Holo Holo in the hunt

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Guests on the Holo Holo Charter Niihau + Napali Super Tour take in Kauai’s Napali Coast.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    See the Napali Coast from the channel on Holo Holo Charter’s Niihau + Napali Super Tour.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Guests on the Holo Holo Charter Niihau + Napali Super Tour watch spinner dolphins surf the bow of the boat, a common occurrence during the company’s boat tours.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Views of Kauai’s breathtaking coastline are plentiful on Holo Holo Charter’s Niihau + Napali Super Tour.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Guests on the Holo Holo Charter Niihau + Napali Super Tour check out the keyhole at Lehua Islet.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Jessica Rickard, Holo Holo Charter crewmember and marine biologist, shows guests baby frogfish that were saved from some marine debris the crew picked up from the ocean during their Niihau + Napali Super Tour.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Jessica Rickard, Holo Holo Charter crewmember and marine biologist, explains the traits of spinner dolphins to guests on the company’s Niihau + Napali Super Tour.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    A boat tour with Holo Holo Charter means the chance to see spinner and bottlenose dolphins and other marine life and their multiple tours feature things like snorkling at places like Lehua Islet, sunset cocktails on their sailboat, and views of the Napali Coastline.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Snorkelers check out the reef outside of Lehua Islet under the watchful eye of Kamalie Kapanui and the other Holo Holo Charter crew on their Niihau + Napali Super Tour.

Kauai’s Holo Holo Charters is in the running for national recognition on the 2019 USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice list, and it’ll be your votes that’ll help them cinch the title.

There’s not much time. Anyone can vote multiple times — once daily. The contest ends Monday, May 20 at noon.

The Reader’s Choice contest has been running since June 2014. Every other week a contest starts in a variety of categories and 20 businesses are listed for public voting. Voting continues for 28 days while companies vie for positions on the list. At the end, the top 10 are awarded a badge of recognition.

Holo Holo Charters has been climbing the ranks during the Best Boat Company in the U.S. section of the competition and now sits comfortably in the Top 10 at number 6.

On a recent cruise through the 17-mile wide Kaulakahi Channel on Holo Holo’s Niihau + Napali Super Tour, crewmembers said they’ve been voting daily — and encouraging others to do so, too.

“One of the best companies I’ve ever worked for,” said crewmember Kamalie Kapanui as the boat carried about 25 people along the sheer cliffs of the Napali Coast, under waterfalls and across the channel to visit the island of Niihau and to snorkel in the shadow of Lehua Islet.

That specific tour left the harbor about 7 a.m. with coffee and a breakfast of fruit and scones. The sun chased away the clouds as the boat cruised along the Napali Coast, slowing for photos of the iconic places like Cathedrals and Kalalau.

Spinner dolphins surfed the bow multiple times along the coastline and across channel, where a pod was cruising along Lehua Islet. Bottlenose dolphins even made an appearance while they were hunting for breakfast.

Between Lehua and Niihau, the sea was calm and a vibrant blue. Seabirds flew overhead, avoiding the frigate birds whose practice is to rob food from others instead of catching it themselves. Monk seals sunned themselves on Lehua’s shore.

Snorkeling’s involved in many of Holo Holo’s tours, and the Niihau + Napali Super Tour boasts the unique chance to visit the sealife by The Forbidden Island and Lehua Islet.

Guests jumped in the water and immediately saw a small reef shark swimming along a steep, undersea cliff among coral. Schools of brightly colored fish darted through sunlight filtering through the ocean.

The bar opens directly after snorkeling on all of Holo Holo’s tours, adding a little something extra to the trip across the channel or to the glorious sunsets that grace the Pacific nightly.

On the way back to Kauai, the boat stopped mid-channel, causing curiosity among the passengers. The reason — marine debris.

Kapanui and fellow crewmember Jessica Rickard fished a heavy rope out of the water, Kapanui tossing it into a plastic bag for disposal while Rickard saved a few baby frogfish that were clinging to it.

“It’s got a little ecosystem on it,” she said as the pair pulled the rope out of the water.

Rickard, with her background in marine biology, showed passengers the fish and explained about the species, and the impact things like nets, rope and plastic have on the ocean.

Texas passenger and Steve Uzzel said he’s been on several boat tours throughout his travels, and was impressed with Holo Holo Charters.

“I’d vote them number one for sure,” said he said as the boat sailed back into Port Allen.

Currently, the number one spot on the 10 Best list is Manhattan’s NYCbySEA, which offers six-passenger powerboat excursions and includes views of the New York Harbor, Hudson River, East River and Battery Park.

NYCbySEA is followed by Major Marine Tours out of Alaska, Waco Tours in Texas, Niagra Jet Adventures in New York, and Red Boat Water Tours in Florida currently sitting at number 5.

To vote: bit.ly/2VxJv3T

•••

Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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