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Travel Blog #105 - Dolphin watching with Captain Zodiac

We met up with Captain Zodiac office at their office, located on edge of the Honokohau Harbor about ten minutes north of Kona. When I showed up the people at the office greeted me and then directed me where to meet up with the boat. I followed their directions and found the boat in a slip near the boat ramp (about 75 yards away from the office). The boat was a black inflatable surround speedboat, the captain was making some last minute adjustments and I was the first passenger to show up.

After I boarded the boat the captain took some time to talk with me about some specifics of the trip. The plan was to leave the Honokohau and head south towards the Kealakekua Bay Marine Preserve. He explained that it is very common to run into pods of dolphins on the way to the preserve. As the rest of the passengers made their way to the boat I stowed my gear and made my final preparations to get ready for the days filming.

As soon as we made our way out of the harbor the Captain was able to demonstrate the power of his twin outboards as we smoothy accelerated and made some big s-turns on the smooth glassy waters of the Kona coastline. Smiles stretched across everyones faces as we all held on and enjoyed the ride. As soon as the captain got the boat up to speed we began to rapidly make our way down the coastline. We had the throttle pinned until we encountered our first pod of dolphins in the waters offshore of Kona town.

"Look at the pod of Spinner Dolphins right by the buoy!"

The Captain said as he pointed to the waters in front of us. We spotted the fins initially right by the buoy offshore of the Kona Pier. When we got closer they had made their way further South. The entire group was made up of Spinner Dolphins, they were collected into a pod that numbered in the hundreds. The group came up right next to the boat and we could see how many babies they had traveling with them. I've seen pods of dolphins that had babies in them before, but I have never seen as many baby dolphins as I did today. We even had a pair of fully grown dolphins with a baby dolphin in between them jump out of the water right next to us, it was quite an encounter.

As we made our way towards the bay I was pleased to see a plethora of sea caves and blowholes dotting the rocky coastline along the way. When we rounded the final bend and the monument came into view it was apparent that our speedy vessel had beaten the other, larger boats that also visit the area.

As soon as the boat came to a stop I had my snorkel gear ready and jumped off of the side to see what I could find. There was all kinds of marine life to see. Large schools of smaller fish, big pelagic fish and a variety of colorful corals made up the the majority of what I saw. I was most impressed with a large Omilu that I saw (a variety of Jack), these fish are hunted so heavily that they are rarely seen in coastal waters. Normally the ones I do see are rather skittish and tend to keep their distance. The one that I encountered inside the preserve seemed to know that I was not hunting it because it came right up to me. Not only did it come close, it then proceeded to swim circles around me for about a minute. This is something that is rare to see.

Another thing that I really liked about the diving in Kealakekua (expedia Star Destination) is the places towards the inside of the bay where vents from the underground freshwater streams that flow down the mountain empty into the ocean. The freshwater appears hazy compared to the salt water and it does not mix together right away so if you look closely you can see large columns of blurry water coming up from the bottom, as you swim through them you'll notice that the fresh water is much cooler then the salt water that surrounds it.

After we were done snorkeling we made our way back to the boat. Once everyone got back on, we left the bay and began our journey home. The Captain took us on along the "scenic" route on the way home. He took advantage of the flat ocean conditions and stayed very close to the cliffs along the way. We were able to maneuver inside some sea caves, and right next to some blowholes. The Captain was well versed in the history of the area and shared some great stories with us along the way.

There's nothing like the thrill you get from riding in a high performance vehicle. Weather it's a car, a plane or a boat, if you put enough horsepower inside of it and have enough open space, you're bound to have a good time. After talking with some of the other people on the trip I think that the fast ride of the boat was one of peoples favorite parts of the tour. I think it was hard to choose, between the giant pod of baby dolphins, the snorkeling at the bay, the sea caves on the way back and the fast ride on the boat I think it all added up to a good time. Diving in the smooth waters of south Kona was my favorite part of the day, the snorkeling here is truly world class and to get to experience it first hand is always a treat.

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