Boatful of Fun

December 4, 2012 | By Christina O Connor

If you’re looking to get more than just your feet wet, head out to sea and make a splash!

Taking advantage of one of the many boat-based activities that O‘ahu has to offer is a great way to enjoy the ocean, as well as to explore lesser-known areas of the island.

From playing underwater to floating far above the sea, here’s a rundown of some of the island’s exciting boat activities that are either based in Waikiki or offer round-trip transportation.

Photo courtesy of Atlantis Adventures

Whale Watch

Every winter, humpback whales migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters. From December through April, thousands of whales make Hawai‘i their home, meaning that we’re currently in the midst of whale watching season.

To spot whales as they jump out of the water, spout, or flap their tails, hop aboard the Navatek I, which departs from Pier 6 at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

“We go where the whales are,” says Atlantis Adventures director of public relations and advertising Loreen Matushima, explaining that the powerful vessel can weather rougher waters and travel all the way to Maunalua Bay or toward the airport—wherever the whales may be.

As the Navatek I cruises along searching for whales, there is an expert naturalist on board to provide information about the animals.

“What I think is really wonderful is the keen interest in this magnificent animal,” Matsushima says.

“We provide that opportunity for visitors and kama‘aina alike to see [whales] in their habitat … there is a real connection when you see them in their home in the water.”

In addition to whales, Matsushima says that dolphins are often spotted, and sea turtles and flying fish occasionally make appearances. Departs from Pier 6 at Aloha Tower Marketplace (round-trip transportation from select Waikiki hotels available), (808) 973-1311.

Catch a Big One

No need for fish tales here, even if you come up empty-handed, you’ll have garnered a great experience with unbeatable views of Waikiki, while boating along O‘ahu’s south shore.

Great for families, beginners are welcome aboard the Sashimi and Sashimi II. These tours include hotel transportation, sightseeing, rod, bait and tackle. During the daytime and sunset bottom fishing tours, guests are treated to a local-style BBQ, where the day’s catch can be served up from the grill (catch-and-release is also available). Fisherman’s Warf, (808) 955-3474 (FISH),

Race the Waves

Get the rush of your life aboard the Honolulu Screamer. This twin-jet, water-propelled boat races across the ocean’s surface at speeds up to 40 mph. The action-filled thrill ride is punctuated with high-speed turns and twists all set against a soundtrack booming from the 20-speaker audio system. During the half-hour ride along Waikiki shores guests are treated to views of the coastline as well as sights of local sea life, including honu (sea turtles), and possibly, humpback whales. (808) 597-8669,

Photo courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village

Sail the Ocean Blue

If you’re exhausted after all of your adventures in boating, catamaran sailing is a nice, relaxing trip on the ocean.

Spirit of Aloha is a 54-foot catamaran that provides an exhilarating ride while cruising past the picturesque Waikiki shoreline. Setting sail from Port Waikiki, located at Hilton Hawaiian Village, the catamaran heads out to sea toward Diamond Head.

The captain and lifeguard-certified crew are on-hand to answer questions about the sea life that abounds in the area. It’s a magical, sailing along the Waikiki coast with the majestic Ko‘olau mountains looming in the distance.

For evening sails, Honolulu’s city lights are a twinkling delight.

For a truly idyllic experience, try Spirit of Aloha’s Sunset Cocktail Sail, which provides a front-row seat to a Waikiki sunset. The sunset sail also snacks and two cocktails. Port Waikiki,

Hilton Hawaiian Village, (808) 234-7245 (SAIL),

Peek Below the Surface

Catch a glimpse of what lies beneath aboard the Glass Bottom boat. Equipped with three viewing bays, passengers are treated to sightings of coral reefs and the fish that inhabit them, sea turtles, rays, dolphins, sharks and more. It’s the perfect alternative for those who want to see the undersea beauty of O‘ahu’s south shore, but don’t want to get their hair wet. Fisherman’s Warf, (808) 955-3474 (FISH),