I recently was invited to go on a sunset cruise with Chad Kahunahana, founder of Experience Hawaii, an online booking app specializing in Hawaii’s best tours & activities. The mission of Experience Hawaii is to make it easier for visitors and locals to discover and book Hawaii’s best tours & activities. Experience Hawaii hand-selects and highlight only the very best tours. Also joining us for the cruise were a few of Chad’s friends, including Rechung Fujihira, co-founder of The Box Jelly.
One of the activities that will soon be featured on Experience Hawaii is the Makani Catamaran. The Makani is unlike the other catamarans that we’ve reviewed here (see Welakahao Waikiki Rigger and the Ho`Onanea Catamaran of the North Shore Catamaran Charters), instead, it’s more like a mini yacht. It’s 64 feet long, 32 feet wide, and hold up to 79 passengers with a crew of 5. It’s considerably larger than the Waikiki Rigger or the North Shore Catamaran. More importantly, the large size of the Makani allows for a smooth and comfortable sail.
“Makani’s history traces back to the 8,000 mile journey through the Panama Canal, up the coast of Central America, past Mexico, and finally to the Hawaiian Islands that was pioneered by Captain Jon Jepsen and his 3-man crew. The Makani began as a vision, transitioned into a conceptual plan, and emerged as a sophisticated sea vessel… Captain Jon Jepson joined architect Dave Wallworth and Gold Coast Yachts where they built and designed Makani from start to finish. With top of the line equipment, luxurious amenities, and a passionate team behind the construction, it is easy to see why this is a $1.8 million yacht.”
We checked in at Kewalo Basin at 5:00pm and departed at around 5:30pm. After a quick briefing with Makani Captain, Jon Jepsen, we were free to walk around the Makani at our leisure. As part of the Friday Night Fireworks Cruise, we were given two drink tickets and served a some appetizers. On the menu was chicken wraps, noodles, potatoes, and cookies. From experience, I learned that it’s not always the smartest move to eat heavy and drink a lot while on a boat. I tried to limit myself as best I could.
Most of the time was spent checking out the amazing views of Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head. Seeing Oahu from the ocean always offers a fresh perspective of the island. There was just one major rule that I remember from the briefing with the crew that I found a bit odd. No more than 3 (I believe that was the number) people were allowed on the net portion of the boat. I was a bit perplexed by this, considering that the smaller Waikiki Rigger has a similar net with no limitations. One of my favorite things about the Waikiki Rigger is being able to sit on the net and feel the cool ocean water splash against my skin. Another thing that I found to be not so desirable was the soundtrack for the evening. Whoever has control over the Makani’s sound system should reconsider their musical choices. At no time should disco music be allowed to be played during a relaxing and chill sunset cruise. Not even if John Travolta himself is present on the boat. Also, I waited the entire night to hear one Jimmy Buffett song, but alas, nada.
Despite those minor complaints, I had a wonderful time on the cruise. The waters were extremely calm, which made for an incredibly smooth sail. The cloudy sky produced some interesting color changes in the sky as the sun was setting. Once the sun set, we sort of chilled for a bit, talked story, and waited for the sky to turn black. In no time, fireworks from the Hilton Hawaiian Village lit up the evening sky.
The Makani Catamaran’ Friday Night Fireworks Cruise is priced at $69. Pricey? A little. Worth it? I think so. The price might be slightly more attractive if the bar was an open bar, much like the Waikiki Rigger. Despite this, the staff was friendly, the views were amazing, and the food was ok. If you’ve got the cash lying around, then give this 2.5 hour cruise a try. It’s something different. If you’re visiting the islands, then this is a great way to bid adieu to a fun-filled Friday.
1009 Ala Moana Blvd
Kewalo Basin Slip F-1
Honolulu, HI 96813
Explorers: Rechung Fujihara, Coty Gonzales,Â Chad Kahunahana, and Joel Sabugo.
Full disclosure: This activity was enjoyed free-of-charge. Mahalo to Makani Catamaran for having me and Experience Hawaii for inviting me.
Check out a few more photos from the cruise: