Yacht Life on Oahu – Where to Keep Your Boat?

The Hawaiian Islands offer some of the best sailing in the world. As an avid skipper myself (and by avid I mean completely addicted to sailing), and being around boats my entire life, it was something that drew me to Oahu and made it my permanent home. Waikiki offers steady wind and a relatively calm bay for sailing and power boating all year. Diving, snorkeling, and swimming off your boat in the crystal-clear water is something everyone loves to do. It really is living the dream lifestyle! However, with the limited slips and moorings available on Oahu, let’s talk about where you can keep your boat when you live on Oahu.

Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

The largest and most well-known harbor is the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor located at 1651 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815. Even though the wait for a permeant slip can be 2 to several years, the harbor offers a temporary permit for 120 days a year. It is also relatively inexpensive depending on the size of your boat and can accommodate some pretty large vessels. For example, a 40-foot sail yacht would cost $15.63 per day. The representatives can easily quote you on any size boat via their direct phone line at: (808) 973-9727

Bondi Tram anchored for some swimming and diving in Waikiki

The Ala Wai Harbor is the end point of the world famous Transpac sailing race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, which takes place every two years. It was just completed this year with the last yacht arriving in Honolulu on July 21st, 2017. There is a large channel that is easy to maneuver and is close to everything Honolulu has to offer.

There are two private yacht clubs in Honolulu: the Waikiki Yacht Club and the Hawaii Yacht Club. Both offer permanent slips for all different sized yachts. These clubs are located right next to the Ala Wai Harbor. As a regular member of either club, the wait can be anywhere from 2 to 10 years, but temporary slips are available. Both clubs have restaurants, bars, and a lot of ocean activities to participate in such as canoe paddling, Cal 20 races, and sailing lessons. Hawaii Yacht club hosts the weekly Friday night “Beer Can” sail yacht races, with live music to follow at each club. I frequent at both clubs weekly, and they are highly enjoyable, filled with great people that love to spend time sailing or power boating.

50-foot temp slip in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

Kewalo Harbor

Kewalo Harbor is another excellent option located at 1125 Ala Moana Blvd. B-1 Honolulu, HI 96814. Kewalo Harbor is in the Kaka’ako District of Honolulu where new and beautifully build condominiums are going up. See my other blog on “Living in Kaka’ako.”  Slips range from 40 to 100 feet. Both members and visitors have access to three loading docks, electricity, water, vehicle parking and restrooms. Living across the street in a condo and having your boat slip in Kewalos would be very convenient. Ward village offers a ton of shops and great restaurants to eat at after a day on the ocean. You would still go right out the large channel and head for diamond head to enjoy all Waikiki has to offer.

Diamond Head and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

Outside Honolulu

If you choose to circle the island and leave Honolulu, you have a few other options.  On the west side, there is Ko’olina Marina located at 92-100 Waipahe Pl, Kapolei, HI 96707. This is a live aboard marina that has access to water, electricity, cable television hookup, telephone, laundry and restroom facilities, picnic area with barbecue and gated entry to the Marina. There is a 160-foot floating fuel dock offering both diesel and gasoline with a pump out station. Guest rates are $2.50 per foot per day as well as a waiting list for permanent slips. Surrounded by hotels, golf courses, and restaurants, Ko’olina is a great place to park your yacht. The snorkeling on the west side is phenomenal, and dolphins are known to swim very close to shore every day giving you the opportunity to see these beautiful animals. There are a lot of properties to choose from if you are thinking of buying a home in Ko’olina. Townhouses on the golf courses, villas, condominiums and single family homes, most offering two or three bedrooms are all inside this gated community and minutes from the marina.

The small boat harbor on the North Shore is called Haleiwa Harbor. This is actually the toughest harbor to secure a long-term slip. The wait time is 8-20 years as it is the only safe harbor on the North Shore. During the summer months, many boaters sail up to Waimea Bay and anchor on the sand. They grill off their boats and sleep over for days at a time to just swim and kayak in the beautiful water. I have personally done this, and it is so relaxing, peaceful, and I highly recommend it to any cruiser. If you are staying for many days, it helps to have a small dingy to go into shore to get supplies or go to dinner in Haleiwa town.

Another option is buying a property that comes with a boat slip. One of my favorite gated communities is the Makani Kai Marina located at 45-995 Wailele Rd, Kaneohe 96744. These condos offer large 2-3 bedroom units with Kaneohe Bay Views, large lanais, a pool, clubhouse and a private Marina. As the units are extremely rare and hardly come on the market, when they do, they range from $700k-$800k depending on the size and view and come with your own boat slip. Large slips are available in this marina and the world-class Kaneohe sandbar is easy to access from the channel.

Hawaii Kai Slips

Gateway Peninsula located in West Marina, Hawaii Kai, offers boat slips with their townhome units. 3 bedroom/2 baths range in the high $800k and offer access to Koko Marina and are located very close to Honolulu. You can take your powerboat to some of the great restaurants such as Kona brewing company or Assaggio’s Italian, or do your weekly shopping at Costco from the waterway. There are lots of single family home options on the waterway if you wish to have a power boat sitting outside your door. Size restrictions do matter, but it’s another great option for the avid power boater.

Racing in Honolulu

All in all, here on Oahu we have a great sailing and power yachting community. There is nothing better than a great day out on the ocean. Contact me if you have more questions about the boating life on Oahu, or if you plan to move to the islands with or without your yacht. Also, I must add, if you are wondering how to get your boat here, I deliver yachts from the mainland if you prefer to have her sailed over!

Comments (9) Show CommentsHide Comments (Remember)

Cool. Add your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private, this form is secure and we never spam you.


July 25, 2017

My gosh Ashley you are so knowledgeable. I want to go sailing with you.

Leiola Augustine

July 31, 2017

What a well written article Ashely! You’ve got just enough information to keep the dream alive without overwhelming the reader. I’ll be sure to reference this article in the future. Costco via boat!?!?! Incredible…..

Fannie Cline

August 8, 2017

Great in-depth overview of options Ashley! Mahalo!

Yacht charter Monaco

August 23, 2017

Hey Ashley Bailey, Nice blog. The yachts are very beautiful nad the information you shared is very nice. If you want you can also visit Superyacht charter Monaco .

Alan McConnell

November 20, 2017

Great article, Ashley. I wish only to point out that Keehi Small Boat State) harbor and Keehi Sailing club (private) are at 4 Sand Island Access Road, near HNL airport. The former typically has temporary offshore mooring most of the time, and some temporary slips are sometimes available.

Waianae also has a recreational harbor in the north-west side of Oahu, as does Kailua to the east. If you’re active duty or retired military or DOT, Rainbow Marina may be a good choice.

You’re correct that permanent slips often have extraordinary waiting lists. Services available at most harbors are adequate, though state harbors tend to be “no frills”. Few harbors monitor marine channels, so be prepared for cell phone communications. Sailing conditions are great year around, but Fishing and Diving are better planned elsewhere. Especially the former. But if you’re in to surfing, beach bummin’, or any number of other ocean activities, Hawaii has them all.

Finally, don’t expect locals or the state or local government to extend much aid to sailors. For some reason, they seem to actively discourage pleasure boaters in the islands.

Aloha nui loa,

Emily goodall

May 22, 2019

Please don’t mislead people about the yachting scene out here. I too have been a lifelong boater having spent many years circumnavigating the world. My home base has always been Hawaii and I can tell you from first-hand experience this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a premier sailing location. First of all the channels between the islands are some of the roughest in the world, at times, and can be very dangerous for anyone who is not thoroughly experienced with rough-water sailing . . . In fact only the most experienced should consider venturing out into the channels. Secondly, there is little in the way of good viable anchorage’s here in Hawaii. Most of the anchorages here are exposed to t the open ocean and can sometimes be very dangerous. Sailors who anchor on their own ground tackle in offshore anchorage’s here have to be alert all the time for changing weather conditions. Thirdly, the small boat harbor situation in the state of Hawaii is in absolute chaos. The DLNR and DOBOR, the state agencies who are responsible for managing our Harbor have completely & utterly failed the boating community here. You can expect to wait, sometimes, up to 10 years to get a permanent mooring here in Hawaii. Boaters here pay heavily for the bungling of these State agencies. Sadly what could be a premier boating environment, turns out to be very disappointing.


September 9, 2019

Hello! I am trying to sail to Hawaii and live somewhere around the north shore , is this possible ? Would like to be in a mooring field, or what’s best ?

Alex Gojile

June 23, 2020

Good article
Can we get an update version?

Joe Kennedy

January 6, 2022

Great article Ashley!

I would love to live on a 35-38′ power yacht in Hawaii and am open to both renting or buying.

More Articles from Hawaii Life