The solar- and battery-powered catamaran, which offers dolphin and snorkeling excursions, is the first of its kind in the country.

By Marisa Spyker
March 14, 2019
Courtesy of Honest Eco

Between moves to eliminate waste and support sustainable businesses, travelers in 2019 seem to be seeking more ways to reduce their environmental footprint on vacation. The latest development? A new charter boat in Key West that’s making serious waves—but not the kind that cause a wake.

Honest Eco, a tour company that focuses on sustainable kayak, snorkeling, and dolphin excursions, recently added a new boat to its fleet that’s being billed as the country’s first near-coastal electric tour boat with a close-to-zero environmental impact. Powered by BMW-engineered lithium ion batteries that get their juice via solar panels, the 35-foot custom-built catamaran runs with a virtually silent motor and a hull that’s narrow enough to produce barely any wake (which can disturb marine life).

Courtesy of Honest Eco

For the boating industry, which has struggled to reduce negative impacts on the ocean caused by things like engine noise and water pollution, the new tour boat could be a game-changer. Lightweight materials and innovative engineering set the catamaran, dubbed The Squid, apart from most charter vessels in the region and across the country. And while electric motors with diesel generators have powered boats in the past, running them on lithium ion batteries (what most electric cars use, including Tesla) is especially unique.

“Lithium ion batteries is the real thing. This is the true hybrid,” Honest Eco owner Billy Litmer told the Miami Herald.

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The Squid, which holds up to 22 passengers and weighs less than two Ford F150 pickup trucks, is currently open for reservations on its twice daily dolphin watch and snorkeling trips. The four-hour excursions cost $97 per person and, as the website says, are “designed specifically for giving our guests the best wildlife experience possible…while having the least possible impact on the environment.

“Anything we can do to mitigate our impact, we have to do our best,” says Litmer.