Welakahao Outrigger Catamaran: An Excellent Sunset Cruise in Waikiki

Watching the sunset on a beach in Hawaii is great. Watching the sunset in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with Israel Kamakawiwaole playing in the background and a drink in hand is even better. The Welakahao Outrigger Catamaran [Update 12/1/2011: the catamaran was recently renamed the Waikiki Rigger]. offers just that and I got to experience this sunset cruise this past Sunday with Michelle.

The catamaran sets sail off of the beach fronting the Halekulani in Waikiki, the heart of the tourism industry in Hawaii. Although the catamaran is named the Welakahao Outrigger Catamaran, it is no way affiliated with the Outrigger Reef Hotel. However, when we asked about parking the representative from the catamaran mentioned that the cheapest option would be to valet park at the Outrigger Reef Hotel (conveniently located next to the Halekulani) and then by a drink before or after at the Shore Bird Bar & Restaurant at the Outrigger. Valet parking at the Outrigger is $5 with validation. With that in mind, we arrived at the outrigger at around 4:30pm, valet parked, and then made our way to the beach. On our way there, Michelle stopped at one of the lobby shops to pick up a bottle of sunscreen. You want to know how outrageous the prices can be in Waikiki? How’s this for outrageous: suncsreen priced at $17. We both had a laugh at the price (she ending up buying it) but we figured that $17 was worth the price for peace of mind. The moral of the story is to always remember to bring sunscreen!

People departing the Welakahao Catamaran. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The crew prepares the ship for its next sail. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The Welakahao used to be a championship catamaran before it was retired. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The beach fronting the Outrigger Reef and Halekulani. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

As soon as we reached the beach we noticed the Welakahao sailing back to shore. While waiting, I snapped a few shots of the catamaran and Diamond Head. Speaking of Diamond Head, the view of the crater from this point of the beach is unmatched. It took a few minutes for the passengers to depart the catamaran. The crew then took a few minutes to prepare the catamaran and restock the bar. We started to board the Welakahao at around 5:15pm. A photographer was there to take photos of each group in front of the Catamaran with Diamond Head in the background. Passengers are then loaded to the front of the catamaran. There are seats toward the back of the catamaran but you can’t sit there until the catamran reaches the open ocean. The reason is that toward the shore there are a lot of coral reef (which are living organisms) and the back of the boat extends deeper into the ocean then the front half. And so with everyone initially sitting on the front, the catamaran is a bit tilted and therefore avoids damaging any coral reefs.

Once the Welakahao sets sail, the crew makes a few announcements and then the fun begins. The drinks begin to flow immediately and the best part is that all drinks are free. The bar offers both alcoholic and no-alcoholic drinks and yes, even the alcoholic drinks are free. The ship also serves the “Rigger” which is a mixed drink made with POG (passion orange guava) and oh my goodness is it delicious. You can also purchase an Outrigger Catamaran tumblr which you can bring on future catamaran trips.

From the Halekulani, the Welakahao sails toward the iconic Diamond Head Crater. You get beautiful views of the crater from an angle that most people do not get to see. Also in view is the Diamond Head Lighthouse, which is located on a steep cliff on the south side of the crater. Looking to Diamond Head, you can also see the bunker at the top of the lookout point as well as another bunker to the right of the Lighthouse. With the sun about to set, the catamaran made a U-Turn back toward the Halekulani. Within a few moments, the sun was setting. It was a gorgeous site.

If you squint, you can make out the Diamond Head Lighthouse. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The Hawaiian flag and Waikiki in the background. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A boat passes by as the sun begins to set. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I was actually really impressed with this Catamaran ride. The trip lasted an hour and half, though I wish we could have been out there longer. The drinks were tasty and they kept on flowing (maybe that’s why this cruise is nicknamed the “booze cruise.” The music matched with the scenery was perfect. If you’re a tourist visiting Hawaii, the Welakaheo Outrigger Catamaran is a must do experience. If you’re a local, and you don’t mind mingling with other tourists then you’ll enjoy this fun sail.

Welakaeho Outrigger Catamaran Tips:

  • The Outrigger Catamaran does not officially offer parking. The cheapest option for parking will be to valet park at the Outrigger Reed Hotel (next to the Halekulani) then grab a quick drink at the Shore Bird in the hotel. The cheapest drink is a $3.50 beer. Once you’ve got your beer, don’t forget to have your parking ticket validated. The validation is good for 4 hours.
  • Don’t forget to bring sunscreen.
  • The Outrigger Tumblr costs $5 but if you plan to do the sail again in the future then remember to bring your Tumblr and you’ll have drinks as soon as you board the Welakahao.
  • You’ll be on the beach so the use of slippers (or flip-flops as you strange mainlanders like to say) is a must.
  • Drinks are free so the Catamaran might make for a very good “planned” Happy Hour session with a bunch of good friends.
  • You can purchase tickets online for $40.84 per person. However, if you’re doing this last minute then take your chances and show up on the beach at around 4:30pm. The staff will let you know whether or not spots opened up. A friend of mine did this and she told me that 90% of the time they have space for you (that’s what the staff told her).

Explorers: Coty Gonzales and Michelle Sagucio.

Diamond Head Crater. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Me and Michelle relaxing as the sun sets in the background. Photo by Coty Gonzales.Â

Aren’t sunsets just beautiful? They’re a hundred times more beautiful in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Location: On Waikiki Beach in front of the Halekulani Hotel on the Beach Hotel, Oahu
Duration: 1 1/2 hours
Available: Daily

Departure time and location: Sunset cruise: 5 PM in winter and 5:30 PM in summer from the beach in front of the HaleKulani Hotel in Waikiki. [Note: Our catamaran started boarding at around 5:15pm.]
Return time and location: Hawaii Sunset Sailing Cruise: 6:30 PM in winter and 7 PM in summer at the beach in front of the HaleKulani Hotel in Waikiki

Directions:

Honolulu International Airport to Outrigger Reef on the Beach via H1 Freeway

From airport arrival terminal exit toward Waikiki/Honolulu.
Go up the ramp and stay to right going east toward Waikiki/Honolulu for 1 mile/1.61 km to H1 Freeway. Merge onto H1 East.
Get into left lane and continue on H1 East for .8 miles/1.29 km going toward Honolulu. Freeway will begin to veer to the left.
Take exit 23 to Punahou St. and get into right lane, turning right onto Punahou St.
Go south on Punahou St for one block (.07 miles/.11 km). Turn right onto South Beretania St. and travel for one block (.06 miles/.09 km).
Get into left lane and make left at first traffic signal onto Kalakaua Ave.
Continue on Kalakaua Ave then turn right onto Beachwalk.
Outrigger Reef on the Beach is straight ahead where Beachwalk ends at Kalia Rd.

Honolulu International Airport to Outrigger Reef on the Beach via Nimitz Highway

From airport arrival terminal exit toward Waikiki/Honolulu.
Go up the ramp and stay to the right going east toward Waikiki/Honolulu for 1 mile/1.61 km to H1 Freeway. Merge onto H1 east.
Stay in right lane and follow sign toward Waikiki/Nimitz Highway. Follow Nimitz Highway for 6.4 miles/10.29 km and stay in right lane as Nimitz Highway/Ala Moana Blvd veers to the right and becomes Kalakaua Ave.
Continue on Kalakaua Ave then turn right onto Beachwalk. Outrigger Reef on the Beach is straight ahead where Beachwalk ends at Kalia Rd.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.