This Customized Floating Home in Waikīkī is Probably Bigger Than Your Apartment

This custom boat may surprise you.
Photos: Rachel Ross 



Charlie Galento has lived at Ala Wai Harbor for 46 years. The past 22 of those years, he and his wife Jutta have lived aboard Kohola. At 2,000 square feet, the custom yacht feels more like a home than some condos we’ve seen lately. With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a galley, an office and 1,300 square feet of decking, if you were to pick it up and park it a quarter-mile up the road on hard ground in Waikīkī, it’d fetch well over a million dollars in our local real estate market.



Galento, a one-time professional big wave surfer who ran Greg Noll surfboards, now runs Royal Hawaiian Charters. Jutta is a physician, and was working away in a spacious home office during our visit. Galento built Kohola himself. It took four months to craft it out of steel, then another year and a half to get the interior just the way he wanted it. When he opens the door, located at the stern, the first things you see are framed photos lining the walls and white-washed oak floors. The upper level of the two-story boat is a spacious living-room/master bedroom. The lower level is the galley, den/library and another bedroom. The galley is better appointed and more spacious than many kitchens. The roof of the boat is the outside space—wide open with beautiful ocean and Waikīkī views.



It’s easy to forget you’re on a boat while aboard Kohola, but let’s be clear: It is no houseboat—it’s the real deal. It’s an ocean-faring boat with running lights, a horn and the chops to handle Hawai‘i’s waters. The Galentos take it out at least once a year. It’s also self-sustaining. Kohola is connected to the grid but is set up to capture solar and wind and does so well, the grid is rarely needed.


When asked about the challenges of living aboard a boat, Galento says he can’t remember living any other way, so he really has no reference point. Kohola was built to minimize the need for upkeep, so repair costs are minimal. The upside? There are many. In addition to a beautiful space to call home, it never takes long to get to the surf and the monthly slip fees for a live-aboard are around $700.


Don’t get your hopes up too high, though: Only 10 percent of boats in the harbor can be live-aboards, and a permit is required, greatly limiting those who get to experience this alternative to Honolulu city living.