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Dolphin Excursions on "The Big Island" of Hawaii

See All Activities See All Activities By Vendor The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the rare places in Hawaii where you can swim in the ocean with wild dolphins.

There are 30 tours in this category that range in price from $69.90 to $1200.00.

Dolphin Excursions

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 Hawaiian 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 Kealakekua 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.


Pride of America Cruise Ship: Big Island of Hawaii Dolphin Swim Tours do not pick up at the Cruise Ship Dock. The majority of these dolphin swims however can be reached by a short taxi ride from the dock. These would be available to you on Wednesday morning from the port of Kona.

Look for this symbol in the tour descriptions below to indicate if it is Pride of America compatible.

Dolphin Excursions Sorted by Specific Tour


We sell tickets to 30 items in the category Dolphin Excursions on "The Big Island" of Hawaii.

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Displaying 30 of 30 Results

$129.90

This trip is for guests looking to experience more of Hawaii's history and natural beauty. The captain and crew are equipped to answer your questions and love sharing the history and legends of the…

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$89.90

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This Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook Monument raft snorkel tour offers calm waters, remarkable snorkeling and brightly colored tropical fish and coral gardens are the feature most commonly enjoyed here.…

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$79.90 - $118.90
(4 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Travel south 10 miles, to the best snorkel spot of the day with Body Glove. Snorkel locations are weather dependent and can include Fantasy Reef, Red Hill, Turtle Heaven or Dolphin Cove. You will have…

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$114.90

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(16 Reviews, 4.8 Stars)

Enjoy a 3 hour cruise and set sail to Captain Cook's Monument on Kona's only historical dinner cruise to Kealakekua Bay. This narrative cruise to Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook's Monument…

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$96.90
(4 Reviews, 4.8 Stars)

Explore the Big Island's Kona Coast on a 24' Zodiac Inflatable raft. Sights will include sea caves and grottos, dolphins, manta rays and turtles. Stop to snorkel at Captain Cooks Monument in Kealakekua…

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$108.90
(2 Reviews, 4 Stars)

Explore the Big Island's Kona coast on a 24 foot zodiac inflatable boat. Sights will include sea caves and grottos, dolphins, manta rays and turtles. Stop to snorkel at the famous Captain Cook Monument…

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$92.90
(1 Review, 5 Stars)

If swimming with the dolphins is your specific goal and dream then come explore the Big Island's Kona coast on a 24 foot zodiac inflatable boat. This is the main focus of this 3 hour tour. Sights will…

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$114.90
(2 Reviews, 4.5 Stars)

Beat the crowds down to Capt. Cooks Monument, Kealakekua Bay and snorkel the pristine marine sanctuary at it's finest, without the crowds. Discover both the historical significance of the bay as well as…

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$89.90
(2 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Three hour adventures cruise to explore the historic Kona Coast, sea caves and lava tubes en route to Kealakekua Bay. Guests will snorkel at this premier marine sanctuary viewing many species of fish,…

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$128.90

This adventure is focused on finding the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and/or Spotted Dolphins and spending quality time with them. You will get to interact with the dolphins while learning about them and…

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$143.90

Dolphin Discoveries is very excited to bring you a super 5 hour ocean expedition tour focusing on Kona's best snorkel sites, shoreline exploration and wildlife encounters! You will have plenty of time…

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$88.90

Save 10.2%
(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the Kona Coast. This fast paced adventure aboard a brand new custom built 37' catamaran provides spectacular views with up close encounters with dolphins…

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$124.90

Cruise the beautiful Kona Coast in search of the Spinner Dolphins that will entertain you as they launch themselves out of the water into the air doing thrilling spins and flips. Your swim guide will give…

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$300.00 - $1200.00

Design your own private adventure on the "Kulapa Kai" which means...To Frolic in the Ocean! Choose from the minimum 1 hour captains special up to 18 hours with an overnight experience then hand pick from…

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$119.90

Embark on this four hour tour morning or afternoon and cruise along stunning Hawaii coastline. Snorkel amazing coral reefs. Explore sea caves, lava tubes, blow holes trenches and canyons. It's a great…

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$743.90 - $929.90

Want the boat just for your group, designate half a day to do what you would like to do with the people special to you. This private ocean excursion is yours to customize. Choose to cruise along the coastline,…

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$73.90

Go aboard a power catamaran for 2 hours and have the opportunity to experience an encounter with wild dolphins. Come face to face with dolphins, possibly have Hawaiian Green Sea turtles swim by and in…

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$103.90

Ride the Kona Nia off the Kona coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, where you will enjoy a half day of water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and swimming with pods of spinner dolphins. We also want…

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$88.90

Three and one half hour snorkel trip to Pawai Bay, which is a protected area on private land that's located on the Kona Coast. Enjoy real sailing on Kona's only sailing catamaran. Snorkel amidst…

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$101.90

Save 21.43%
(5 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Weather permitting, you will head north looking for dolphins and get in the water for a once in a lifetime encounter. This is nothing like seeing them in captivity. You will be able to see them up close…

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$84.90

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Join us for a deluxe morning snorkel trip to Pawai Bay, a protected area on private land, located on the Kona Coast. Enjoy real sailing on Kona's only sailing catamaran. Snorkel and see rainbow colored…

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$117.90
(2 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Journey in a new raft, Kamanu Elua, to the beautiful and historical Kealakekua Bay for some fun snorkeling. This tour includes your snorkel equipment, noodles and life vests. Enjoy a light tropical lunch…

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$459.90

Each tour is led by owner-operator Captain Tom Bottrell a professionally trained marine ecologist. Humpback whales are the focus of our attention from December thru May when they are here in abundant numbers.…

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$95.90

Come join in an unforgettable adventure into the amazing world of the Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Your journey begins at the Honokohau Marina, where you head up the coastline in search of one of many pods…

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$124.90
(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Your snorkeling adventure will begin in the pristine waters and the vibrant reef of the marine sanctuary at Kealakekua Bay, near the Captain Cook monument. This is perhaps the best snorkeling spot you…

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$69.90

Save 11.52%
(3 Reviews, 4.7 Stars)

After checking in, we will outfit your single or tandem kayak with life jackets, backrests, paddles, snorkel gear and bottled water. We help you launch into calm and picturesque Keauhou Bay, where we conduct…

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$135.90
(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Spend your morning snorkeling and swimming with dolphins! Your divemaster will guide and instruct a small group of guests along the deep waters of Kona coasts pristine reefs to swim with dolphins and…

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$85.00

Save 19.05%
(3 Reviews, 4 Stars)

Travel 17 miles south to Kealakekua Bay, home of the Captain Cook monument. Along the way, stop at historical sites and hear local legends and see points of interest. Your captain will watch for whales…

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$108.90

Save 13.55%
(3 Reviews, 4.3 Stars)

Your experience will start with a Hawaiian ceremony to greet the day, then begin your adventure of a morning swim with the dolphins! They love to ride the bow wake of the boat. Seeing them from the boat…

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$129.00

Join Wahine Charters as we cruise the beautiful Kona coastline and look for Hawaii's friendly spinner dolphins. It's not uncommon to encounter both the spotted dolphins and the bottlenose dolphins…

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Dolphin Excursions Sorted by Company

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(7 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Kamanu Charters Inc.

4 Activity Options

You'll enjoy "real sailing", snorkeling and whale watching on this trip with Kamanu Charters on their 36' custom designed sailing catamaran "Kamanu" to Pawai Bay. This area, located just north of Kona, is under State Fishery Management . The bay is within the Queen Liliuokalani Trust Land at Kaiwi Point and it is private. They also offer night manta ray snorkels.
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(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Ocean Encounters

1 Activity Option

The Kona Coast of the Big Island is famous for its manta rays, dolphins and whales and Ocean Encounters 46' Delta is the perfect boat from which to find and observe these beautiful underwater creatures. Being both seaworthy and stable this is a great boat for anyone but is especially ideal for an extended family with older persons on board or for anyone who is tentative with movement on the ocean.
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(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Sea Quest Rafting

1 Activity Option

Quick, maneuverable and personal are all words that accurately describe the tours offered by Sea Quest Rafting. Leaving from Keauhou Bay their 26' rafts travel the distance down to famous Kealakekua Bay to snorkel and the various tours they offer will include other locations as well. These tours are all marine intensive and dolphins almost always seem to play a big role in each ocean outing.
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(1 Review, 5 Stars)

Hang Loose Boat Tours

1 Activity Option

Wild dolphin watch & snorkel, evening sunset & manta snorkel, Kealakekua Bay snorkel.
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(20 Reviews, 4.8 Stars)

Body Glove

2 Activity Options

Kailua Kona's Body Glove Charters offers snorkel and dolphin watching tours on a daily morning charter, dinner cruises in the evenings, a historical luncheon cruise, SNUBA diving and a whale watch during the winter season. If you are interested in a wonderful 3 hour coastal tour without the snorkeling, Body Glove is the only game in town.
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(4 Reviews, 4.8 Stars)

Dolphin Discoveries

4 Activity Options

Dolphin Discoveries focuses on finding the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and/or Spotted Dolphins on their educational and personalized tours. These trips offer small groups the chance to capture a memory of a lifetime while enjoying a cruise along the calm Kona Coast of the Big Island.
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(3 Reviews, 4.7 Stars)

Ocean Safaris Adventures

1 Activity Option

If you think you might enjoy the adventure of an ocean kayak experience, Ocean Safari Kayak Adventures me be just the ticket for you. Established in 1994, the pristine Kona coastline has been the 'water world' playground of this popular kayak company which has hosted thousands of kayak enthusiasts. A variety of fish, dolphins, beautiful reefs and possibly even cliff diving can all play a part in these exciting kayak adventures.
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(7 Reviews, 4.6 Stars)

Captain Zodiac

3 Activity Options

One of the oldest charter boat companies in the state, Captain Zodiac offers spectacular personalized and adventurous snorkel and wildlife tours along the coast of Kona on the Big Island. A variety of daily snorkel tours will take you to Kealakekua Bay on speedy 24' Zodiac Rafts and outstanding whale watches are offered during the winter season.
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(3 Reviews, 4.3 Stars)

Sunlight On Water

1 Activity Option

Sunlight on Water is the name of an amazing boat that takes you out for a 'dolphin swim' off the coast of Kona on the Big Island. This very stable and smooth riding 40' vessel with quiet engines, comfortable seating, restroom and warm shower accommodates as many as 25 passengers. You will be in search of the dolphins and swimming with them in the open ocean. Manta Ray snorkels are also available in the evenings.
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(3 Reviews, 4 Stars)

Splashers Ocean Adventures

1 Activity Option

Splasher's Ocean Adventures is an eco-friendly adventure rafting company which operates out of Honokohau Harbor on the Kona Coast of the Big Island. It's 19 passenger, 30' rigid hull inflatable raft offers snorkel and dolphin tours down the coast to Kealakekua Bay, whale watches in season and two exciting evening Manta Ray snorkel tours.
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Adventure X Boat Tours

1 Activity Option

Enjoy speeds of over 40 MPH on the upgraded zodiac raft used by Adventure X Rafting while touring the areas along the coastline of the beautiful Kona region of the Big Island. Individual tours will include day trips to swim with the dolphins, spectacular evening Manta Ray snorkels and whale watching tours during the migration season.
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Adventures In Paradise

1 Activity Option

Why not consider a kayak snorkeling tour into the famous Kealakekua Bay with Adventures in Paradise? Kayaks are among the most eco-friendly marine vessels available and are a wonderful way to experience the marine environment. You can also choose to take a night-time kayak tour out to see the giant Manta Rays and jump overboard for a 'once in a lifetime' swimming experience.
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Hawaii Oceanic

2 Activity Options

Personalization is the key word describing the ocean adventures offered by Hawaii Oceanic on the Big Island. Six passengers is the maximum number that will be on board so you will have all the personal attention you will need on these adventurous tours on a comfortable 30' power catamaran. Tours will include snorkels to Kealakekua Bay, swim with the dolphin adventures, swim with Manta Ray trips and whale watches.
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Iruka Hawaii

1 Activity Option

Iruka Hawaii offers snorkel and dolphin watch tours off the coasts of the two islands in Hawaii that provide the very best venue for observing dolphins, the Waianae Coast of Oahu and the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.
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Living Ocean Adventures

1 Activity Option

Here's an opportunity to go out fishing and whale watching and dolphin watching at the same time with a captain holding a degree in oceanography. This is available to you with Tom Bottrell and his boat Living Ocean Adventures. Living Ocean Adventures offers a very clever combination of activities which allows you to experience many facets of ocean experience at the same time.
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Neptune Charlies

1 Activity Option

One of the most popular dive shops in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii is 'Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii'. Also known as Neptune Charlies, they specialize in fabulous night dives with the Manta Rays. Being a dive shop however they also have available a wide selection of dives and have dolphin and whale watches as well as snorkel tours.
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Wahine Charters

1 Activity Option

Wicked Wahine Charters operates a series of boat tours out of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Their 29' custom power vessel can easily traverse the 12 miles of coastline between Honokohau Harbor and the Captain Cook Monument while snorkeling and dolphin watching on the way, or it can take you out on a night time Manta Ray adventure or whale watching.
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Into the Blue Hawaii

3 Activity Options

"Into the Blue" offers a variety of sea tour choices for exciting ocean adventures. Ideal for small group or intimate private charters this power catamaran makes Kealakekua Bay accessible to enjoy with your family and friends.
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Hawaiian Boating Adventures

1 Activity Option

Design your own customized ocean adventures on the Big Island of Hawaii and choose both how long you want to go out and what ocean activities you want to do on your special tour.
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Video Transcript

Okay, so here's the scenario. You're coming to the Big Island and you want to see some dolphins. You have hit the jackpot. This is one of the best places in all of Hawaii and probably other places around the world too that you can actually get up close and see the dolphins, but more than that, in certain locations that we have on the Big Island, you can actually get in and swim with the wild dolphins. This is unbelievable. It's an experience that people they come away with, they are in awe of the experience. It is so amazing, and it happens so so often.

Let me show you the island here. The coastline we're talking about having this happen on is the Kona coast. This is kind of where the majority of marine sightings and so on are for us on the Big Island. Things are a little bit rougher on the other side. This is, generally speaking, going to be an area that is a little bit calmer, a little bit more boat friendly, but what happens is, there's a number of boats that do this, but this is the scenario, the way it works.

You'll go out, usually in the morning, leave from one of the harbors that we have here, and we'll go out in search of the dolphins. This is where the dolphins live, the spinner dolphins, the bottlenose dolphins. You're going to find them all along here. It is rare when we do not see the dolphins in this area. The captains are real familiar with where they can be found, and they'll cruise to the areas where they were last located and just try to get close to where we think that they're going to be.

But the way they do this that's pretty amazing, and the captains are pretty incredible that they can pull this off on a regular basis, and I'm talking really high percentage, like seeing dolphins well over 90% of the time. Of that amount of time actually being in the water swimming with them, about 75% of the time. So what actually happens is you're going to be going out. You're going to be getting in a place where the dolphins are kind of cruising down the coastline. The captains will figure this out. They know what's going on, and they'll put the boat in a place where they believe the dolphins are going to cruise through, and once they get positioned in that spot, they're going to have you as snorkelers just grab your snorkel gear and jump out off board and just be there.

Now everything about seeing the dolphins is got to do with great reverence for them and respect, and it's not a matter of interfering with their lives. It's just not pono is the word that's used in Hawaiian. It's not the right thing to do, but the dolphins, if they have an interest, they can come over and they can hang out with you, and so it's a matter of that. When we get close enough to dolphins, we never try to touch them, never try to reach out or grab them, it's just really a matter of just observing them, and this has happened for many years, they obviously seem to appreciate the way we do things, and they do it time and time again. I think that they're very curious about people as well.

But in any event what's happening is you're all now in the ocean, you're sitting there assuming that maybe dolphins are going to show up on the horizon, and sure enough, what's going to happen is all of a sudden a pod of dolphins that are maybe, I don't know how many, the times that I've done it, I'm going to say 30, and they just all come where you're, as a group of snorkelers in the water, here they're coming and they're just all between all you guys, and they're just coming right through, and you're getting incredibly close. So close you can't even believe it. In many occasions, you got the small, the babies, you got the big ones, the mothers, all of them. They're coming through and they're just so cute and it's just such an amazing thing to see. The photographs you get, you won't even believe. So that'll happen. They'll cruise through.

Then you might want to get up and get on the boat again, the captain, get in the boat, and he'll cruise around, find another location, and actually have it happen again. The last time that I was on this, I think we probably did this exercise about five times, and got so close to the dolphins during this period of time, and got such incredible photographs, the photographs that you just saw before I put up the map was one that we took that day, but it is really a super experience that we have that really doesn't happen to any extent on any of the other islands. Can't make that kind of guarantee or probable guarantee of getting close to dolphins and actually swimming with them. On Oahu, we have a similar area that that can happen in, but other than that, it's just not going to be occurring.

The other thing that we always mention in relation to dolphins, because people that are interested in dolphins are also interested in seeing manta rays, we have that off the coast of Kona as well. That's something that'll happen in the evening time. A couple hours, you'll go out and they have big spotlights that they're drawn to, and you'll have these giant giant manta rays that'll come swimming by you as you're snorkeling at night. Really kind of surreal experience, something you're not going to experience in many places in the world. So that, including the dolphin trips, are really kind of an amazing thing that we have off the Kona side of the Big Island, and the dolphin trips are also often involved with the snorkeling as well, so you'll get some additional snorkeling to see the reefs and whatever else is involved. The dolphin trips on the Big Island. These are great.

So if you have any questions about tours or activities in Hawaii, just give us a call or check out TomBarefoot.com. We're here to help.

Filter your options by clicking a link on the keyword list below.



Hawaii dolphin watching together with swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii is an industry all to its own. There is probably no sea creature quite as endearing in the eyes of a human being as the dolphin.

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Four species of dolphins are regularly found in the waters around Kauai. They are the Pacific bottlenose dolphin, the Rough-Toothed dolphin, the Spotted dolphin and the Spinner dolphin.

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The Wai'anae coast off leeward Oahu is arguably the very best spot to view dolphins in Hawaii. Hundreds of Spinner dolphins are located just moments from the harbor and trained professionals are there to introduce you to the dolphin environment.

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Unlike Maui's famous Humpback whales, dolphins are year-round residents of Hawaii and can be seen off all the Hawaiian islands during virtually every month of the year.

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