Dolphin Excursions is my favorite activity to do on Oahu. I’ve gone 4 times and scheduled to go 2 other times that got canceled because of crappy weather (yes, it happens even in Hawaii). I’ll go at least once more before I leave Hawaii. It’s that cool.
Where: Waianae (Why-ahn-eye) Boat Harbor, on the west side of the island.
Hours: Dolphin Excursions goes out 2 times a day, depending on the day. Check their website reservation page for time details for the day you are interested in. Generally, they go out at 7:30 am and 11:00 am
Cost: $120 per adult, $85 per child
What’s Included: Shuttle to and from Waikiki hotels, snorkel gear, life vests, and lunch.
Other Things You Should Know:
What Else to Bring: I always wear my bathing suit there, and bring a change of clothes. There are restrooms both at the Dolphin Excursions building and in the harbor where you can change. Always bring plenty of sunscreen. We are way closer to the equator (and thus the sun) here, and you are way more likely to burn here than back home. Wear sunscreen even if you don’t think you need it. It’ll save you from maybe getting skin cancer later, and you won’t spend the rest of your vacation looking like a cooked lobster. I don’t bring a towel. I bring a cover up dress instead. the wind from the boat ride back will dry you some, and it’s harder to lose something you are wearing, rather than a towel wrapped around you.
Life Vest: While snorkeling with the dolphins, you are required to wear your life vest. This is as much to keep you from diving down with the dolphins as it is to keep you from drowning. They allow you to snorkel without the vest when they take you to the reef later.
Photos: You can bring your underwater camera or even your Go Pro, but your pictures won’t be anywhere near as awesome as the Dolphin Excursions photographer. You can purchase a download of all of the pictures the photographer takes during lunch. It takes him/her a week or so to go through them all and spruce them up, but they are worth it. They can be purchased individually or as a group package. Since they are sent to you via an email link to download, really only one of your party needs to get them and share. Tell the photographer at the beginning if you specifically want pictures of your group, and he/she will do their best for you.
Lunch: You’ll make your breakfast or lunch selection when you check in, so that the cafe can start getting it ready when you are on your way back in. My favorite is the kalua pork tacos.
Gear: They will provide you with a mask, snorkel and fins. You are welcome to bring your own as well.
Whales: If you are here between December and April, there’s a very good chance you will see humpback whales during your excursion.
When you arrive at the blue building, you’ll go to the far left side as you are looking at it to check in. You’ll sign your waiver, select your lunch, and they will give you your snorkel gear and life jacket. When they have everyone, they’ll lead you down to the boat. The boat is a large Zodiac. It has a dry box in the middle for everyone to put their stuff in so it doesn’t get wet. You’ll leave your shoes on the dock. They’ll collect them and hold them for you while you are on your excursion.
Once everyone is on board, the crew will take the boat out to the dolphins. It doesn’t usually take them long to find the spinner dolphin pod. They will observe the pod, figure out what direction they are going,and let you get pictures. Then they’ll place the boat in front of the pod and let you get out. You’ll snorkel around and watch the dolphins as they swim under and around you. When the dolphins have passed, they’ll call you back to the boat, and you’ll repeat the process several more times.
After the dolphin swim, they will take you to a coral reef to snorkel. There are tons of fish, and usually a turtle or two. Sometimes the crew in the water will dive down and find something really cool, like an octopus, and bring it to the surface to show you.
Now that you’re good and tired, you’ll all get back on the boat and head back to the harbor. You’ll enjoy your lunch at the Spinners Cafe and perhaps order pictures from the photographer.
NOTE: All of the pictures here were taken by the Dolphin Excursions photographers. I only wish I had a badass camera that took such great underwater shots.