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by Melissa Mejia, staff writer

TheBoat, O‘ahu’s newest mode of transportation, started service last month between Aloha Tower [downtown] and Kalaeloa [Barber’s Point].

It is not a new idea. Passenger ferry between downtown and Leeward O‘ahu has actually been tried twice before, each time with federal subsidies. However, this time the City of Honolulu has made an effort to link the ferry to parking and surface transportation at both ends, and provided a single round-trip fare to cover everything: bus service to the boat from several leeward locations, including Waianae, Makakilo, and Kapolei, the ferry ride itself, and bus service from Aloha Tower into Honolulu.

The whole experience has been made convenient and TheBoat itself is a comfortable environment for traveling.

Not surprisingly, TheBoat’s interior design is accommodating towards its passengers. Downstairs in the main deck there is table seating large enough for more than five people, with adequate space for doing work on a laptop or finishing up homework. The main and upper-deck interior-seating areas are air-conditioned and are lined with cushion seating, carpeted floors, and wood-paneled walls.
The ride to Kaleloa took less than an hour and was smooth, with little choppiness that may cause any motion sickness. Sitting inside is pleasant, however the view was limited, even with the windows open. The outside seating comprises facing benches with limited aisle space between them, uncovered so passengers can experience the refreshing ocean breeze and bow spray.

Passengers on the outside deck are also able to stand near the railing comfortably and take pictures. Compared to popular dinner cruises, which travel towards Diamond Head, the views seen from TheBoat allow passengers to see O‘ahu’s industrial ports in Honolulu harbor, planes arriving and departing from Honolulu International Airport, Sand Island, and, on reaching Kaleloa, the Ko Olina Resort.

The crew was helpful and polite. They reviewed safety procedures and instructions about what to do in case of a “man overboard” event. Throughout the ride, they mingled to make sure passengers were safe and secure.

When TheBoat docked in Kaleloa, three buses were waiting to transport passengers to Kapolei, where passengers traveling into town parked their cars at the Kapolei theatres, and to Makakilo and the Waianae Coast.

Coming back on the boat was a different experience. In the afternoon, sitting outside was beautiful with the sun highlighting the water and the sails of boats playing along O‘ahu’s shores. TheBoat crew members warned passengers that the ride was going to be rough, and that there was a chance the TheBoat would be “airborne” at times. Their caution was welcome, as the ride was bumpy and unpredictable, and if you weren’t aware, the dips would catch you off guard.

If you have two hours to spare and you’re looking for something to do, TheBoat is the perfect opportunity for a new perspective on the Leeward coast. The ride is affordable, about the same as a bus ride.

The morning ride is relaxing, different from the stress of freeway gridlock. The afternoon ride is a little more appropriate for thrill seekers. The trips both ways were quick and interesting, with new views and a new perspective on the island and on travel. Still, any one who gets seasick might find land transportation more appropriate.

Photos by Angela Sorace


A group of passengers waiting to board on the Melissa Ann. The ferries dock for five minutes at the end of each trip.


At the beginning of each journey, staff of the TheBoat go through safety procedures with passengers.

 

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