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Just as the sun began to set, two juvenile humpback whales shot out of the water and playfully slammed down on their sides. It was almost as if they were as enthralled to see the sky change from pink to purple as we were. The other couples on the cruise cheered and raised their mai tais each time we spotted a whale on the horizon. With six humpback sightings and schools of dolphins swimming beside our catamaran, this was a sunset sail we would be bragging about for years to come.
The sunset sail with Waikiki Beach Activities is not a whale watching cruise per se. However, during whale watching season, from late December to early May, it’s not uncommon to see humpback whales breaching or kicking their tails above the ocean’s surface. The catamaran cruise departs daily, except on Fridays, at 5:30 p.m. and costs $79 per adult. It includes a selection of local-style pupus (appetizers), unlimited soft drinks and two alcoholic beverages per guest.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, the home of Waikiki Beach Activities, is famous for its Friday night fireworks show. For $135 per person, clients can dine barefoot on the trampoline of a 54-foot, custom catamaran as they watch colorful explosions in the sky. There really can’t be a better front row seat. A typical menu might feature crab cakes with tropical fruit salsa, macadamia nut-crusted fish, roasted vegetables, grilled teriyaki chicken and dessert.
The tour operator also offers a Turtle Canyon snorkel excursion from 1:30 to 3 p.m. every day (for $65 per person) and a Turtle Canyon snorkel excursion with lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays, for $99 per person.
But a catamaran isn’t the only way to experience the joys of the Pacific Ocean with Waikiki Beach Activities. On my trip in January, I took a two-hour group surfing lesson with international visitors of all ages and skill sets. The most challenging part of the lesson was not catching the wave itself (the guides give guests a push when the wave draws near so they can hop up on their boards more easily), but the act of paddling out to the break. It’s a bit of a workout to get to the surf break, but Waikiki Beach Activities is the only outfitter providing lessons here, which helps ensure safety.
“The feedback that we’ve received is that our clients were able to enjoy one of the best beaches in the world and surf where the legend Duke Kahanamoku learned to surf,” said Mike Murray, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Waikiki Beach Activities.
At Duke’s Lagoon, on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, clients can try out the latest trend in watersports, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) yoga. Like a typical yoga class, SUP yoga incorporates breath work, sun salutations and inversion poses. Balancing on the board takes the poses to the next level and creates a more intense core workout. The lagoon is a calm place for beginners to give SUP a try, and its location means that participants can take in stunning views of Diamond Head and Waikiki.
Waikiki Beach Activitieswww.waikikibeach.com
Commission is 10 to 30 percent, depending on the activity.