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What Are the Five Points of Sailing?

Our boat tour agency team is proud to operate the “Kai Kanani II,” the only commercial catamaran in South Maui. Catamarans are a type of sailing vessel that is much more spacious and, with a shallower draft, enable us to glide into shallower spaces compared to a monohull sailboat. Yet, while there are differences between a catamaran sailboat and a monohull sailboat, both still operate using the same sailing physics. This means that we get a lot of questions about sailing in general, including, “What are the five points of sailing?”

If you are looking to learn more about sailing in general, then the five points of sailing are fundamental questions to ask. The five points of sailing refer to the five different angles a sailboat can effectively sail relative to the direction the wind is blowing.

The easiest way to picture the five points of sailing is to think of a clock and imagine that the wind is blowing from the top of the clock, the 12 o’clock mark, down to the 6 o’clock mark. You cannot sail directly into the wind. Doing so puts the boat in what is called “in irons” as the sails will flap, unable to correctly use the wind as a foil due to the direction.

Once you change the boat’s angle about the wind, you start entering the five points of sail. Those five points of sailing are as follows:

  1. Close-hauled. This point of sail is when the boat is sailing as close to the wind as possible without falling into irons.
  2. Close reach. Close reaching is when the boat starts to bear away from the wind.
  3. Beam reach. Here, you are at a 90-degree angle from where the wind is blowing.
  4. Broad reach. This point of sail is the opposite of the close reach, but rather than using the wind across the front of the sail, the wind propels the boat from the back as the boat sails away from the wind.
  5. Running. Running is when the boat is directly opposite the wind’s direction and can be said to be sailing downwind.

Learn more about sailing by scheduling a boat tour on our catamaran, the gorgeous “Kai Kanani II.”

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Those who embrace snorkeling in Maui enjoy a fantastic experience that opens their eyes to some of the most beautiful undersea wonders. Before exploring the coral reefs and sparkling fish, it’s essential to be fully prepared for a safe snorkeling adventure. At Kai Kanani, we recommend planning your attire intentionally by selecting the best color to wear while snorkeling.

Why the Color You Wear Snorkeling Matters

Choosing a color to wear while snorkeling is not necessarily about what looks good or is trendy. You will likely be out on the ocean in a remote location under the guidance of a certified instructor. As a result, it’s important not to wear colors that blend into the deep blue waters and make it difficult to be seen. Therefore, avoiding navy blue, black, and other dark colors is generally good practice.

What Are the Best Colors to Wear When Snorkeling?

If you find the water cool and wear a wetsuit, you may have little choice regarding its color, as wetsuits are predominately black. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to accessorize with a bright snorkeling vest, making it easier for tour instructors to locate you. Whether you choose to wear a swimsuit or a snorkeling vest, these rank among the best colors to wear when snorkeling in terms of visibility:

  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Light Red or Pink
  • Bright Greens

If your go-to swimsuit is dark, adding a colorful floatation device creates a visual contrast that’s easy for your guide to identify. The best color to wear snorkeling isn’t the one that makes a fashion statement — it’s the one that keeps everyone safe and creates positive memories.

Booking a snorkeling excursion lets you discover the secret and wondrous world beneath the Maui waves. At Kai Kanani, we have 30 years of experience introducing people to the best spots for snorkeling. Let us show you the true beauty of Maui’s water by scheduling a snorkeling tour and leaving the rest to us!

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What Should I Look for When Whale Watching?

Whale watching is a relaxing, family-friendly activity that can create great memories for everyone. Here are some things you can look for that may indicate that whales are nearby:

Dorsal Fins

One of the telltale signs of a marine animal, including dolphins, sharks, orcas, and other whales, in your vicinity is the dorsal fin peeking out over the top of the water. Dorsal fins help make these animals more hydrodynamic, allowing them to quickly cut through the water to get to their prey.

When looking for dorsal fins, gaze off into the distance at horizon level to see if there are any large ripples or lines in the water. If there are, keep an eye out for a small triangle shape sticking out of the water. If the shape moves from point A to point B, you can be fairly confident that it belongs to an ocean mammal.


Other clear signs of a whale in the area are spouts or blows. Even though whales live in the ocean like fish, they breathe air like humans. But many whales only need to come up for air once every couple of hours. When they return to the surface to take another breath, they spout plumes of water out of their blowholes, which is often easy to spot from shore or a boat.

A blow can also help you identify the species of whale that it’s coming from. Sperm whales have forward-facing blows that are low to the water. Blue whale spouts are tall and ballooned at the top, while gray whales blow a distinct heart-shaped spout. Humpback whales, the most common in Waihee-Waiehu, need to breathe every 9 to 15 minutes, so they’re a great species to watch.

Tail Flukes

When a whale makes a deep dive, usually after taking a breath, you’ll usually see its tail fluke as it propels itself downward. A fluke is often all you can see of a whale before it submerges completely.
If you see a whale spout, keep an eye out for a tail fluke to follow shortly. You can also look for tail flukes when you see large shapes or ripples in the water from a whale swimming through the area.

Like the spout, a tail fluke can also help identify which kind of whale you’re looking at. For example, sperm whales have very flat, triangle-shaped fins without sharp points, while humpback whales have more curves in their tails and distinct tips.


Splashing is a clear indicator of animal activity in the area, but it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re looking at a whale, a dolphin, or even a large fish. Pay attention to the size of the splashes – smaller splashes likely belong to dolphins and fish. Look for large, long splashes indicating something very heavy moving around in the water.

You may even see a whale breach if you see a lot of splashing in the area that seems to be coming from a large animal. Whales breach for a variety of reasons, including to shake off parasites and barnacles that cause discomfort.

Whale watching in Waihee-Waiehu, HI, is an exciting experience. Sailing on your own private yacht can make it even better. Book your tour during whale season and when the weather is expected to be good.

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The best place to whale watch in Kihei is in our catamaran at sunset.

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Waihee-Waiehu, Hawaii

There’s no better way to go whale watching in Maui than with a private sailing tour in Waihee-Waiehu, HI. The words waihee waiehu translate to “by the water spray” in Hawaiian, which perfectly describes this lush natural landscape.

You’ll find miles of beaches lined with dense tropical vegetation, rushing waterfalls, crystal beaches, and rich indigenous culture here. With fewer than 10,000 permanent residents, Waihee-Waiehu is a great escape for vacationers who want to enjoy everything Maui offers in a more private setting.

Few places are better for whale watching than the Waihee-Waiehu area, especially when looking for humpbacks. While you can see whales from any Hawaiian beach, your chances of spotting one or even having a close encounter are much higher in Waihee-Waiehu.

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