Waikīkī’s Lady in the Water

Vida Mia

From hosting fashion icons to celebrity royalty, the Vida Mia is one classy luxury yacht that’s always ready to cruise.

Text by Marc Graser
Images courtesy of Vida Mia

For any visitor to Honolulu, seeing the skyline of Waikīkī or majestic Diamond Head from the water is a vantage few get to appreciate unless you surf or strap yourself to a parasail.

There’s a more relaxing option to take in the scenery, however — one that even comes with cocktails or coffee, depending on the time of day. Beaming in white with lovingly restored teak wood throughout, the Vida Mia is a stunning 61-foot yacht that’s enjoyed the spotlight since 1929.

Over the years, it’s been chartered by some impressive guests, including Elizabeth Taylor and Louis Vuitton. More recently, it’s been prominently featured on HBO’s “White Lotus.”

Aerial view of Vida Mia

As Hawaii’s only commercial wooden luxury yacht, the vessel has provided tourists and locals with an elevated option to cruise Honolulu and explore the Hawaii islands, while providing a little taste of local culture at the same time.

Throughout the week, the Vida Mia hosts regular sunrise coffee to sunset cocktail cruises, brunches and events with live local music performed on deck that can be purchased as well-priced packages.

Individual charters are also available for three-hour swim and snorkeling trips or for celebrations, weddings and funerals. It’s certified to cruise with up to 36 passengers.

Down below, the yacht’s surprisingly sizable living space, includes a galley kitchen, bathrooms and two staterooms that can sleep six, great for overnight charters.

We recommend to start the day with the morning coffee cruise, which the Vida Mia offers through a partnership with the Honolulu Coffee Co., complete with Kona coffee, fresh pastries and sunrise views.

For the non early riser, there’s House Slippers, featuring an open bar and soulful house music spun by DJ My Friend George on the first Sunday of every month. What could easily be a private plaything is a gem for everyone to enjoy.

“What brings me the most joy is seeing a guest’s reaction when they walk into the salon for the first time,” says Vida Mia owner Brynn Rovito. “A 10 year old child has the same reaction as someone in their ‘80s. They don’t expect it to be so beautiful.”

“A 10 year old child has the same reaction as someone in their ‘80s. They don’t expect it to be so beautiful.”

Vida Mia owner Brynn Rovito
My Friend George Vida Mia
DJ My Friend George turns up the house music on the first Sunday of each month on board the Vida Mia.


She almost didn’t end up that way.

Built in Sacramento, the Vida Mia was originally a commuter vessel for wealthy businessmen, and was commandeered during World War II by the United States Coast Guard, painted gray and given a mission to patrol San Francisco Bay for enemy submarines.

She arrived in Hawaii in 1961, and was often seen in Maui, but neglected over the years, beaten down by the uncompromising sun and left for years in disrepair.

Its splintered wood, wood-rot-eaten hull and decaying interiors have since been revived to its glorious past. It’s fitting that Vida Mia means “my life” in Spanish, because Rovito has certainly extended it and is happy to share this vintage beauty with the rest of the world.

“I love her lines as she cruises by, her overall aesthetic,” Rovito says. “I love that she lived through so many different eras and survived so many catastrophes. Everyone thinks it’s so neat. I love being the person to show them that.”

To book your own experience, please visit The Vida Mia.