What started off as a brief rendezvous in Kona on a cruise from Monterey to the South Pacific, turned into a lifetime adventure on the western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island for the Dant family.
In 1969 Michael Dant built the Fair Wind catamaran, a 50-foot trimaran with a tri-colored striped sail, now Fair Wind’s trademark. He began sailing with wife Janet and a crew of nine from California to Hawaii in 1971.
Their South Pacific trip was cut short when in 1970 circumstances found the Dants with a damaged vessel. But, the Kona community pulled together in true "aloha" style, once leaving dinner and drinks as the hardworking crew fixed the boat, before the crew had a chance to say “thank you.” Acts of kindness such as these prompted the Dants to reconsider their journey, and they made Kona their home.
After a year of hard work, the Fair Wind business began with snorkel cruises to Kealakekua Bay. Soon after, dinner sails were drawing busloads of visitors to Fair Wind, the biggest boat in Kona at the time holding up to 50 people. Often the Fair Wind sailed three times a night to meet the demand of the tour groups.
In 1973, son Puhi arrived in Kona on vacation and found his heart and home aboard the Fair Wind. By 1974, Fair Wind began focusing on the snorkel cruise business. Puhi remembers with affection for what he refers to as “organized confusion” – impromptu inner tube races around the vessel, flying kites with long tails that trailed behind the boat, and sailing across the open sea.
Then in 1975, Fair Wind saw many changes. The vessel’s cabin was raised and a water slide was added for additional fun. The traditional main meal of tuna fish sandwich was replaced by the current menu, Fair Wind’s famous barbecue lunches of cheeseburgers and gardenburgers.
In 1983 Puhi and his wife Mendy purchased the Fair Wind business, and keeping in the tradition of his boat-building family, Puhi added a second vessel. The 50-foot trimaran, custom-designed to suit the needs of up to 100 snorkelers, divers and sightseers, was named the Ho’okele for their son, meaning "navigator" in Hawaiian. The Ho’okele began service on November 1, 1987. Unfortunately, tragedy struck on September 11, 1992. Large waves from Hurricane Iniki completely destroyed the Ho‘okele, smashing her on the rocks between Keauhou and He‘eia bays. Puhi and Mendy continued their service by leasing vessels for two years while a new Fair Wind was being built in Vancouver, Washington.
In 1994 the Fair Wind II started its run, continuing Fair Wind’s tradition of fun and superior service. The custom-built, 60-foot aluminum catamaran with covered deck, and the same trademark sail, two 15-foot water slides, high jump platform, on-board restrooms, freshwater showers, and a staircase descending directly into the water for easy water access.
By 2001, Fair Wind’s fleet had grown to include the Orca Raft Adventure and a custom-designed, 11 1/2-foot mini-vessel, the Fair Wind Tug. This fully operational vessel was a feature in numerous community parades and was later donated to a local school.
In 2005, Fair Wind sold the Orca Raft to make way for the company's new crown-jewel, the luxurious "Hula Kai". Catering to snorkel and dive enthusiasts, Hula Kai goes where others can't - speeding guests to exotic locations along the remote South Kona coast. This 55' hydrofoil catamaran is packed with many first-class amenities like individual theater-style seats with magnificent views. Hula Kai also has two fresh-water showers, two restrooms and a huge commercial grill used to prepare gourmet meals.