If you've stayed anywhere on Waikiki Beach chances are you've seen the white and teal sail and hull of the Waikiki Rigger Catamaran (formerly known as the Outrigger Catamaran) sailing the waters off of Waikiki. The catamaran makes several daily speed sails, three weekly eco sail and snorkel tours, and daily sunset sails. Each embarks from the beach in front of the Outrigger Reef Hotel.
On a former trip to Oahu, I was invited to go out on one of their sails. My schedule was tight, but I was able to schedule an evening sunset sailing cruise. I was staying at the Castle Waikiki Shore, located right next to the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Resort, so getting to the catamaran was just a short 5-minute walk along the beach. For anyone staying from the Hilton Hawaiian Village to the Sheraton Waikiki, this is easily the most convenient sailing opportunity in Waikiki.
I was excited to get out on the water and view the Waikiki Hotels and beach at sunset. I had seen the Outrigger Catamaran just a couple of days before as I tendered out to the Atlantis Submarine from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. They were on one of their speed sails and I was amazed how fast the Outrigger Catamaran can move in a swift breeze.
Unfortunately, on the evening of my sunset sail, there were overcast skies and virtually no breeze, so our sunset sail became a sunset cruise under engine power. While disappointed, I know that a true test of any activity provider is how they perform in less than ideal conditions. Rest assured, the crew of the Waikiki Rigger Catamaran did just fine.
About the Outrigger Catamaran
At 45 feet long and 24 feet wide, the Waikiki Rigger Catamaran is the biggest and most comfortable boat on Waikiki beach. It is able to accommodate 40 passengers. As a Trans-Pacific speed record holder, it is also the fastest, and therefore smoothest at cutting through swells. On a typical trade wind day, it is not unusual for the boat to reach speeds over 20 knots.
Features include a full-service bar, deluxe comfort cushion seating, a restroom with hand washing sink, all new USCG safety equipment, a sun tanning trampoline net, and digital Bose CD surround-sound stereo system. Bright teal hulls and sail designs make the Waikiki Rigger Catamaran easily identifiable and one of the prettiest boats on the beach.
The Waikiki Rigger Catamaran is independently owned and operated. Our captain Brad advised me that they have been operating in Waikiki for about three years. He and five other folks own the boat and handle most of the work involved in each of the boat's daily sails.
Embarking the boat was very easy with the light evening surf. As we took our seats either on the net or in the seating areas along the side and center of the catamaran, we received the brief required coast guard safety instructions and then swiftly made our way out to the waters off Waikiki.
Awesome Views of Waikiki
I always love seeing Waikiki from the ocean. You get a whole different view of this two-square-mile area. Just a little over a hundred years ago there were no hotels in Waikiki.
In the days of the Hawaiian Monarchy and before, Hawaiian Royalty used to maintain beach houses along the narrow stretch of beach known as Waikiki (Spouting Water). Much of the land, however, was marsh and wetlands that flooded often when heavy rains swelled the Manoa and Palolo Streams. The area teamed with mosquitoes. The first hotel in Waikiki was the Moana Hotel, now part of the Westin Moana Surfrider property. It was not until the 1920's when the Ala Wai Canal was dredged and the springs, ponds, and marshes filled that today's Waikiki began to take shape.
Waikiki is now filled with high-rise hotels and condominiums, shopping malls and restaurants. As you sail away from the beach the size of Waikiki comes into full view. Diamond Head looms large to the east and the Koolau Mountain Range towers above Waikiki just a few miles inland.
One property stands out above all others as you sail the waters off of Waikiki Beach - the Pink Palace, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened on February 1, 1927, ushered in a new era in luxurious resort living in Hawaii for the small but growing number of wealthy tourists. When built it had Waikiki Beach much to itself. Nearby were the Moana and Seaside Hotels, and a hotel that opened in 1907 and later became the Halekulani.
Rigger Splash Bar Refreshment Choices
The Waikiki Rigger Catamaran features the full-service Rigger Splash Bar and for the sunset sail, all drinks are included in the cost of your cruise.
The boat's signature drink is the Rigger Cocktail a combination of POG juice, rum, and other signature ingredients served in a special Rigger Shaker. Beer, wine, champagne, Margaritas, juice, and soda are also all available.
You're sure to get your money's worth in liquid refreshment alone, but make sure you keep your head and your balance since the ocean's pretty deep out there. Waikiki Rigger Catamaran tee shirts and hats are also available for sale.
Sail Offerings and Booking Information
Before too long, the sun begins to set in west as evening falls on Waikiki. Waikiki sunsets are almost always lovely and often are better when there is a slight cloud cover to catch and bend the sun's departing rays.
By this time you've probably struck up a conversation with several others onboard. Our sail included three honeymoon couples each of which happily took their turn standing behind the wheel to have their pictures taken by Captain Brad.
The Waikiki Rigger Catamaran Sunset Cocktail Sail is available daily. Call 866-482-9775 for the current price for the 1 1/2 to 2 hour cruise. The sunset sail departs at 5:00 p.m. in winter and 5:30 p.m. in summer from Waikiki Beach in front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Hotel.
They also offer daily Tradewinds Sail that departs at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. On these cruises with good winds you'll see what this catamaran can really do when she stretches her sea legs. The cost is $34 per person plus tax and fees.