Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water

Fast boat ... small group ... and experts on dolphin behavior

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water

Convenient departure from Honokohau Harbor

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water captain Mike chanting

A ceremonial flute and a traditional Hawaiian chant start the day

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water

This vessel is just the right size for a dolphin interaction

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water

Dolphins love to swim at the bow of the boat

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water a pod of dolphins

For every dolphin at the surface there are dozens below

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water swimming with dolphins

Swimming alongside their graceful underwater ballet

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water eye to eye with a dolphin

Get eye to eye with a wild dolphin

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water dolphin loves swimming with the boat

Dolphins love racing in front of and along side the boat

Dolphin Swim in Kona on Sunlight on Water spinner dolphin jump

Spinner Dolphins don't just swim ... they leap for joy!

10/6/2021 IMPORTANT UPDATE: Effective 10/28/2021 all “swim with wild dolphin programs” in Hawaii will be changed by new Federal regulations. All swimming with dolphins in Hawaiian waters will be prohibited, so these tours will now focus on watching for dolphins and observing them from the boat while on the way to / from excellent reef snorkel sights.
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Hawaiian spinner dolphins are year round residents of Hawaii, and this is your opportunity to see them in their natural habitat. On the way to and from some excellent reef snorkel sites, the crew with watch out for pod of spinne dolphins, bottle nose dolphins, melonhead whales, and other marine mammals.

Morning Ocean and Reef Snorkel (with Dolphin Watching)

Join the crew of the Uhane Nui O Nai’a (Great Spirit of the Dolphin) for an unforgetable morning along the Kona Coast. The Uhane Nui O Nai’a is a 40′ vessel that has been custom built for snorkeling, with two ladders and a swim platform at the stern. It offers a fast, stable, smooth ride with comfortable padded seating, a rest room, plenty of shade, and a warm freshwater shower after you are done snorkeling. She is Coast Guard certified for 35 passengers but to ensure a quality experience for everyone, the tours are limited to a maximum of 25 guests.

For those who don’t snorkel, this boat also offers unparalleled viewing opportunities for watching and photographing dolphins at the surface and during their acrobatic displays. See the slideshow for an idea of what you can experience just by riding along!

Most days the crew is joined by a world class videographer to capture your experience on the boat and in snorkeling in the ocean …  which you can purchase at the end of the trip. It is a wonderful way to re-experience your day again and again.

If you are seeking an experience that is out of the ordinary and that will connect you to these magnificent creatures and the Aloha and Spirit of Hawaii there is simply no better tour operator than SunLight On Water. Ecotourism is based upon the following principles; minimizing impact, building environmental and cultural awareness and respect and providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts. SunLight on Water is committed to upholding these principles during their tours.

Schedule: Daily at 7:30am

Duration: 4 hours

Check In: Honokohau Harbor slip #G18.

Tour includes: Fresh fruit, muffins, cold beverages, and a variety of dry snacks. 12-20 digital photos of your trip.

Vessel: 40 foot USCG certified vessel - Custom built for snorkeling with warm water shower and restroom

Capacity: 25

General Information
Check In: Honokohau Harbor, 5 miles south of the Kona Airport on the ocean side of Highway 11/19 (Queen Kaahumanu Highway)

GPS: Slip G18 96745, 74-381 Kealakehe Pkwy, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 Click to view map

Gear Provided: Snorkel gear and flotation devices

What to Bring & Wear: Towel, swim wear, sunscreen, warm and dry clothes, hat, sun glasses, and camera

Restrictions: This is a unique and active tour. Participants should be in good health and should be comfortable swimming in the ocean, although various flotation devices are available to assist those who desire them. Minimum age is 3, and children who are too young to get in the ocean must have an adult stay with them on the boat at all times.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours before the start of the event. 72 hours for party of 5 or more.

dolphin snorkel swim
Dolphins love to swim at the bow of the boat
dolphin snorkel swim
The boat is the right size for dolphin interaction

CDolphin Snorkel Swimruise Ship Passengers

Because of the timing of the Dolphin Snorkel Swim tour, it is not possible for cruise ship passengers. Kona is a tender port, and it takes time to ride the shuttle boat to shore.

Activity Tips

Kevin Ditamore – Owner / Manager

There is nothing that compares to the feeling of being in the ocean with the dolphins! You can see dolphins on tv, you can visit them in captivity, but seeing them from  a boat in their natural ocean habitat is a unique and magical experience that can touch you in ways you might not be able to imagine. Michael and Melainah Yee are Kona’s unquestioned dolphin experts. They are known internationally and have been featured on several television documentaries discussing the Human/Dolphin connection. They also have an exceptional kinship with these marvelous creatures, and can offer you a dolphin experience unlike any other. T

Captain Michael (aka China Mike) has been surfing, diving and has captained boats on the Kona Coast for over 25 years and is one of the most experienced captains on the Big Island. While in his teens, he became a well known champion surfer in Hawaii and Southern California. He is a complete water-man and his extensive knowledge of the coastline is unsurpassed. He is as comfortable in the water as most people are on land. When we first met “China Mike”,  he was at the harbor after a tour and he was doing some maintenance work on the Uhane Nui O Nai’a. I got a big grin on my face because I instantly recognized the hull … this is the same vessel that was operated on Maui as the Whale Express for several years. We loved the boat then, and we’re thrilled that it is once again providing tours in Hawaii. This boat is fast, comfortable, and while some boats are TOO big and other boats are TOO SMALL … for the dolphin watching and reef snorkeling, this boat is JUST RIGHT!

We joined “China Mike” for a tour on 2/20/2009. Our day began with a safety briefing, and just after the boat left the harbor the engines fell silent and I witnessed something that I’ve never previously experienced on a tour boat in Hawaii. We paused as the Captain recounted his love for the dolphins and the ocean, and shared the need to approach the day with reverence for what we would experience. He blew a ceremonial bamboo flute to each of the four points of the compass and then performed a traditional Hawaiian chant / blessing upon our day together. Very nice.

We encountered several pods of dolphins during the morning tour, and I got some great photos of them swimming at the bow and leaping into the air. And as you will learn on the tour, they are doing this while they are ASLEEP (well … half-asleep.) Dolphins sleep by resting half their brain at a time, with the other half completely alert!

Other snorkel options include Fairwind, Hula Kai, Waikoloa Snorkel Sail, Captain Zodiac Rafting, Manta Ray Night Snorkel.