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Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

Saturday, January 13, 2001

Kona Coast’s calm,
‘virtual’ fishing holes

I am amazed by the number of reader responses this column receives because of the Star-Bulletin's Web site, and how far-flung our readership has become due to Internet technology.

For instance, I received an e-mail last week from a fellow in Nebraska who said being able to read this newspaper online had virtually extended his recent vacation to Hawaii.

"I still feel connected with your beautiful islands," he wrote.

He went on to write that on his next vacation to Hawaii, he would like to go marlin fishing and wondered if I had any advice regarding the best place to charter a boat.

My first reaction was to quickly begin extolling the virtues of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. After all, there are many reasons why a visiting angler would find the Kona Coast "one of the best fishing holes in the world," as the Hawaiian International Billfish Association's chairman Peter Fithian has called it.

Perhaps the best reason for someone, particularly from the Midwest, to make Kona their choice would be the area's lake-like waters.

When our tradewinds are blowing up 10- to 20-foot seas around the state, the Big Island's twin 13,000-foot-plus volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, create a very effective shield for its leeward coast. With no wind, the Pacific can live up to its name.

Also, the ocean bottom along the Kona Coast drops off quickly to depths where big billfish roam. This means anglers don't need to venture very far off shore to be in the hunt, which adds to a more user-friendly fishing experience.

Another virtue of Hawaii's Kona Coast is the large number of charter boats available to the visiting angler.

Kailua-Kona's nearby Honokohau Harbor is the home to more than 120 "six-pack" sportfishers -- boats that can legally take out a maximum of six passengers. That is twice the number of charter boats found in the rest of the state.

STILL, to answer the e-mail question honestly, with all its virtues, the Kona Coast isn't the only place in the islands where visiting anglers can go trolling for the "big one."

Charter boats are available on Molokai at Kaunakakai, on Kauai at Port Allen and Nawiliwili Harbor, on Maui at Lahaina and Maalaea harbors and on Oahu at Kewalo Basin, Keehi Lagoon and at the new, private Ko Olina Marina.

According to a recent study of the state's charter boat industry, boats from all of these harbors are nearly equal with Kona's in their ability to capture game fish, albeit their anglers may have a less comfortable ride. And all of these islands have distinct personalities and offer varied off-the-water activities for anglers and non-anglers alike.

Looking for solitude? Then Molokai is the place. Rather have a truly tropical setting? Kauai would be the perfect pick. Always dreamed of seeing "Heavenly Hana," or strolling the streets of historic Lahaina Town? Book a flight to Maui.

Not surprisingly, the big-city nightlife of Honolulu and Waikiki have their attractions for many of Hawaii's visitors. And for the angler, Oahu's leeward coast can, at times, be like a miniature Kona Coast.

Hopefully my reader in Nebraska will have plenty of time on his next vacation so he can give them all a try.

Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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