Island Snorkeling: Hula Kai
reservations prior to arriving on the Big Island are required if
you hope to join them for a morning tour! A
credit card is required to guarantee your reservation, but no
charges are made at the time of your order. You pay for the
tour when you check in on the day of your cruise. There's no
reason to wait ... make your reservation today so your space is
Morning Snorkel Tour: $149 per person. Minimum age is 5, but there are no child rates. Everyone pays the same rate on this boat.
Kai is the Kona Coast's newest, most technologically advanced
snorkel vessel. This boat uses hydrofoil technology for
improved stability and speed, and allows them to access more remote
destinations including sea caves and lava flows that are less than
50 years old. Hula Kai is designed and built specifically for the
ultimate snorkel and dive adventure.
Seating on board the boat is in
comfortable lounge-styled seating with arm and head rests. The wide steps on each side of the
boat provide easy access into the ocean. A fresh-water shower is
available to rinse off when you finish your snorkeling.
Morning departures are at
from Keauhou Harbor, about 10 minutes south of downtown Kailua-Kona.
The trip includes breakfast, a BBQ lunch, and snorkel gear. The tour
is 5 hours long. A cash bar is also available on-board. Tours are typically offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with Monday through Saturday operations during the summer months from 6/30 to 8/20.
A one-tank Certified SCUBA dive is available as an option for an additional $75 with gear or $65
FW / R
The Hula Kai is available for
cruise ship passengers whose itinerary shows a 7am arrival
in Kona. A cab ride of 10-12 minutes from the cruise ship dock in Kona is
required. Check-in time is 9am. Kona is a tendering situation, so ample time is
required to make it to shore. If your cruise ship is scheduled to arrive at 7am
or is spending the previous night in Kona, this tour will fit your schedule.
My first impression
of the Hula Kai is that this boat is FAST! I've never been on
a snorkel tour on a large powered catamaran that offered the speed
and range that this boat provides. Shortly after departing the bay
we were passing a smaller fishing boat; they were cruising to their
destination (probably at top speed) and we passed them like they
were standing still.
The speed of this
boat is really striking. This is the sister boat to the Fair Wind,
which leaves from the same pier 30 minutes earlier. The Hula Kai
arrived at Kealakekua Bay just a minute or so after the Fair Wind in
spite of their 30 minute head-start. Kealakekua Bay (where the
Captain Cook monument is located) is a wonderful snorkel spot, but
the Hula Kai's range allows her to explore areas where tour
boats haven't ventured before. If you've never snorkeled at
Kealakekua Bay, I would recommend a trip on board the Fair Wind.
The Hula Kai just stops there for a few minutes for a quick
historical narrative and look around. Then she heads south, and the
We were blown away by
HOW FAR south of Kona this tour goes. Our first snorkel spot was
good ... I would say not as good as Kealakekua, but some good reef
for those who are strong swimmers who can venture near the edge of
the boundaries of the snorkeling area. The second spot was just
excellent though ... a great section of reef perched right in front
of the opening of a sea cave. LOTS of fish, a few Hawaiian green sea
turtles, and incredibly clear water.
Food on board the Hula
Kai is first-rate! They offer prime angus beef burgers, grilled
chicken, veggie burgers, and a variety of salads. A cash bar on board has beer, wine, soda, and juice available for purchase.
This boat is a wonderful blend of
sporty (it's high speed and sleek design) and luxury (it's
comfortable seating, high quality food, and pleasant atmosphere).
The folks at Fair Wind Cruises do everything right and
offer a great new snorkel experience that will grab the attention of
the most experienced Kona visitors. The minimum age for this tour is 5 but there is no child rate... this is to preserve the upscale atmosphere on board the boat. They figure that anyone willing to pay an adult rate for a 5 year old probably has a sophisticated five year old.
Two new features of the Hula Kai; they have recently replaced their deck umbrellas for permanent biminis which provide more shade for guests. And a new optional activity for which you can sign up and pay for on the morning of your cruise ... Take your snorkeling to the next level and ride a Sea Rocket! Only available on the Hula Kai, a Sea Rocket is an underwater propulsion vehicle designed for the advanced snorkeler who wants to go further and cover more extensive underwater topography. The Sea Rocket pulls you along through the water on a 30 minute guided reef tour for an additional $25 paid on board the boat.
Advanced reservations are REQUIRED to go out on the Hula Kai as a snorkeler or as a certified diver, so make your reservations today! The Sea Rockets are available to those going out on the Hula Kai and no reservations for this optional activity are taken in advance ... you just arrange that once you are already on the boat (for which you DO need an advanced reservation).