Big Island - Swim with Wild Dolphins
Cost: $125.97 per adult, $88.65 per child (12 & under) plus tax
This tour is offered daily at 8:00am with a 7:30am checkin at Honokohau Harbor.
The tour returns at noon.
Join the crew of the Uhane Nui O Nai'a (Great Spirit of the Dolphin) for an unforgetable morning along the Kona Coast. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins that are year round residents of Hawaii, and SunLight On Water offers you the opportunity to have an experience that you will easily remember for the rest of your life – swimming with Dolphins that are wild and free in their natural habitat.
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.
Your journey will start with a Hawaiian ceremony to greet the day, and then it’s off to the adventure of a lifetime! Dolphins are among the most intelligent beings on the planet and being with them in their own habitat will amaze you. If swimming with Dolphins is something you have always dreamed of experiencing, make your reservation now to make this dream become a reality!
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 photo sequence below for an idea of what you can experience just by riding along during this tour!
All equipment is provided; snorkel gear, flotation if needed, as well as water/sodas, fruit, muffins and snacks. All you need to bring is a towel, sunscreen, light jacket, and a camera. Most days the crew is joined by a world class videographer to capture your experience on the boat and in the ocean with the Dolphins which you can purchase at the end of the trip if you like. 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 the Aloha and Spirit of Hawaii there is simply no better tour operator than SunLight On Water with whom to experience these magnificent creatures. 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.
SOW / V
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. Children are permitted on this tour and there is no minimum age per se, but children pay the child snorkeler rate regardless of age or whether or not they snorkel. Because the dolphins are sometime encountered in open ocean waters, this is not the best tour for the "first time snorkeler." If you've never snorkeled before, we recommend that you do this tour during the second half of your vacation, and go out on a boat like the Fair Wind II during the first half of your vacation to get a little snorkeling experience.
Because of the timing of this 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.
There is nothing that compares to the feeling of being in the ocean with the Dolphins! You can see Dolphins on tv, can visit them in captivity, and you can even see them from a boat – but swimming with them 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 leaders when talking about experience with dolphins. 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. They have been conducting Dolphin Swims longer and more successfully than any other Hawaiian Dolphin Swim eco-tour operator – 15 years! They have a 98% success rate in finding the Dolphins each day! Equally important is the context within which they offer their tours. Their philosophy is one of total respect for the Dolphins, all marine life and the ocean.
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. He operated the first charter boat offering Dolphin Swims in Hawaii. 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 following the conclusion of a tour and he was doing some maintenance work on 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 operated on Maui as the Whale Express for several years. We loved the boat then, and we're thrilled that it is once again offering tours in Hawaii. This boat is fast, comfortable, and while some boats are TOO big and other boats are TOO SMALL ... for this dolphin swim program 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.
On the way to the likely spot where we would encounter the pod, the crew broke the tour group into several smaller groups and each staff member spent time explaining the etiquette ... the do's and don'ts ... of slipping into the ocean and watching the Dolphins. During our 4 hour tour we were dropped into the ocean four times, and on each drop we witnessed the graceful dance of the Dolphins. For every one Dolphin that is seen at the surface, there are many many more swimming 10 to 15 feet below. At times it was overwhelming when the pod passed by ... do I continue to watch the 15 dolphins that just swam past me? Or should I watch the 20 more that are heading toward me? There were so many of them!
As stated above, we do recommend some previous snorkeling experience prior to doing this tour. This experience can be gained easily by doing a snorkel tour that is more oriented toward a first-timer a few days before you do the dolphin swim tour. A good tour for learning how to snorkel can be found by clicking here. Reserve the Fair Wind II for a date early in your vacation, and do the dolphin swim later in your vacation. Oh, a word about kids on this tour. Children who are too young to snorkel must be accompanied by an adult at all times while on board; parents usually "take turns" with the child so both can experience the dolphin swim.