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I recently had one of the best days I’ve ever had in Hawaii on board a Dolphin Watch cruise through Dolphin Star. Since I work for Hawaii Aloha Travel, I was invited to be a guest of Dolphin Star during one of their cruises to learn more about it. I had never been dolphin watching, so I jumped at the chance to go. A friend came along with me. Neither of us had any idea what to expect, but we were ready for an adventure.
I was not asked to write about it or review the tour in any way, but I loved the cruise so much that I wanted to share it with you. All opinions of this cruise are my own.
My friend and I arrived at 9:00 am at the Waianae Boat Harbor. Waianae seems like it’s on the very edge of the island, away from everything. It’s an hour’s drive from Waikiki.
Luckily, Dolphin Star has a deluxe motorcoach bus that will pick you up from Waikiki. The ride includes an onboard restroom and a video presentation.
Or, if you prefer, you can drive there. After much research, the owners found that Waianae has the highest concentration of dolphins. And so, to Waianae we went.
They custom-built their dolphin vessel to maximize viewing space. A wraparound deck gives passengers 360-degree views. The vessel also features a state-of-the-art swimming platform.
Dolphin Star also offers a snorkeling cruise that is similar to the cruise that I went on, but it includes the chance to get in the water and snorkel. I love snorkeling, but I couldn’t make the time of the snorkel cruise.
As you arrive on board, a photographer takes a picture of you and your party. I had forgotten my sunglasses so I was afraid my eyes would be completely shut in the picture, but the photographer magically captured my eyes open! I loved the way our photo turned out and I thought it was such a cool souvenir.
We immediately headed up to the top deck to get the best views. It was a perfect day, with crystal clear water that was even bluer than the sky. The captain gave us a safety briefing and told us how the day was going to go.
Before I knew it, we were underway. I tend to get motion sickness, so I took a ginger pill before going on board. The crew also had ginger pills on hand, and some people took them as a preventative measure. I’ve been on a bunch of boats and catamarans in Hawaii and have felt sick a few times. But I was so impressed with how smooth the ride was on the Dolphin Star. I felt completely fine the entire time.
As we left the harbor, I was blown away by the gorgeous views of the Waianae coastline. I would have been content if this was all we had seen. I’m so glad I finally got to enjoy this side of the island.
Soon, we got to where the dolphins like to hang out. Before I knew it, there were dolphins everywhere! We must have seen 50 or 60 dolphins swimming in pods and jumping around. Although boats are not allowed to get within a certain amount of feet of marine animals, some of them were curious about the boat and came right up to us!
We hung out with the dolphins for a while. I couldn’t believe how fun and playful they were, and I could not believe how many we saw.
There were naturalists on board who talked to us a lot about the dolphins and answered any questions we had. I learned that Hawaiian dolphins are unique because they have not been hunted like others in the Pacific. In fact, Hawaiians used dolphins to help them navigate.
So, they are not afraid of boats or and humans and will even come near boats to say hello.
Before I knew it, lunch was ready: a build-your-own burger bar. My friend and I both agreed that the lunch was amazing. There were two different kinds of buns, a taro bun, and a kaiser bun. I had the taro bun because those are my favorite.
After you select your bun, you select your toppings: grilled pineapple, avocado, Kamuela vine ripened tomatoes, onion, Kula lettuce, and cheese. On the side, you get a trio of potato chips: taro chips, Maui-style potato chips, and sweet potato chips. Dessert is homemade chocolate brownies. Dolphin Star also offers vegan selections and a grilled vegan garden burger if you notify them before you go.
Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and juice are also available for purchase.
As we were making our way back to the harbor, the boat suddenly slowed down. I thought we were going to see more dolphins, but the crew had spotted a Hawaiian green sea turtle! These are special animals and it was incredible to see one swimming around.
Look how close the sea turtle came to us!
This is a family-friendly tour. Naturalists on board provide special activities for keiki (children) and give them an educational handout.
Bring sunglasses! Don’t be like me and leave them at home! It gets bright out on the water. Also, keep in mind that not everywhere on the boat has shade. Bring sunscreen. It will also be easier to walk around the boat if you wear closed toed shoes. I wore sneakers and felt comfortable walking around.
Also, bring a camera! But make sure you have it on a strap so that you don’t lose it.
If you are interested in making a dolphin watch cruise part of your Hawaiian vacation, give us a call today! Our travel agents will help you decide which tour is for you!