Dolphin Excursions - swim with wild dolphins!
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Morning Tour Rates: Adults $120, Children 12 and under $85
Regular Morning Tour Times: 10:30am with Waikiki pickup between 8:45am and 9:00am
Many vacationers to Hawaii dream of the opportunity to swim with dolphins in their natural environment ... the crew of Dolphin Excursions may just be able to make this dream come true for you!
Dolphin Excursions specializes in rafting tours along the more remote west shore of Oahu. This area is well known for having the calmest and clearest waters around Oahu, and is ideal for snorkeling, whale watching (in season) and dolphin encounters. This coastline attracts large pods of spinner dolphins and groups of bottlenose dolphins.
Your adventure begins with shuttle pick-up service at your Waikiki hotel. You will be transported to the Waianae Boat Harbor on the west side of the island, where you will meet the crew of the Naia I ... a fast, highly maneuverable 32' zodiac that is perfect for these excursions. Maximum tour capacity is 22 guests.
On a typical tour there are three components:
1. Viewing spinner dolphins from the boat (all year) as well as humpback whales (November to April). Bottlenose dolphins are also encountered frequently. This is a chance to watch the acrobatic performance of these amazing creatures as the spinner dolphins swim in the wake of the boat, frequently leaping out of the water in amazing acrobatic displays. Success at observing dolphins and whales is very high (in the 90% range on the earlier morning tours). Dolphin Excursions is so confident that you'll encounter dolphins and/or whales (in season) that they will put you on another trip for free if there aren't any sightings during your tour.
2. Snorkeling / swimming with dolphins. Dolphin Excursions calls their in-water program "the drop". When a pod of dolphins is encountered and ocean conditions are favorable, the crew of the Nai'a will orchestrate the timing and entry point so that you can view them in their underwater environment. During this aspect of the program all snorkelers must wear life jackets while swimming in the open ocean. "The drop" is successful about 90% of the time on the earlier morning tours when dolphins are sighted and about 50% of the time in the later morning and afternoon tour times.
3. Snorkeling with tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. The west side offers a variety of pristine reefs for snorkeling with colorful fish and giant sea turtles. During periods of high surf (mainly in the winter) snorkeling may not be possible on all tours. If ocean conditions for snorkeling are not good, more time will be spent watching whales and dolphins.
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Excursions last for three hours and are limited to 22 guests. Children under 4 are NOT recommended for this tour. Lunch is served in a restaurant after the tour and this lunch is included in the tour price.
Complimentary transportation from Waikiki hotels is included, and we highly recommend that you allow them to pick you up. Pickup at some other hotels that are not in Waikiki can also be arranged ... call toll-free 1.877.678.7333 for details. Pickup is also available at Aloha Tower Marketplace for cruise ship passengers. Those who are driving themselves to the boat will receive directions to the Waianae small boat harbor in their email confirmation.
An afternoon tour may be available for larger groups by special request. Call toll-free 1.877.678.7333 to check availability and rates for this afternoon tour.
Rates quoted above do not include sales/harbor tax of 7.5% which will be added to the cost of all reservations.
Cruise ship passengers are able to participate in this tour, and Dolphin Excursions will pick you up at the dock. .
We are proud to now offer this excursion to our clients. My wife and I recently joined Dolphin Excursions on a late morning tour. It was a treat for us to experience this part of Oahu from the ocean, as most other water activities are oriented toward the south and east sides of the island. We happened to catch a particularly windy day, and I was rather skeptical about our chances of encountering dolphins in these conditions. When it's windy, the surface of the ocean gets choppy and it can be hard to spot dolphins in the distance.
About 30 minutes into the tour my fears were put to rest as we encountered several bottlenose dolphins. These are a large species of dolphins ... if you grew up in the 60's or earlier you remember Flipper, right? He was a bottlenose dolphin. This group swam with our boat for several minutes.
Our next encounter was with a large pod of spinner dolphins. These guys are small compared to bottlenose dolphins, but what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm! They dance and play and leap out of the water ... and the size of the pod was impressive (in the neighborhood of 80 or so .... it was a little hard to count accurately because they just wouldn't stand still).
We stayed with this pod for a long time ... and eventually followed them into a nicely protected area where "the drop" began. When I entered the water and looked down I had a about 20 members of the pod swimming about 15 feet straight down from me. I followed them with my underwater video camera for several minutes, until a solo spinner dolphin to my right caught my eye. He was much closer to the surface and heading toward me, so I turend my camera his way. Either my timing was perfect or he was trained to perform for the camera because just as I focused on him he suddenly accelerated and broke to the surface, and I filmed him leaping out of the water! Here's a brief clip from my experience!
We ended the tour with an hour or so of snorkeling offshore from Makaha Beach in an area with lots of colorful fish and a healthy population of green sea turtles.
Dolphin Excursions did a great job of fascilitating a dolphin encounter on a "marginal" weather day in windy conditions. That gives me an awful lot of confidence in recommending their operation to our clients. For those who are able, I recommend the early tour time as the winds are typically lighter first thing in the morning, and the percentage of success is the highest.