We didn’t go snorkeling on this trip to Hawaii but I still wanted to be able to go out onto the water (i.e. past the wading mark) and I looked around for some sort of sunset cruise. While initially I had considered a dinner cruise, I’ve found that when dinner is included, the high price tag never compensates for the usually average food (my dinner cruise on the Seine in Paris is perhaps the exception). So I thought it fortuitous when I discovered Hawaii Nautical as they offered a sunset cruise and were located near to where we were staying (i.e. it wasn’t a Waikiki-based tour company).
Sunset cruises are $79 for adults, $59 for children and include a round trip pick up from the Ko Olina resorts (the Marriott Beach Club, the JW Marriott, and Disney’s Aulani Resort), the cruise, unlimited pupus (appetizers), two alcoholic drinks as well as unlimited non-alcoholic drinks.
The website advertises a pickup time of 4:15 PM for a 5:30 PM sailing from the Waianae Harbor but since a smaller number of people signed up on the day that we did it, we weren’t picked up until 4:45 PM. Traffic, however, from the Ko Olina to the harbor was abysmal. Although we would certainly encounter this in the direction of Honolulu and Waikiki, we hadn’t at that time experienced anything like it; it was either dead stopped or just crawled. The driver did say that on that day it was even worse than usual.
The boat was a small catamaran, perfect for our group size-we two and eight others were picked up at the hotel and then a family of four was already at the harbor, along with three crew members. They do have a policy of a “shoeless” cruise so you would remove your shoes prior to stepping on board. I wasn’t worried about my sandals being taken (a clearance pair from Kohl’s), I just wasn’t the biggest fan of the no shoes from a hygienic stance, but what can you do.
Since our group was small, the crew was especially relaxed and easy going, although this is generally de rigueur at any smaller tourist operation in Hawaii I’ve found. They explained the dos and don’ts, mentioned the drinks, described what the pupus were, and that was that. The food selections included meatballs, kalua pork, a chicken dish, and then cut veggies and dip, chips, hummus, and Hawaiian style rolls. We didn’t eat dinner that night (we had had a late lunch) but we were more than sated with the offerings.
I only had one drink, opting to go with the Hawaiian mimosa, pineapple juice and champagne. It was slightly comical seeing the crew member rather liberally pour the champagne into the large plastic cup. (I went with one drink to ensure I wouldn’t need to step inside the tiny boat’s bathroom in my bare feet.) D had the same and then later on got a beer.
The purpose of such a cruise was to see the sunset naturally. I will say this, sunsets on Oahu, when compared to those that I saw on Maui, were rather disappointing. It seemed that every night when I was able to actually watch one, clouds would always be in the way. On the cruise, it seemed like my bad luck was going to continue until when the sun was almost completely down, out burst striking rays of orange and yellows.
The cruise was about two hours, from 5:30 to 7:30 roughly (we got back to the hotel after 8 PM, thankfully traffic was much less). If you’re looking for a fast paced, exciting activity, this cruise is probably not for you. But if you’re looking to simply unwind while being out on the water, I would recommend it. Anywhere on Hawaii is beautiful but the water affords you a different perspective.