There are a lot of activities to do in Hawaii such as off-roading on the muddy roads of Kualoa Ranch on ATVs, Parasailing off the coast of Waikiki during a gorgeous sunset, free falling (with style), aka, Skydiving on the North Shore past Wailua, and countless other activities. All these activities yet, here we are still experiencing new things we didn’t know existed. This new venture was one we haven’t done yet while on tour: swimming with dolphins via Hawaii Experiences. Thankfully, we were able to do this as a family. It was perfect for a sunny summer’s day.
Our meeting point was at Waianae Harbor. They offer transportation services from Waikiki hotels. However, we only live 40 minutes away and decided to drive ourselves (average time from Waikiki is 1 hour without traffic). There were no clear instructions in the confirmation email as to where to meet exactly at besides Waianae Harbor and “By the bathrooms.” When we got there, there were boats at dock A, B, and C which confused us as to which docks to be at, specifically. We waited by the bathrooms for the Hawaii Experience bus to get to the harbor for check-in. We arrived early and ended up waiting for about 20 minutes. The bus was behind the bathroom, where we eventually found our greeter and signed-in.
Once we checked-in and signed the safety forms, we met up with the majority of the group (most got off the bus with the greeter) and headed to the dock. We did the Midday Catamaran Dolphin, Turtle, and Reef experience on the Island Princess.
Propmtly after boarding, we were handed a flower and a laminated paper with a Hawaiian chant printed in English and a Japanese translation at the bottom. Everyone participated in this traditional ritual. Gathered along the edges of the catamaran, we sang the song three times and heaved our flowers into the wind, in wishes of a safe passage.
Enroute, we were greeted by some sprouty friends! They were the same group we would see later in the day. As we were enjoying the splashes and sights, the staff sized us up with snorkels, diving masks, and fins.
As soon as the captain stopped the boat (without anchoring), we headed to the stern, and, as if we were on a critical message in the Army Airborne jumping out of a plane, jumped in after constant shouts of “GO, GO, GO.” The hectic pace was to be right in front of the dolphins as they gently slipped under. Everything seemed fast paced and in almost organized chaos – the staff wanted everyone to get a chance to see the dolphins.
To keep from startling the dolphins, we packed our group in like a heard of cattle – it was a bit of a startle as we were always bumping into other members of our group. After getting in position (from jumping in the water to panic positioning, this all happened within about 2 minutes) we looked under water to see around 30 dolphins! All the anxiety from the chaotic process faded immediately as just being in the presence of such graceful creatures within hands reach was a tranquil experience.
Just as quickly getting out of the boat, we immediately boarded again, to catch up with the pod that just passed us. Then we were off jumping into the water again. At this point, some people decided to stay on deck – it is face paced and quite breathtaking, literally. It was worth it though. We swam with dolphins – more than 30 of them!
To slow our momentum, we anchored at a beautiful dive spot and spent the remaining time here. We were lucky and saw turtles, jelly fish, fishes, and a white-tip reef shark!
After snorkeling for approximately about 20 minutes, we headed back to the boat. The crew came around with lunch, provided with the tour. We were given cheeseburger, chips, juice, freshly cut pineapple, and macadamia chocolate.
On the way back to the harbor, the crew became entertainers and performed a sloppy-fun hula show that welcomed visitors to participate in. The team also took family photos with everyone. It felt as if we were becoming part of an extended family.
The onboard photographer captured many of the excellent photos. He was constantly snapping pictures of the random moments and adorable lifetime memories. The photos are available for purchase, and they’ll email a link to you or can pick it up via USB at the office. We were lucky to see a lot of aquatic life, and although there are no guarantees with nature, just being able to swim in crystal clear, placid waters off the Hawaiian coast would be a great Hawaii Experience. That being said, it does get intense in trying to catch up with marine life so prepare yourself for quick changes and fast movements (life vests are required, everyone has to wear one).
Disclaimer: Wanderlustyle was invited to experience a tour with Hawaii Experiences. All our opinions are honest. Mahalo!