If you'd like to see wild dolphins and swim with them in the open ocean, then the Big Island is the place for you
|Dolphin Excursions on Hawaii|
|Adventure X Rafting - Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Tour|
|Blue Sea Cruises - Watching Dolphins Swimming in Hawaii|
|Body Glove - Watching Dolphins Swimming in Hawaii|
|Captain Zodiac - 24 Foot Inflatable Zodiac Raft|
|Dolphin Discoveries - Watching Dolphins Swimming in Hawaii|
|Kamanu Charters - Watching Dolphins Swimming in Hawaii|
|Kona Sea Sports - Shogun is a Cabo 35' fishing boat|
|Ocean Safari - Watching Dolphins Swimming in Hawaii|
|Sea Wolf Charters on Hawaii - 33' Raft - RIGID With Shade Canopy|
|Splashers Ocean Adventures - 30' RIGID Hull Inflatable Raft|
|Sunlight On Water - Snorkeling Tours|
Big Island of Hawaii Dolphin Tours
The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the rare places in Hawaii where you can swim in the ocean with wild dolphins.
Swimming with dolphins in the open ocean is often an island visitor's "fantasy". With the possible exception of swimming with dolphins off the Waianae Coast of Oahu, the Big Island is truly the only place that your dolphin fantasy can be realized in the islands.
It is remarkable how many days out of the year we can actually not only find the dolphins off the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii but actually swim with them as well. It is for this reason that dolphin watches and dolphin excursions which offer dolphin viewing, swimming with dolphins and information about dolphins in general are very popular on the Big Island.
Known for their inshore habits, playfulness around vessels and star performances at aquariums, bottlenose dolphins are probably the most popular of all cetacean species.
- Adult Bottlenose Dolphins in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii range in size from seven to eleven feet in length and weigh between 600 and 850 pounds. Their backs are medium gray, their sides are lighter gray and their bellies are white or pink. Offshore animals are darker in color than those found inshore and sometimes appear to be less interested in swimming along with boats. A few thousand Bottlenose Dolphins are believed to inhabit the waters around Hawaii, usually living in groups of two to fifteen individuals. Most of these groups are permanent residents of certain coastlines and harbors, and are therefore easy to spot.
Spinner Dolphins are the smallest of the Big Island of Hawaii's common dolphins.
- The Spinner Dolphins are generally between five and six feet in length and weigh 130 to 200 pounds. Hawaii has its own subspecies that is easy to recognize by its distinctive "three-tone" color pattern which consists of a sharply defined dark gray "cape" on their backs, a stripe of lighter gray on their sides and a white or pink belly.
- This species gets its name from its spectacular habit of leaping high into the air and spinning several times on their tails before falling back into the water. Researchers are not sure why the dolphins spin, but most people who have had the opportunity to watch these Big Island dolphins don't seem to mind, and find it a real treat.
- Around Hawaii, spinner dolphins congregate at night in large herds in the deep channels between the islands to feed. During the day, they break up into smaller groups and come near shore to rest and play. A particular place the dolphins of the Big Island can often be seen is Kealake'akua Bay however dolphins can frequent the entire Kona Coast as well. The life cycle of dolphins is similar to that of other cetaceans. As mammals, dolphins bear live young and the mothers nurse them on milk and provide care. A dolphin calf is born tail-first with eyes open, senses alert and enough muscular coordination to follow its mother immediately. At birth, the mother helps her calf to the surface to get its first breath. While nursing lasts between one and a half to two years, the mother will remain with her calf for a period between three and eight years. There is some variation in the age at which sexual maturity is reached, the reproduction rate and the life expectancy among the different species of dolphins. Most species tend to bear one calf every other year or so during their reproductively active years and are believed to have an average life expectancy of about thirty years.
The Hawaiian name for dolphin is Nai'a, and refers to all species of dolphins found in Hawaiian waters. Four species of dolphins are regularly found in the waters around the Big Island of Hawaii. They are the Pacific bottlenose dolphin, the Rough-toothed dolphin, the Spotted dolphin and the Spinner dolphin. Other dolphin species have been known to pass through the islands but are relatively rare. The two most popular species of dolphins located in Hawaiian waters are the bottlenose dolphins and the spinner dolphins.
As anyone who has had the opportunity to watch dolphins perform in a show can attest, dolphins have an impressive ability to learn and imitate behaviors, often for what appears the sheer pleasure of doing so. This observation, together with their large brain size, has led to numerous studies of dolphin intelligence. Dolphins' brains are about the size of our own.
Tom's Tips - Big Island of Hawaii Dolphin Tours
- Dolphins can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii coastline all year round.
- Actually swimming in the open ocean with dolphins is an art that is taught by the captains who will take you to the dolphins. A great respect and reverence for the dolphins is required by all guests and by following the protocol provided by your captain you will maximize the experience of your dolphin encounter.
- If you have children, swimming with wild dolphins is an experience you won't want to miss!
Adventure X Rafting specializes in whale watching and searching for wild dolphins. Malaialena offers a vacuflush toilet with standing head room / changing room. She has fresh water rinse on deck. Lot's of seating, about 60% under shade. There are two crew members onboard besides the captain to serve you. We look forward to sharing with you all the magical moments and miracles that bless us everyday.
(From: $121.90 - To: $121.90)
Dolphin watching on the Kona coast of the Big Island is very popular and a great boat to view them from is from Blue Sea Cruises. Blue Sea Cruises will provide naturalists on board to enhance your experience through expert information regarding these fabulous and fun loving dolphins. Tours are two-hours and fifteen minutes long and are taken aboard the Spirit of Kona which a seventy-foot double deck power catamaran with two large glass bottom viewing ports which was designed for the waters surrounding Kona. The dolphins most frequently seen from these cruises are the Bottle Nose Dolphin and the Spinner Dolphin and whales are also visible in season (December through May). The Blue Sea Cruises also offers food and cocktails on their dolphin excursions for an additional charge.
(From: $84.90 - To: $84.90)
Dolphins are a main attraction on most of the tours offered by Body Glove off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The oceans surrounding the Big Island are literally teeming with marine life. Some of the best fishing in the world can happen there as a result and the same can be said about the numbers of dolphins that can be seen in these waters. There are a number of different varieties of dolphin that can be seen off the coast there including the Rough-Toothed Dolphin and the Spotted Dolphin but by far the most often seen on the tours offered by the Body Glove are the Bottle Nose Dolphin and the Spinner Dolphin. The Bottlenose Dolphin are by far the largest, weighing in often at seven-hundred-and-fifty pounds and extending ten feet in length. The much smaller Spinner Dolphins are often about one-hundred-and-fifty pounds and about five feet in length. They are famous for their custom of jumping high out of the water, spinning in the air and then crashing back down to the ocean surface and are quite fun to watch. Both of these types of dolphin can be seen by the Body Glove off the Kona coastline because of the deep water channel located near shore providing them with an abundance of food which they typically catch in the deep water during the night-time hours.
(From: $98.90 - To: $120.90)
Zodiac boats are often the first choice of boats for marine biologists trying to learn about and study the habits of dolphins and thus there is no doubt why tours that see dolphins are an excellent choice aboard Captain Zodiac. One of the most popular locations for spotting dolphins on the Big Island of Hawaii is at Kealakekua Bay's National Marine Reserve, and this is a location that Captain Zodiac goes on its Four Hour Rafting Expedition. Dolphins are regularly seen on these trips as are many other marine creatures and the speed and manoeuvrability of the zodiacs make them among the most exciting to ride on.
(From: $93.90 - To: $105.90)
Dolphin tours in the ocean off the coast of the Big Island are among the most popular and educational of tours available to Hawaii visitors and one of the most personalized dolphins tours to go out with would be the tours offered by Dolphin Discoveries. Dolphin Discoveries offers small groups the opportunity to see the dolphins but in many cases even swim with them as well. Several tours are offered in which you can cruise the beautiful Kona Coastline of the Big Island down to Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook's Monument to enjoy some of the island's best snorkeling. These tours almost always will offer you views of the dolphins as they often enjoy racing the boat on the way down to the snorkel location. Perhaps the most exciting of the tours offered however are the ones that actually get you in the water with dolphins. Dolphins are very curious and very playful and if they choose (at their discretion) to come over to you and play a bit (and this happens quite a bit of the time) you will have a day out with the dolphins that you won't soon forget.
(From: $74.90 - To: $123.90)
One of the real pluses of taking a trip with the sailing catamaran Kamanu off the coast of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is the dolphin viewing. Dolphins are a constant feature along the Kona Coastline year-round and they are seen regularly by Kamanu. There are so many dolphins seen off this coastline in fact that this has been the sight of the longest running study of spinner dolphins in the world. This research has been going on since the late sixties and has been responsible for much of the current understanding of these remarkable creatures. The captain and crew of the Kamanu will probably share with you much of their own personal observations of the dolphins which when viewed over time present one of the most interesting stories of any species on the planet. It is known that they hang out during the day time in the shallow waters off the Kona Coast to rest and to play and in the evening hours they head out to sea and to deeper water to feed on the plentiful almost cloud like layers of fish, squid and shrimp. One of the most unusual behaviors you will probably witness on the Kamanu is the aerial behavior of the spinner dolphins as they are unbelievably acrobatic. Though the exact reasoning behind their spins is not altogether understood their spins, flips, combination spinning flips and high leaps are certain to be an exciting part of your day of observation.
(From: $55.00 - To: $128.90)
Kona Sea Sports is a unique company in that it offers private charters for families to combine snorkeling, a dolphin swim or whale watching with sportfishing. Shogun is a Cabo 35' fishing boat that offers comfortable bridge and cockpit seating, a salon with A/C, a full galley, a marine head and 2 staterooms.
(From: $175.90 - To: $1,187.90)
Viewing dolphins from the vantage point of a kayak and be one of the great highlights of your Big Island of Hawaii holiday and this viewing of dolphins is an event that is often experienced with Ocean Safari Kayak Adventures. Riding kayaks on the ocean is by its very nature "ocean intensive", as you are sitting right on the surface level of the water, and to see dolphins from this close proximity is fantastic. As often happens with Ocean Safari Kayak Adventures, if you're lucky, dolphins will come up to you for a closer look which is even more exciting, and don't forget that dolphins usually are found in pods which can be enormous in size so your dolphin experience can easily increase in excitement exponentially.
(From: $32.90 - To: $59.90)
On Sea Wolf Charters you may have an opportunity to swim with the dolphins off the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Sea Wolf offers two hour tours that include snorkeling and combine viewing the reefs and plentiful tropical fish and sea turtles with swimming with the dolphins when they can be found. These tours take small groups of people to a maximum of fifteen and include the use of a kayak at the snorkel site. Departure is from Honokohau small boat harbor.
(From: $99.00 - To: $160.00)
Known for being "the most fun ever" the captain and crew of Splashers offers wonderful dolphin encounters, night manta ray snorkeling and whale watching in season. Did you know, that on the Kona Coast, Hawaii, spinner dolphins are seen almost daily. They do not like being pursued but they they are fascinatingly curious and love to show off.
(From: $85.00 - To: $85.00)
Sunlight On Water may seem like an unusual name for a boat company that specializes in swimming with dolphins on the Big Island of Hawaii but that just may be because Sunlight On Water is perhaps one of the most unusual ocean touring companies you will ever have the pleasure of going out with. Melainah and Michael Yee are the owners and operators of this company and they have operated this tour longer than any other dolphin swim eco-tour operator in Hawaii. They know how to find the wild dolphins (ninety-eight percent of the time) and they know how to approach the dolphins when getting into the water to swim with them. For Michael and Melainah it is all about respect. Respect for the dolphins, the marine life in general and respect for the ocean. There is a certain protocol you will learn, a certain way to act and to react with the dolphins as you enter their world. Be aware! This experience may change you as it has for countless others who have swam with these dolphins in the past. These could be described as "sacred moments". Certainly the moments spent swimming with these most intelligent of marine mammals with Sunlight On Water will add for many of you that special notch on your lifetime "bucket list" of things to do.
(From: $71.90 - To: $171.90)
Big Island of Hawaii Dolphin Excursions - The Kona coast of the Big Island may be the very best place on the planet to view dolphins in the wild. It is in fact the site of the longest running study of spinner dolphins in the world and one of the longest running studies of any dolphin species, spanning over 30 years. The population of spinner dolphins alone is over 2000 individuals and off the Kona coast you can often see schools of 40 to 80 animals spinning, flipping and leaping high into the air.