What could be better than cruising along the Kona Coast? We took the plunge. We rented a boat from Kona Boat Rentals for the day to find out how it works, what it costs and, crucially, is it worth it?
Big day out
We all arrived at the parking lot in front of Kona Boat Rentals at 9am sharp to find that two of our friends couldn’t make it, so the group of 6 was now reduced to 4. We had originally booked a six person boat, but quickly found that while it could easily accommodate 6 people, it was very spacious with just 4.
After a comprehensive orientation and question and answer session with Eric we were ready to go – some of us more nervous than others, but who could resist the calm inviting waters of the harbor as we gently motored out toward the ocean.
What to bring
We all packed an assortment of snacks, lunch and plenty of water. Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses (reflection off the ocean can be intense), and a sweater – just in case you get chilled.
Each boat comes with the following:
- GPS & charts of the coast
- Directions to locations of interest
- Snorkeling and fishing equipment.
- Fishing Gear: Penn Rods & Reels, Fishfinder, Lures, Fighting Belt, Leader Gloves, Fish Bat & Gaff
- Snorkel Gear: Mask, Snorkel, Fins, Boarding Ladder/Swim Step (Scuba gear is available).
- Each boat also has electronics: Global Positioning Satellite Receiver (GPS), VHF radio, Tri-Beam Fish finder and Depth Gauge.
- Anchor, mooring & dock lines and fenders. All Coast Guard required and inspected equipment.
- Detailed Charts with GPS coordinates for over 30 moorings sites located along the Kona Coast.
- Captains, Guides, and Scuba Instructors are available for hire with 48-hour notice.
Most boat renters make the decision to head south, in the direction of Kealakekua Bay and the well-known snorkeling hotspot. We decided to venture north towards Makalawena Beach, a white sandy beach just south of Kua Bay (read about our recent hiking trip to Makalawena Beach here).
We had rented the boat for 6 hours, giving us plenty of time to explore the coast, drop anchor somewhere picturesque and have lunch before returning to Kona.
After a smooth journey north we dropped the anchor (making sure to drop it into the sand and not the coral reef) and jumped in the water. We were careful not to get too close to shore due to the currents. Snorkeling is also possible in this location and the water is incredibly clear.
Kona from the sea
After lunch we still had plenty of ocean-going time on the clock so we headed south past the harbor to Kona, cruising along the waterfront and enjoying a very different perspective of Old Kona and the downtown area.
So far none of us were sea sick – the Kona waters were living up to their reputation for being relatively calm and easy to navigate, and we all took turns at the wheel. There wasn’t time to include a further trip to Kealakekua Bay – we recommend deciding which direction to head and work out your timing based no that. Make sure you allow plenty of time for your return journey.
Back to the harbor
A day spent on the boat went incredibly quickly and it was soon time to head back to the harbor and get used to walking on dry land again! Once we reached the outer buoy near the harbor entrance we called Eric, and by the time we reached the dock he was waiting with the trailer to bring us in.
Is it worth it?
Hiring a boat won’t be for everyone. The cost of doing so for just a short period of time is relatively expensive. But it is a fantastic experience and a great way to have your very own private tour without the crowds. So if you’re looking for a different way to enjoy the Kona Coast, consider renting a boat for a few hours, or even the day!
Kona Boat Rentals
Kona Boat Rentals is located at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor in Kailua-Kona. They offer full and half-day rentals. The new 21-foot center console boats are large enough for 6 adults and have a bimini top for shade. Don’t worry you’ll be given an orientation prior to sailing, covering everything from boat operations to tips on where you should go. A license is not necessary! And don’t worry, the Kona Coast has some of the calmest and most easily navigable waters in the Pacific.
Cost: 4 hours $425 or 6 hours $555 for the boat we chose – 21 foot, 150 HP. Find out more here.
(This is not a paid promotion for Kona Boat Rentals but we definitely do recommend them!)