Having taken a handful of cruises off the islands of Hawaii, I’m becoming very fond of them. I told my husband just this last week, “If I lived in Hawaii, I would want to have a job offering and sailing on cruises just off shore!” The thing about them is that yes, you’re leaving on a boat from the island you just came too, but additionally you get to cruise crystal blue waters, feel the warm tropical wind in your hair, and you get to be among so many happy joyous people! What more could you want? Here’s a little history of the Fair Wind Cruise in Kona we recently took:
What started off as a brief rendezvous in Kona on a cruise from Monterey to the South Pacific turned into a lifetime adventure on the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island for the Dant family. In 1969 Michael Dant built the Fair Wind catamaran, a 50-foot trimaran with a tri-colored striped sail, now Fair Wind’s trademark. He began sailing with wife Janet and a crew of nine from California to Hawaii in 1970. Their South Pacific trip was cut short when in 1970 circumstances found the Dants with a damaged vessel. But the Kona community pulled together in true aloha style once even leaving dinner and drinks for the hardworking crew fixing the boat before the crew had a chance to say thank you. Acts of kindness such as these prompted the Dants to reconsider their journey and they never left Kona. After a year of repairs and business analysis Fair Wind began with snorkel cruises to Kealakekua Bay. Soon after, dinner sails were drawing busloads of visitors to Fair Wind, the biggest boat in Kona at the time with its capacity up to 50 people. Often the Fair Wind sailed three times a night to meet tour group demand.
Staying at the Sheraton Kona during this leg of our stay, we were a quick 5 minute walk to the Keauhou Bay Harbor where the Fair Wind II sails out of. After an easy check-in at the office on site, you are handed to boarding passes that resemble hotel key cards, then you await your boat. If you forgot sunscreen or are interested in an underwater camera, those are available in the office for a fee. No need to rush and stand in line, all the spots on the boat are good one once you board.
Whether you are downstairs in a covered area near the food, bar, and restrooms or upstairs in the sun next to the slides and captain, there are no bad seats! Plus as the tour goes on, feel free to move about, no one really claims territory. Once you get cruising, water and punch are available plus a nice party mix of snacks to get a little something in your tummy.
Just out of the harbor we were introduced to our first wildlife of the tour, manta rays! These cousins to the shark are unique looking and are made completely of cartilage, they have no bones and are harmless to humans. The sister cruises of Hula Kai offer manta ray snorkels and even a night dive!
If you get seasick, don’t forget your Dramamine. My husband has got his dose down to half of one pill plus sitting upstairs will give you full view of the horizon plus fresh air blowing on your face.
Our afternoon snorkel cruise took us along the Kona coast to historical Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay, a prime place to get out and enjoy the sea below. Aside from a few kayakers, we had the area to ourselves.
Fair Wind offers a variety of items for the water even if you don’t have the nerve to snorkel. I’ve snorkeled just a little and I was hoping that I’d feel more relaxed this time. Even with the option of a prescription snorkel and fins, I ended up nervous again. Once I walked down the ladder, I grabbed an inner tube and the fins and was just going to float about near my husband.
To my utter excitement I remember the announcement of the “view box” option. Not remembering that the last time, I passed back my snorkel mask and grabbed the box. Floating with the inner tube at my chest and under my arms, the white box has a clear plexiglass bottom with handles to hold by either side. As you float around the box just clears the surface of the water and you are allowed to look down and admire the colorful sea life all while keeping your face/head/mouth out of the water! Genius. A few of the men teased I was afraid to get my hair wet but it was far from the truth. The sensation of being in open water combined with my breathing only through my mouth forces me to panic. The view box allowed me to relax and enjoy the entire excursion and I saw just as much as the snorkelers did beneath the water. It was amazing and so comforting. You are allowed just about 90 minutes in the water and even if you aren’t snorkeling the traditional or non-traditional way, you are welcome to float around in the tubes or even on special boogie boards with the viewing section built in. There was even a few people that didn’t go in at all, so that’s entirely acceptable.
Just short of the time limit, my husband boarded the boat and took a try at the water slides from the second floor of the boat. Moistened with running water to avoid friction, he started at the top and slid 15 ft off the boat and then about another 10 ft before hitting the turquoise waters below! Like an 8 year old he had so much fun, he ended up back and forth for another dozen times at least! Watch him:
There’s also a spot up top where you can jump from the boat to the water. I sat back in the sun and enjoyed watching everyone else do it!
As we heading back to the harbor, fresh fruit was passed around, more party mix and chips were offered as well as a cash bar. No alcohol is offered prior to the snorkel for safety reasons.
We were graced by so many playful, social dolphins on the cruise back to the harbor, it was truly spectacular!The 3.5 hour tour was really a fun trip. Some history is told of the area, all the staff on board are friendly and helpful, there’s a full snorkel training session with plenty of tips for a successful experience. Once you disembark, there’s a gift shop in the office where you can pick up souvenirs or perhaps book a Manta Ray dive/snorkel with the sister boat!
Also available from the Fair Wind II is a morning snorkel that is capped off by a BBQ lunch for just a bit more money. Check them out!
Details: 3.5-hr Cruise (2:00 PM – 5:30 PM) Includes:
- Fruit and Assorted Snacks
- Snorkel Equipment
- Snorkel Instruction
- Underwater View Boxes
- Inner Tubes and Other Flotation Devices
- Two 15-Ft. Water Slides and Dive Platform
- No-host bar
- Personalized Video
Prices: $75 – Adults, plus tax
$45 – Children (4-12 yrs.), plus tax
Toddlers (3 and Under) – Free
Our Fair Wind II Afternoon Snorkel Cruise was hosted, drinks and gratuity were paid by us. All opinions are our our honest experience!