Captain Zodiac - Kona
4 Hour Tour: Adults $99.00, Children 5-12 $78 - available Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday with an 8am checkin or a 12:45pm checkin
5 Hour Tour: $112.00 adult, $82.00 Children 5-12 - available on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday with a 9:45am checkin.
Captain Zodiac is the original Big Island rafting expedition. With their pirate theme and desire to entertain visitors, they have been "pillaging and plundering" the Kailua-Kona coastline for over 35 years and they have been having a blast doing it! Captain Zodiac operates a fleet of 16 passenger Hurricane 733's ... they are fast, powerful, highly maneuverable, and very safe.
The adventure begins at either Honokohau Harbor which is just south of the Kona Airport ... or on days when a cruise ship is in port they depart from the main pier in downtown Kailua-Kona. They start the adventure by pointing out historical sites of interest offshore from Kona. Then they zip south past miles of rocky shoreline, lava flows, and sea caves. En route to and from the snorkel location they often encounter large marine life like spinner and bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, and pilot whales year round. Humpback whales are seen in winter months.
The ultimate destination is the incredible snorkel experience at Kealakekua Bay, the historic scene of Captain Cook's arrival and ultimate demise in Hawaii. The area is now a marine preserve and the high cliffs surrounding this spot make it inaccessible by land.
The waters here are typically very clear and calm, with a host of sealife to enjoy as you snorkel the reef. The population of yellow tangs in this area is particularly impressive. Captain Zodiac will supply all snorkel gear, including prescription masks and flotation devices. The Zodiac drifts around the bay following the guests as they snorkel. You have up to 90 minutes to enjoy the snorkel spot, and you can climb back up the ladder anytime you are done. After snorkeling, the captain serves a tropical snack for you.
On the return trip is when they get in close, hugging the rugged shorline and exploring places like sea caves and blowholes that only smaller zodiacs can go. Their captains are experts at what they do ... they also are naturalists, geologists, historians, stand up comedians ... but above all they are pirates!
The 4 hour tour is offered Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday with an 8am checkin or a 12:45pm checkin. The 5 hour tour is typically offered on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday with a 9:45am checkin. This 5 hour tour adds more snorkel time and a deli lunch.
Captain Zodiac is a thrilling high speed ride on the open ocean. Due to the bouncy nature of this event, they do not allow pregnant women, anyone with neck or back injuries or in poor health, or children under 5 to participate in their tour.
Captain Zodiac tours depart from the same dock where your cruise ship tender arrives in Kona on days when there is a cruise ship in port. They depart from this location EVERY Wednesday with the weekly arrival of the Pride of America. They also depart from this location when other ships like the Carnival Spirit, Golden Princess, Zandaam, and others are in port. While it is theoretically possible to do the 8am time, you MUST get the first tender off your ship which may be difficult to guarantee. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND you avoid that stress and that cruise ship passengers book the 12:45pm trip ... it is back in plenty of time for your return to your ship.
Snorkeling along the Kona Coast is some of the best anywhere in Hawaii. Fish love lava rocks and coral ... sand not so much. Because the Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands, there has been less time for parrotfish to chomp on the coral and to ... ummm .. excrete it out the other end. That's where sand comes from you know ... really! Remember that the next time you are walking down a beautiful white sand beach ... it's just a pile of parrotfish dung! Anyway, there is very little sand on the Big Island ... it has a very rocky coastline and this makes for excellent snorkeling. Captain Zodiac is the best choice for snorkeling, AND sightseeing along these rocky, volcanic shores.
These tours aren't for everyone ... they aren't really phycially demanding but you do need to be free of any nagging injuries that could be aggrevated by the bouncy nature of this ride. Kids need to be a minimum age of 5 ... and ladies carrying the unborn can't go as the unborn are definitely under the age of 5. But what about those of you who are prone to sea sickness??? We actually find that the motion of a high speed raft causes LESS seasickness issues than larger boats. Larger boats have more of a tendency to sway back and forth ... while these rafts having more of a punching motion as they pierce the waves. It's that rocking-swaying motion that disturbs the inner ear ... the bouncing-pounding motion doesn't bother most people.
If this is the right tour for you, the next choice is which tour time is right for you? The 5 hour tour is the best deal as it is longer and includes lunch for just $5 more! If you are doing the 4 hour tour, you have your choice between am and pm trips. Cost and length is the same either way. The general wisdom is that in the Hawaiian Islands the tradewinds kick up in the afternoon and the ocean gets rough. This is ESPECIALLY true on the island of Maui, but it isn't as true for the Kona Coast of the Big Island. Kona is in the wind shadow of Mauna Loa, which is the TALLEST mountain on planet earth when measured from its base in the ocean depths. It reaches up to nearly 14,000 feet, and it is massively wide and broad ... the ultimate example of a shield volcano. This shield volcano shields the Kona Coast from tradewinds, which means 2 things. #1 It is often just as calm in the afternoon as it is the morning out on the ocean and #2 Without the tradewinds Kona can get just downright stuffy and hot onshore in the afternoon. Why not enjoy the island during the morning hours before things really heat up, then go out and do your Zodiac tour during the HEAT of the day?
Captain Zodiac is an award-winning tour for cruise ship passengers. While their tours normally depart from Honokohau Harbor, any day that a cruise ship is in port they depart from the main dock in downtown Kona so that any cruise ship passengers can just get off their tender and jump on the Zodiac. How convenient is that??? We highly recommend that cruise ship passengers do the afternoon timeslot. The morning tour can be done, but don't forget about the time it takes to ride the tender to shore, and don't forget that every one of those other 2500 people on your cruise ship is in just as much of a hurry to get into the dock as you are. We recommend that you eat breakfast while all those others are waiting in endless lines, and then take a leisurely tender after the crowds have thinned. Get to shore around 10am, walk around a little bit and look over the shops, then head back to the pier for your Captain Zodiac tour checkin. Our goal is to help you have a great time on your vacation AND to help you reduce your stress at the same time. You don't need stress. Stress is bad.
If you are not a cruise ship passenger, your tour will most likely depart from Honokohau Harbor, which is just south of the airport and about 10 minutes drive north of downtown Kona. But it IS possible that even though you are not on a cruise ship, you might be booking a tour for a day when a ship is in port. If that is the case, your email confirmation will direct you to the Kona Pier instead of the Captain Zodiac location at Honokohau. Tours always depart from the Kona Pier on Wednesdays since the Pride of America is in port every week on that day. Other ships are hit and miss ... again ... your confirmation will tell you the departure point on your date.