A trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without an underwater swim with dolphins. Luckily, Hawaiian waters are home to eight species of dolphins, including bottlenose and spinner dolphins. There are companies that take visitors to swim with dolphins in the wild, but most offer dolphin watching tours from a boat. You may consider signing up for a dolphin session in a park or hotel, which will be a guaranteed way to get up close and personal with one of the ocean’s most intelligent creatures.
Dolphins in the Wild
When swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, it’s important to be respectful to them. Keep your distance (50 yards, according to federal law) and don’t swim too close. If you’re lucky, a dolphin may swim up to you out of curiosity. Take as many photos as you want, but please be mindful not to touch them.
Some boat tours guarantee a swim with dolphins and offer another tour for free if you fail to swim with them the first time around. I’d suggest planning a dolphin swim during the winter months because there’s a higher chance of seeing whales as well. An added bonus, for sure!
Most dolphin watch tours include snorkeling or scuba ping during the voyage out to sea. It’s best to bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and – if you have – a pair of binoculars. However, most tours provide these.
Dolphins in the Park
Sea Life Park on Oahu has the best dolphin swim program. Why? Because it’s guaranteed that you’ll not only swim with them but also hug, pet and kiss the dolphins. They’re trained to do this, so it’s completely safe. To top it off, Sea Life Park offers a dolphin-luau package; after your dolphin adventure, you can enjoy authentic Hawaiian food.
On the Big Island, the Hilton Waikoloa offers a program that brings guests face-to-face with dolphins. Dolphin Quest is great for the entire family, with various packages for dolphin swims, or as they call it, dolphin dances.