Fair Wind Cruises Celebrates 45 Years of Ocean AdventuresSeptember 14, 2016, 10:48 AM HST (Updated September 14, 2016, 10:49 AM)
Close to 1,000 excited water lovers crowded into Keauhou Bay last Saturday, Sept. 10, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Fair Wind Cruises in Kona.
Long lines didn’t deter the palpable enthusiasm as guests waited to board their chosen vessel for a jaunty cruise on the Hula Kai, or a fun jump into the ocean from the Fair Winds’ high dive.
Free hot dogs, shave ice and live entertainment kept passengers busy as they waited for their ship to come in—literally. For a small fee of $4.50, which was all donated to local nonprofit Reef Teach, it was a day of affordable fun and folly.
It all started 45 years ago when what was to be a brief stop in Kona during a cruise from Northern California to the South Pacific, turned into a long term adventure on the Island of Hawai‘i. Michael Dant built the original Fair Wind vessel in 1969 to sail the Pacific with his wife Janet and a small crew.
They set sail in 1971, but their itinerary hit an unexpected detour when the boat became damaged just off the Kona Coast. During the repair of their vessel, the Dants were so touched by the people they encountered and the true sense of aloha they experienced, they chose to relocate to Kona and start their own snorkel business.
After years of hard work and elbow grease, their company grew into a wildly successful ocean activity business with excursions to Kealakekua Bay, one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in the world. It became so popular, they started offering nighty dinner cruises that would often run two times a night to keep up with demand.
By 1975, the Dant’s were ready to take their adventure tours to a new level, which required some upgrades and changes. Some of these additions included their famous rainbow colored sails and waterslides. They also upgraded the lunch menu from sandwiches to a delicious barbecue meal that can be smelled with envy by occupants of the other boats in the bay.
In the early 80s, Michael and Janet sold the business to their son, Puhi and his wife Mendy, who continue to offer first class snorkel excursions. They purchased a second boat called the Hoʻokele, which was unfortunately destroyed in hurricane Iniki in 1992. However, this didn’t keep them down for long, as the family began construction on a new vessel, the Fair Wind II, that was completed in 1994.
The company added another additional family member to its fleet, the luxurious Hula Kai. This high speed catamaran is filled with first class amenities and serves delicious gourmet meals. The Hula Kai also operates a nightly manta ray snorkel, cited by the Travel Channel as being “One of the Top-Ten Things To Do In Your Lifetime.” Guests are treated to the majestic beauty of these “underwater ballerinas” and afterward get to warm up on the boat with homemade soups, dinner rolls and hot chocolate.
In 2013, sport fishing boat Captain Jack was added to the Fair Wind fleet and offers sports fisherman a spacious 43-foot space to relax and reel in a big one.
Today, Fair Wind Cruises continues to offer first-class snorkel excursions and share the beauty and aloha of Hawai‘i with locals and visitors alike.
Congratulations, Fair Wind, on 45 great years. Here’s to 45 more!