If fishing is your sport, Maui is your island. In these waters you'll find ahi, aku (skipjack tuna), barracuda, bonefish, kawakawa (bonito), mahimahi, Pacific blue marlin, ono, and ulua (jack crevalle). You can fish year-round and you don't need a license. Because boats fill up fast during busy seasons, make reservations before coming to Maui.
Plenty of fishing boats run out of Lahaina and Maalaea harbors. If you charter a private boat, expect to spend in the neighborhood of $700 to $1,000 for a thrilling half day in the swivel seat. You can share a boat for much less if you don't mind close quarters with a stranger who may get seasick, drunk, or worse—lucky! Before you sign up, you should know that some boats keep the catch. Most will, however, fillet a nice piece for you to take home. And if you catch a real beauty, you might even be able to have it professionally mounted.
You're expected to bring your own lunch and beverages in unbreakable containers. (Shop the night before; it's hard to find snacks at 6 am.) Boats supply coolers, ice, and bait. A 7% tax is added to the cost of a trip, and a 10% to 20% tip for the crew is suggested.
Finest Kind Sportfishing. A 1,118-pound blue marlin was reeled in by the crew aboard Finest Kind, a lovely 37-foot Merritt kept so clean you'd never guess the action it's seen. Captain Dave has been around these waters for about 40 years, long enough to befriend other expert fishers. This family-run company operates four boats and specializes in live bait. Shared charters start at $150 for four hours and go up to $195 for a full day. Private trips go from $800 to $1,100. No bananas on board, please; the captain thinks they're bad luck for fishing. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 7, Lahaina, HI, 96761. PHONE: 808/661-0338. www.finestkindsportfishing.com.
Hinatea Sportfishing. This company is well established and has an excellent reputation. The active crew aboard the 41-foot Hatteras has one motto: "No boat rides here—we go to catch fish!" Charters go from $150 to $210 for a shared boat and from $800 to $1,100 for a private boat. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 27, Lahaina, HI, 96761. PHONE: 808/667-7548. www.mauisportfishingcharters.com.
Jayhawk Charters. This ultraluxe, 48-foot Cabo is available for private charters and takes a maximum of six passengers. It's equipped with air-conditioning, two bathrooms, a salon, and three comfy staterooms with the latest music, video, and satellite TV channels. For serious anglers, the boat also has Shimano rods and reels, a black-box sonar, and the latest in fish finders, GPS, and chart plotters. Rates are $700 an hour, and a full day runs up to $4,800. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 63, Lahaina, HI, 96761. PHONE: 877/661-0338. www.mauisportfishingcharters.com.
Kai Palena Sportfishing. Captain Fuzzy Alboro runs a highly recommended operation on the 33-foot Die Hard. Check-in is at 1:45 am. He takes a minimum of four and maximum of six people. The cost is from $150 for a shared boat to $1,175 for a private charter. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 10, Lahaina, HI, 96761. PHONE: 808/878-2362. www.diehardsportfishing.com.
Start Me Up Sportfishing. With more than 20 years in business, Start Me Up has a fleet of seven boats, all impeccably maintained. These 42-foot Bertram Sportfishers offer some of the most comfortable fishing trips around. The company provides an ice chest, tackle, and equipment. A two-hour shared boat is $99 per person, while a private charter runs from $299 for two hours to $999 for eight hours. There's a six-person maximum. Lahaina Harbor, Slip 12, Lahaina, HI, 96761. PHONE: 808/667-2774. www.sportfishingmaui.com.
Strike Zone. This is one of the few charter companies to offer both morning bottom-fishing trips (for smaller fish such as snapper) and deep-sea trips (for the big ones—ono, ahi, mahimahi, and marlin). Strike Zone is a 43-foot Delta that offers plenty of room for up to 16 people. Lunch and soft drinks are included. The catch is shared with the entire boat. The cost is $168 per person for a pole; spectators can ride for $78. All trips leave at 6:30 am. Maalaea Harbor, Slip 64, Maalaea, HI, 96793. PHONE: 808/879-4485. www.strikezonemaui.com..