One of the most frequently asked questions that we get from our customers is: "Could we arrange to swim with dolphins while we're in Hawaii?"
When asked this question we always give the same answer, which is: "Yes."
There are many ways that this can be done. You can guarantee that you will swim with dolphins if you want to go to Sea Life Park and swim in the dolphin tank. If you would like to swim with dolphins in the wild we have a few companies that offer dolphin tours (because it's in the wild, swimming with them is not guaranteed......but it happens on about 80% of the trips.
Today we opted to try our luck finding dolphins with a company called Dolphin Excursions that operates out of the Waianae Coastline on the western shore of Oahu. We've been working with them for years and I've always heard great things about them but until today, I never got to experience their trip first hand. The days experience did not disappoint. It turned out to be everything I thought it would be and more!!
We were picked up by the dolphin excursions van in front of the Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki. Our driver showed up early and when we arrived he was sitting in the front row of the empty bus strumming a tune on his Ukulele. As soon as he saw us he greeted us, welcomed us on-board, and then moved back to the drivers seat where he started the bus and began making his way to the next pick up point.
The rest of the pickups went very smoothy except for one group of young Japanese girls that took about 10 minutes longer then they should've to get on the bus (Some of them were still in their rooms getting ready when we arrived). However, because of the lighter then normal traffic on the way out to Waianae we ended up still making it to the harbor right on time.
As we got closer to the Waianae harbor it became obvious why it is not generally recommended for tourists to visit this side of the island unless they're with a guided tour. The town is extremely dilapidated and from just driving down the street and looking out the window it is very apparent that crime and homelessness are two major issues in the Waianae community.
When we stepped out of the bus our Captain was waiting for us at the top of the pier. She went over the basics of what our days itinerary was before inviting us down the pier and on to her large yellow speedboat that had "Dolphin Excursions" written in large letters down the sides.
As soon as we got out of the harbor our Captain punched the throttle and it became immediately apparent how fast the boat we were riding in really was! I was pretty convinced that with this much speed at our disposal we stood a great chance of finding dolphins. Sure enough, I was right and we spotted our first group of dolphins less then 10 minutes after we initially left the harbor.
It was amazing how comfortable the dolphins were around the boat. Our Captain decided that the first group we saw was moving too fast to do a water drop so after we had plenty of time to get some pictures of them jumping and playing around the boat we continued down the coastline to look for more. Within about another 5 minutes we spotted a pod that was even larger then the first, that seemed to be moving down the coast too, but at a much slower rate then the first pod we encountered. This one seemed perfect for a drop, our Captain got everyone ready to jump in along the back of the boat, then maneuvered the boat in front of the dolphins, cut the engines and yelled for us to "Go, go, go!!!!"
Within 30 seconds of entering the water we were literally surrounded by dolphins. Some were deeper in the water towards the bottom, and some were only a foot or two under the service literally making eye contact with me as they swam past...... It was absolutely incredible!
As soon as the dolphins had passed us we jumped back on the boat and maneuvered the boat back in front of the dolphins to do it again. By the time we made it back to the harbor we had swam with dolphins on three separate occasions and then also got to do a snorkel spot along the shore on the way back where we got to swim with some turtles.
At the end of the day when we got back to the harbor I was absolutely amazed at the mornings experience. As I got off the boat, I asked the first mate how often the trips are like this. He looked at me straight in the eye and with no hesitation said "About 80 to 85, percent of the time. It's amazingly consistent."........ No wonder we get so much good feedback about these guys, it was a truly amazing experience!
The morning we went on the Body Glove I woke up and looked out the window and was delighted to see that there was not a breath of wind in the sky and the ocean was completely calm...... Perfect weather for snorkeling!
This morning we checked in for our days snorkel excursion down at boat ramp at Keauhou Bay, which is located on the southern end of Kona Town. As we pulled into the parking lot we could see the large blue shape of the Fair Wind II tied up to the pier.
There are few places on earth that have a landscape as diverse as the one you will find on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island contains almost every kind of climate zone on earth (11 of the 13 to be precise).
Today we went out on a smaller sized sailing catamaran named the "Kamanu". We met the boat down at Honokohau Harbor to check in for the trip. As I entered their office I noticed some amazing pictures of Manta Rays on the walls that the receptionist told me were taken on the evening "Manta" snorkel, I was impressed.
After spending most of the day down in Kona snorkeling we had worked up quite an appetite. During the drive up to Waikoloa all I could think about was the huge luau buffet that was waiting for us once we got there.
The Navatek is not your normal boat. When it was built (and in many ways even to this day) it stood on the absolute pinnacle of maritime technology. It is a SWATH style vessel which is a design that is essentially a cross between a hydrofoil and a catamaran.
When we pulled into the parking lot at the Keauhou Bay we could immediately see that the day's ocean conditions were absolutely perfect for kayaking. We selected our two person kayak from a group of kayaks that were lined up on the shore.
Snorkeling is the most popular vacation activity in Hawaii. We offer snorkel trips from sailboats, large powerboats and even small zodiac rafts. We've got blog articles about our trips aboard all types of boats on all the major islands and if you're thinking about doing a snorkeling excursion during your stay we encourage you to check out our blog articles and videos to get a better idea of what our trips are like.
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