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Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

posts: 34
reviews: 12
Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

I know there is a lot of controversy about snorkeling here. I had been planning on not visiting the area, but after reading some recent reviews of kayaking trips am reconsidering. I know the only three legal tours are Kona Boys, Aloha, and Adventures in Paradise. They all seem to get good reviews but have huge differences in pricing which makes me worry that I am missing something. Any suggestions/inside info? TIA!

posts: 1,595
reviews: 36
1. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

It's not really controversy, Jamie, so much as differing perceptions about the importance of allowing areas that have experienced extreme overuse to have a chance to rest and heal. Many of us have advocated on behalf of that approach for Kealakekua Bay, but it's also understood that many visitors will not understand, nor share that sense of stewardship.

Getting out on, and in, our beautiful waters is a great way to experience Hawaii Island. Over the past 20 years, though, Kealakekua Bay has borne the brunt of a huge amount of tourism attention. IMO, the reason for that is because although the snorkeling around the Captain Cook monument is definitely no better than many other places on the west side of the island, it's difficult to reach by land, and since the water in the bay is generally fairly calm, kayak tours (guided or self-guided) became a VERY marketable concept, and many operators jumped on the bandwagon - resulting in much more action than the area could handle.

25 years ago, there was a very nice underwater garden there, its main unique feature being the sharp drop-off into the deep blue waters of the bay. But today, the coral formations are maybe 1/4 what they were then, and the fish far fewer.

Still, it's a nice excursion. But you are likely to be there with a gazillion other people. The cars start piling up at the top of Napo'opo'o Road early in the morning for the hike down to Ka'awaloa, so the waters will already have lots of people who arrived on foot. Then the big tour boats start arriving. The DLNR has put no limit on the number of tour boats allowed, so on some days it's insane.

When looking at the differing prices of the kayak tours, they are really not all that different, considering the length of each. You're paying for the amount of time you are out on the water, and whether you go in the morning (more expensive, snorkeling is generally better then) or the afternoon.

Of the three operators, I would personally recommend Kona Boys, then Aloha Kayak, then Adventures in Paradise. But you're not going to see a huge amount of difference between them; they all operate safe, informative, fun tours.

But I would urge you to consider whether in your own values and priorities might lead you to choose to not contribute to the over-use of Kealakekua Bay. For lots of kayaking fun on a really nice beach, head down to Ho'okena where the community group "Friends of Ho'okena Beach" has a kayak rental concession. You'll have a blast kayaking, swimming, and boogie-boarding here - you might see my 4-year-old grandson out there on the mini-kayak we gave him for Christmas! - it's his favorite beach.

Check out the snorkel tips at the right for lots of great guidance on wonderful snorkel places. And wherever you decide to go in the water, PLEASE use reef-safe sunscreen!

Edited: 1:09 pm, May 26, 2013
Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 15,236
reviews: 69
2. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

I completely agree with wahine on all points. As I also mentioned on the other thread, I know you're here now and there has been and is continuing to be a south swell. You'll likely be more comfortable and have much visibility on a northern based kayak tour like Kohala Kayak.

Practical matters aside, I really would like it if everyone who visits here would do as wahine says and consider not contributing to the overuse of Kealakekua Bay.

posts: 9
3. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

Kona Boys is great to deal with. I would definitely recommend doing this despite the controversy it creates on this forum

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
posts: 15,236
reviews: 69
4. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

Just to clarify, Kona Boys isn't controversial at all. Like wahine, I recommend them, they're a responsible and well-regarded operator. And if you're going to do it, taking a kayak tour is much better IMO than on one of the zodiacs.

New York City, New...
posts: 2
reviews: 7
5. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

My husband and I took a kayak trip at the end of April of the Kealakekua Bay with Aloha Kayak and it was phenomenal. I suggest that you do not miss it. Our guide demonstrated the utmost respect for the ecology and wildlife of the bay. . Only the two of us showed up for the tour and Aloha gave us a private trip instead of cancelling it. It was one of the highlights of our trip, and it is well worth giving your business to this native owned company.

6. Re: Which kayaking tour for Kealakekua?

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