Hawaii Cruising Guide
An online cruising guide for yachts sailing around the islands of Hawaii.
Hawaii Click for larger view
|Capital:|| Honolulu |
|Currency:||US Dollar (USD)|
|More notes about the country|
|Content - news items, etc.|
The Hawaiian Islands, once known as the Sandwich Islands, form an archipelago of 19 islands and atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts trending northwest by southeast in the North Pacific Ocean between latitudes 19° N and 29° N. The archipelago takes its name from the largest island in the group and extends some 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from the Island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Excluding Midway, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States, the Hawaiian Islands form the U.S. State of Hawaii.
This archipelago represents the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the earth's mantle. At about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent, the Hawaiian Island archipelago is the most isolated grouping of islands on Earth.
Cruising the region
Climate & Weather
The islands receive most rainfall from the trade winds on their north and east flanks (called the windward side) as a result of orographic precipitation. Coastal areas in general and especially the south and west flanks or leeward sides, tend to be drier. Because of the frequent build-up of Tradewind clouds and potential showers, most tourist areas have been built on the leeward coasts of the islands.
In general, the Hawaiian Islands receive most of their precipitation during the winter months (October to April). Drier conditions generally prevail from May to September, but the warmer temperatures increase the risk of hurricanes (see below).
Temperatures at sea level generally range from high temperatures of 85-90 °F (29-32 °C) during the summer months to low temperatures of 65-70 °F (18-21 °C) during the winter months. Very rarely does the temperature rise above 90 °F (32 °C) or drop below 60 °F (16 °C) at lower elevations. Temperatures are lower at higher altitudes; in fact, the three highest mountains of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala sometimes receive snowfall during the winter.
The wind patterns on the islands are very complex. Though the trade winds are fairly constant in speed and duration, their relatively uniform air flow is distorted and disrupted by mountains, hills, and valleys. The usual regime is to have upslope winds by day and downslope winds by night. Local conditions that produce occasional violent winds are not well understood, even though the general causes of these winds can be surmised. These are very localized winds, observed only in a few areas. They sometimes reach speeds of 60 to 100 mph (160 km/h) and are best known in the settled areas of Kula and Lahaina on Maui. The Kula winds are strong downslope winds that occur on the lower slopes of the west side of Haleakala. These winds tend to be strongest between 2,000 and 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above mean sea level. The Lahaina winds are also downslope winds, but have somewhat different characteristics. They are also called “lehua winds” after the lehua tree, whose red blossoms fill the air when these strong winds blow. They issue from the canyons at the base of the main mountain mass of western Maui, where the steeper canyon slopes meet the more gentle piedmont slope below. These winds are quite infrequent, occurring every 8 to 12 years. They are extremely violent, with wind speeds of 80 to 100 mph (160 km/h) or more.
Hurricane season in the islands runs from June to November. Although Hawaii's relative isolation means that it is affected only rarely by tropical cyclones, a destructive storm will occasionally hit the Islands.
Sources of weather forecasting:
Any navigation notes here.
Local Radio Nets
Also see Cruiser's Nets
ALL vessels (including US registrations) must make entry to Hawaii at an official "port of entry" and must NOT stop elsewhere before clearing in. Note that even if arriving from mainland US, you have left US territorial waters from the mainland and then re-enter at Hawaii.
On arrival, ONLY the skipper must leave the vessel to ONLY report to Customs (no-one else to disembark until the clearance procedures have been fully completed). Customs working hours are 0800hrs -1630hrs, Monday to Friday. If arriving after hours, you must phone customs to notify them of your arrival - Ph:522 8012 ext 221 (after hours 237 4600).
- A Ship's Stores Declaration
- Detailed Crew list
- Clearance certificate from your previous port.
At some "ports of entry" Customs may also handle the Immigration and Health formalities - contact the harbour master who will in turn inform Customs.
US vessels arriving from a US port on the mainland who have not stopped at a foreign port en-route or have had no contact with any other vessel at sea, and who have only US citizens on board, do not need to clear customs, but must be inspected on arrival by an agricultural inspector of the State of Hawaii. They must inform the agricultural department of their status on arrival.
If you have any animals aboard you must immediately contact the Agriculture Deptartment at: Ph:522 8012 ext 240 (or after-hours 237 4603)
After clearance, foreign flagged vessels are granted a cruising permit. Foreign vessels must check in with Customs at each "port of entry" when they visit other islands. Instructions of the procedure will be given at the first "port of entry". US vessels are free to go anywhere in the "USA".
On departure all yachts (incl. US registered vessels), must obtain a customs clearance certificate.
From the Regulations:
- US regulations state that foreign yachts from certain countries can obtain a cruising licence on arrival, which exempts them from having to clear in and out in each port once the first entry clearance is completed. The countries which are eligible for this licence are Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Bermuda, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom (including Turks and Caicos, St Vincent, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Anguilla). This list, which includes countries that grant similar privileges to US yachts, is subject to change. The licence is issued on entry by customs. It is valid for up to one year. Successive licences are not usually granted.
- Foreign yachts, whether or not holding a cruising permit, are still supposed to notify customs by telephone on arrival in major ports.
- Yachts not entitled to a cruising licence must obtain a "Permit to Proceed" to each subsequent port and they must make entry at all major ports while cruising Hawaii.
- For US citizens, proof of citizenship is required only.
- Canadians require a valid passport.
- For all other nationalities a visa is required (visas must be obtained in advance from US Embassies and Consulates). The passport's validity must be for at least 6 months beyond the period of intended stay in Hawaii.
- All firearms and ammunition MUST be declared on arrival.
- Restrictions apply on importing plants and fresh produce (incl. eggs), so any fruit, vegetables, eggs, etc., on board may well be confiscated by the Agriculture official on arrival.
- Be sure to have Customs certified documentation and receipts for any dutiable items recently purchased in the USA. It is recommended to have a complete list of items aboard certified by US Customs before leaving the US.
- PETS: Hawaii is rabies free, so regulations regarding animals arriving are stricter than on the US mainland. Animals must be declared on arrival (includind animals arriving from mainland US), and will be sent to the Quarantine Centre in Honolulu, where, unless they meet the very strict requirements of the new in 2009 "5-day–or-less quarantine program", the animals must remain for 120 days or until the vessel departs from Hawaii. There is a daily fee for quarantine which must be paid in advance though "unused" days will be refunded. Information on the 5-day–or-less quarantine program may be found on the Hawaii Department of Agriculture Website. For further details contact the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, Hawaii. Ph: 96701-5602 or 808 4837151 or EMAIL
Foreign vessels are only permitted a 60 day stay in any calendar year in Hawaiian waters. For longer stays, a state registration for the boat is required.
Islands, Ports & Popular Stops
- Hawaii (Big Island)
- Line Islands
Charges and Fees
- Cruising Permit = US$19 (Aug'08)
- Customs charges = US$25 (incl. Decal) (Aug'08)
- Overtime = US$25 (Aug'08)
- Live-aboard charge = US$2 per person, per day (Aug'08)
- Nihau Island can only be visited with official permission.
- Military areas and Wildlife refuges - obtain current information and details about restricted areas when checking in.
- For more information see the Official Website
Submit any health warnings/information and any security details here.
Passages To/From Hawaii
Passage to/from United States
Describe this passage - departure/arrival points? Best time of year? Expected weather conditions? etc.
Transportation to mainland or other countries, etc.
References & Publications
Books, Guides, etc.
References & Publications
Publications, Guides, etc.
Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.
List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)
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