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Four core values — each deeply rooted in the Hawaiian virtue system — form the foundation of Trilogy Excursions: hookipa (hospitality), ike loa (perpetual learning), lokahi (teamwork) and aloha (love and kindness).
“We want each guest to feel like an honored family member when they come out with us,” said LiAnne Driessen, director of sales and marketing for the Maui tour operator.
For Trilogy, family has always come first: Driessen’s grandfather was Eldon Coon, a charter boat captain from Alaska. When living in Washington, Coon and his sons, Randy and Jim (who is Driessen’s father and a founder and current co-owner of Trilogy), built a 50-foot trimaran that they named Trilogy — a tribute to the trio’s dedication to working together.
Later, with the entire family of five onboard — Jeanette, Coon’s wife, and their daughter had joined as well — what was intended to be a short shakedown cruise from Seattle to San Francisco spiraled into two years of sailing the Pacific. Eventually, in 1973, Hawaii won the family’s heart, as well as its permanent zip code. July of that year marked Trilogy’s first commercial charter out of Lahaina Harbor on Maui.
Today, the family-owned and -run business has evolved into one of Maui’s leading operators, ranking No. 1 for tours in Lahaina on TripAdvisor. And while on Trilogy’s Discover Kaanapali tour in April, my partner, Ben, and I certainly felt its familial warmth.
As the pristine Trilogy III sailed toward Honolua Bay, crew introductions and a safety briefing preceded breakfast: cinnamon rolls dripping with almond-macadamia-walnut frosting, along with fresh fruit and hot drinks. When I resisted asking for seconds and, instead, inquired which bakery made the cinnamon rolls, a guide revealed that they had been baked that morning from a family recipe.
When lunch rolled around, we learned that the marinade on the teriyaki chicken — barbecued by the sailing catamaran's captain — and the blue-cheese vinaigrette salad dressing were also Coon originals. What's more, all meals were hand-delivered on real dishware.
Trilogy Excursions has operated snorkeling and sailing tours on Maui since July 1973. // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
Tours load directly from the beach, through the water and onto the boat. // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
The Discover Kaanapali tour sails onboard Trilogy III, the company’s newest sailing catamaran. // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
Though the tour can accommodate up to 49 passengers, service is personalized and excellent. // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
The writer and her partner snorkeling near Honolua Bay // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
Guests may spot marine life, including sea turtles. // © 2017 Trilogy Excursions
Overall, service was thoughtful and personalized, despite the tour being able to accommodate up to 49 passengers. On the return sail to Kaanapali Beach, for example, adult passengers received two alcoholic drinks, including delicious craft cocktails and local brews, and all guests were treated to an ice cream sundae. Regrettably lactose-intolerant, I gazed longingly at Ben’s treat and assumed I would go without dessert — until a cup of acai topped with banana and granola appeared and happily snapped me out of my wistful reverie.
Those unable to swim need not be deterred from taking the tour. In addition to wearing required life vests, such guests can hang off a surfboard and receive special guidance. (A guide is always supervising the scene.) There’s also the tantalizing option of simply lolling on the deck under the sun’s rays, with drinks and snacks within reach and nearby Honolua Bay in view.
Despite the inlet’s alluring beauty, though, Ben and I favored the lovely spectacle underwater. Outfitted with snorkeling gear, we jumped right in, then swam with eyes wide open in hot pursuit of turtles, fish and other marine creatures hanging out near the reef. Though life was wonderful on the deck of Trilogy III, it felt even better under the sea.