Big-game fish, including gigantic blue marlin and other Pacific billfish, tuna, sailfish, swordfish, ono (wahoo), and giant trevallies (ulua), roam the waters of the Kona Coast, known as the marlin capital of the world. When anglers catch marlin weighing 1,000 pounds or more, they call them “granders”; there’s even a “wall of fame” in Kailua-Kona’s Waterfront Row shopping mall honoring those who’ve nailed more than 20 tons of fighting fish. Nearby photos show celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone posing with their slightly less impressive catches. The celebrities of the fishing world descend on Kailua-Kona in August for the 5-day Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (www.hibtfishing.com), founded in 1959. Note that it’s not all carnage out there: Teams that tag and release marlin under 300 pounds get bonus points.
Nearly 100 charter boats with professional captains and crew offer fishing charters out of Keauhou, Kawaihae, Honokohau, and Kailua Bay harbors. If you’re not an expert angler, the best way to arrange a charter is through a booking agency such as the Charter Desk at Honokohau Marina (www.charterdesk.com; 888/566-2487 or 808/326-1800), which can sort through the more than 60 different types of vessels and fishing specialties to match you with the right boat. Prices range from $750 to $3,500 or so for a full-day exclusive charter (you and up to five friends have an entire boat to yourselves) or $450 to $600 for a half-day. One or two people may be able to book a “share” on boats that hold four to eight anglers, who take turns fishing—generally for smaller catch—to increase everyone’s chances of hooking something. Shares start at $95 to $150 per person for half-day trips, $250 for a full day.
Note: Most big-game charter boats carry six passengers max, and the boats supply all equipment, bait, tackle, and lures. No license is required. Many captains now tag and release marlins; other fish caught belong to the boat, not to you—that’s island style. If you want to eat your catch or have your trophy mounted, arrange it with the captain before you go.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.