Along the Kona Coast you can find some of the world's most exciting "blue-water" fishing. Although July, August, and September are peak months, with the best fishing and a number of tournaments, charter fishing goes on year-round. You don't have to compete to experience the thrill of landing a Pacific blue marlin or other big game fish. Some 60 charter boats, averaging 26 to 58 feet, are available for hire, most of them out of Honokohau Harbor, north of Kailua-Kona.
For an exclusive charter, prices generally range from $400 to $750 for a half-day trip (about four hours) and $600 to $1,300 for a full day at sea (about eight hours). For share charters, rates range from about $100 to $140 per person for a half-day and $200 for a full day. If fuel prices continue increasing, expect charter costs to rise. Most boats are licensed to take up to six passengers, in addition to the crew. Tackle, bait, and ice are furnished, but you'll usually have to bring your own lunch. You won't be able to keep your catch, although if you ask, many captains will send you home with a few fillets.
Honokohau Harbor's Fuel Dock. Big fish are weighed in at Honokohau Harbor's Fuel Dock. Show up around 11:30 am and watch the weigh-in of the day's catch from the morning charters, or around 3:30 pm for the afternoon charters. Weigh-ins are not a sure thing, but are fun when the big ones come in. If you're lucky, you'll get to see a "grander," a fish weighing in at 1,000-plus pounds. A surprising number of these are caught just outside Kona Harbor. On Kona's Waterfront Row, look for the "Grander's Wall" of anglers with their prizes. Honokohau Harbor, Kealakehe Pkwy. at Hwy. 11, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
Boats and Charters
Before you sign up with anyone, think about the kind of trip you want. Looking for a romantic cruise? A rockin' good time with your buddies? Serious fishing in one of the "secret spots"? A family-friendly excursion? Be sure to describe your expectations so your booking agent can match you with a captain and a boat that suits your style.
Charter Locker. This company offers half- and full-day charter fishing trips on 30- to 52-foot vessels. You can even book the luxurious Blue Hawaii, which has air-conditioned staterooms for overnight trips. Rates depend on the boat. Honokohau Harbor, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy., just south of the Kona airport, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/326-2553. www.charterlocker.com.
Charter Services Hawaii. Run for over 20 years by Ed and Audrey Barry, this booking service represents several Kona fishing boats and can assist with all the details in arranging a charter. PHONE: 808/334-1881 or 800/567-2650. www.konazone.com.
The Charter Desk at Honokohau Harbor. With about 60 boats on the books, this place can take care of almost anyone. You can make arrangements through your hotel activity desk, but we suggest you go down to the desk at the harbor and look things over for yourself. Honokohau Harbor, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/329-5735 or 888/566-2487. www.charterdesk.com.
Humdinger Sportfishing. This game fisher guide has more than three decades of fishing experience in Kona waters. The experienced crew are marlin specialists. The 37-foot Humdinger has the latest in electronics and top-line rods and reels. Half-day exclusive charters begin at $600, full-day exclusives at $950. Honokohau Harbor, Slip B-4, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/936-3034 or 800/926-2374. www.humdingersportfishing.com.
Illusions Sportfishing. Captain Tim Hicks is one of Kona's top fishing tourney producers with 19 years of experience. The 39-foot Illusions is fully equipped with galley, restrooms, an air-conditioned cabin for guest comfort, plus the latest in fishing equipment. Half-day exclusive charters begin at $500, full-day exclusives at $875. Honokohau Harbor, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy., just South of Kona airport, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/960-7371. www.illusionssportfishing.com.
Kona Charter Skippers Association. In business since 1956, this company can help arrange half-day and full-day exclusive or share charters on several boats. The Pamela is the featured boat. 74-857 Iwalani Pl., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/936-4970. www.konabiggamefishing.com.
Bwana Sportfishing. Full-, half-, quarter-, three-quarter-day, and overnight charters are available on the 46-foot Bwana. The boat features all the latest electronics, top-of-the-line equipment, and air-conditioned cabins. Captain Teddy comes from a fishing family; father Peter is retired but still affiliated with the Kona Charter Skippers Association. A half-day charter costs $750, while the full-day tour is $1,250. Honokohau Harbor, Slip H-17, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy., just south of Kona airport, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/936-5168. www.teddyhoogs.com.