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How Long is a Boat Ride From California to Hawaii?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

How Long is a Boat Ride From California to Hawaii

Traveling from California to Hawaii by boat can be a captivating experience to share with friends and family, but how long is a boat ride from California to Hawaii?

Generally, the boat trip may take up to 21 to 24 days with casual boat rides, whereas faster ones only need approximately 6 days. The fastest boat can reduce the time to only more than 4 days!

If you plan to sail from California to Hawaii, do not miss out on today’s article!

Sailing Time From California to Hawaii

1. Average Travel Time


The average boat time ranges from 1 week to 3 weeks at most. There is quite a difference in time between single-handedly sailing a boat vs. going with an experienced crew.

Nonetheless, having an accurate understanding of the time length needed helps you get well-prepared. Be ready to stock up on essential supplies like food, water, and medical aids.

2. Distance


The distance from Cali to Hawaii is approximately 2148 nautical miles (2400 miles). It’s likely that you’d have to deal with storms, big waves, and even other ferries when traversing from Cali to Hawaii.

Is it dangerous? Yes! But is it worth the experience? Absolutely, but only if you have a lot of experience with navigating a boat; it is also mandatory to be prepared for problems like boat leaks, engine failures, etc.

3. Popular Boat Routes


  • Great Circle – The great circle (or direct route) allows you to finish the trip in just 5-10 days; however, you will face strong easterlies, which are the make-or-break factor to shorten the trip.

Trade winds are very dependable, provided you know how to use them. Besides the experience, you also need a well-equipped sailboat that can handle these nullifying winds.

They can be very agitating, blowing in northeast and east-northeast directions. Consequently, taking a one-way boat voyage is advisable instead of a round-trip.

  • Southern Route – The southern route is the main route to sail to Hawaii as it’s much safer and more straightforward.

With the southern route, you must follow the coastline south at 35°N-25°N before turning west. Though the longitude may vary depending on the time of the year, it’s always 35°N at the least.

The idea of making this ‘turn’ instead of taking a boat to Hawaii in a straight line is to avoid the strong currents and countervailing winds of the North Pacific High, which are the contributing reasons to slow down your trip significantly.

Let’s look at the map of California to Hawaii in the picture below.

  • Transpacific Yacht Race – This route is an exception for those who are eager to make the trip more adventurous. Only experienced and sea-savvy boaters should consider taking the Transpacific Yacht Race. This biennial race sets off in San Pedro, California, and finishes in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Factors Affecting Boat Ride Duration

Generally, the sail time of a boat to Hawaii from California varies depending on various factors, including the route, speed, types of boats, stopping points, etc.

1. Route Taken


As mentioned above, there are several routes to sail to Hawaii, and the duration of each also varies. Some routes may appear to be longer but fitted with better weather conditions, whereas others are somewhat shorter but call for more navigating and experience.

2. Weather Conditions


The weather in the Pacific Ocean is feasible to change; you can expect high winds and currents with unpredictable storms, especially in the late spring and early summer months.

It’s best to avoid sailing during these times; instead, traveling during the summer months is likely ideal as the weather is more balmy and mild.

3. Type of Boats


Some boats are designed for speed, whereas others aim for stability. Generally speaking, boats with larger keels are harder to navigate, but they provide a higher average speed than smaller keels. Besides, a difference in size can contribute greatly to the overall time to sail.

4. Speed


The time difference between wanting to get to Hawaii as fast as possible vs. making multiple stopping points can be remarkable. Besides this reason, the hull, engine power, and overall weight can be the determining factors to decide the boat’s speed.

Technically, catamarans are faster than monohulls thanks to their hydrodynamic-aid design that allows the vessel to get on the plane more easily. Additionally, motor boats can sail faster than wind-generated boats.


How long is a boat ride from California to Hawaii? Expect to be at sea for 4-14 days if you’re going by a cruise ship or ferry. Of course, it depends on several factors to determine the time, including the route taken, weather, and type of boat.

Regardless of what you choose, be mentally and physically prepared for the long journey ahead. It’s understandable to just book a plane ticket instead of sailing Seattle to Hawaii, but you’ll be sleeping on the picturesque scenery of the Pacific High!

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