After crossing the Alenuihaha Channel from the Big Island, our first destination is remote La Peruse Bay.  We anchor at Big Beach, a haven for sunbathers accessible only by boat or jeep trail.  During the winter months you will be living with the Humpback whales, as they share the anchorage.  You will also be sharing this hidden paradise with the body surfers at Little Beach.  This idyllic location, a vista from which to view little Molokini Island, forbidden Kahoolawi Island, private Lanai island,  and remote Molakai Island gives "body surfing," a new connotation because most of  your  fellow surfers will be in the nude.

    From La Peruse Bay we spend the next several days on a leisurely cruise across Maalaea Bay on our way to historic whaling center Lahaina, the luxurious Kaanapali Coast, and on to the the rugged Napili Coast.


An enjoyable cruise across the Auau Channel from Lahaina brings us to Lanai, the "Pineapple Isle."  This small privately owned  island was inaccessible to tourism until recent years.  Operated as a pineapple plantation, the owners decided to build two world class four star luxury hotels.  While the small population of Lanai once worked the pineapple fields, they now maintain these two luxury hotels.
    The key elements of Lanai are luxury, quietude,   pristine beaches, and surprisingly cool pine forests reminiscent of the Carmel Highlands of the rugged Big Sur Coast below Monterey, California. Access to this island is limited, and as a cruiser aboard the Kentucky Princess you are able to enjoy the benefits of this luxury without the $450.00 per day cost as a hotel guest .


A short cruise from either Lanai or Maui, the "Friendly Isle" is one of my favorite destinations.  Bypassed completely by the mainstream tourist industry, Molakai's only entry is the  small port of kaunakakai, the Island's only population center (the entire island population is about 6,000). Kaunakakai  is a small town in size and attitude.  With one small hotel, and a couple family restaurants, it is really fun to walk about the main street, browse in the general store (which has everything), and enjoy life at a slow pace.  There is also a small library where I obtained a library card on my first visit even though I arrived by boat as a nonresident.
    I hope I have conveyed the flavor of this forgotten island.  But there is another surprise awaiting on our cruise along this coast:  miles and miles of untouched magnificent coastline accessible only by boat.


Another roller coaster ride across the Kaiwi Channel (known also as the "Molokai Express" because of its strong winds and currents) brings us to Oahu, "The Gathering Place."  So much information is available about this exciting tourist mecca that I would like to introduce you to the unknown, hidden paradise away from the beaten track of Honolulu.  Yes, we will spend time in the Alawai Yacht Harbor, the entry to Waikiki Beach, and Honolulu. Like the TransPac yacht race sailors arriving from Newport Beach, California, we will be berthed as guests of the Hawaii Yacht Club.  We will have instant access to every possible form of entertainment offered by this metropolis.
    But when we are "partied out"  and ready for a quieter side of Oahu we will sail around Diamond Head and cruise to Kaneohe Bay (see "Umbrella Girls" on the front page).  This very private reserve is jealously guarded by the property owners along the shore.  It is only accessible to local residents and (you guessed it) sailors.  I won't tell you more because the photo "Umbrella Girls" conveys my feeling about this hidden Hawaiian treasure.


Of all the wonderful places to visit in Hawaii, my most favorite destination is Kauai, the "Garden Isle."  After an 80 mile cruise across the Kauai Channel we arrive at little Nawiliwili harbor.  Watch out for the Menehune, the mischievous little cousins of the leprechauns, because we will be anchored near their homeland, the Menehune Fishpond.  Also look out for those wild chickens which wander everywhere along the roads of Kauai (One could live for free on chicken.  I asked residents why they don't eat the chickens, but the thought never occurs to them.  You just get used to them always being there,  like pigeons in the park).
    After a few days to relax and tour the island, we are off for the adventure of a lifetime.  We will sail to the North Shore of Kauai, where the unparalleled Na Pali Coast awaits us.  We will anchor in Hanalei Bay, the inspiration of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, "Puff the Magic Dragon."  As you may recall, the words go something like this:  "Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the Sea.  And frolicked in the Autumn Mist in a Land called Hanalei."  A magical paradise, yes. And Peter, Paul, and Mary have done a better job than I could to give you the flavor of Hanalei Bay, the entrance to the Na Pali Coast.  I have also included a few glimpses of this coast in the "Photos" section.


    Hawaiians say they have no word for good-bye: Their only greeting, "Aloha," emplores us to embrace the spirit which life implies.   I hope that you have enjoyed your brief tour of the Hawaiian Island Chain, and  have a sense of  the Aloha spirit, the hidden side of Hawaii beyond the tourist facade.  I will be looking forward to our cruise together.
Captain Dan

 More About Captain Dan

Moku the Intrepid Boat Cat

 Photos of Hawaii

More About the U.S. Power Squadron

Captain Dan's Charter Return to Home Page

For the latest in Marine Weather, neat Satellite Photos, Virtual Hawaii, or fun things to do in Puget Sound visit the following Links.

Welcome to Virtual Hawaii Great Visual Tours of the Hawaiian Islands

CNN Weather Weather and Satellite Images

Emerald Web, Seattle Fun things to See and Do in Puget Sound

Captain Dan Collie
3463 State St. #435
Santa Barbara, Ca. 93105
Tel & Fax: 805/569-3761