I lived on Hawaii for many years, and one of the best, most fun, most joy-filled things to do in the world (for me anyway) is to play with dolphins in Hawaii. Dolphins are just such sociable and playful creatures that they put a song in your heart.
Best Places to Swim with Dolphins on Oahu
These are the only two paid dolphin swim outfits on Oahu:
Wild Dolphin Swim Boats on Oahu Sail Hawaii Possibly the best wild dolphin swim outfit in all of the islands; they take care of you and respect the dolphins too.
Dolphin Excursions Hawaii Check out their facebook page for regular pictures from their excursions.
Best Place to Swim with Dolphins on Maui
There is no dolphin-swim program like dolphin quest on Maui. Here’s some wild dolphin swim boats.
Best Place to Swim with Dolphins on the Big Island
On the Big Island, there is one dolphin quest program at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which is one of my favorite Hawaii hotels ever.
Big Island Wild Dolphin Swims
One Love One Spirit Dolphin Tour Fair Wind Boat Tour This is not speciically a dolphin swim, but dolphins live in Kealakekua Bay where they go, and most times I went we saw dolphins. One time I even swam with them.
Best Places to Swim with Dolphins on Kauai
There are no dolphin quest-type programs on Kauai, only wild dolphin boat tours. I haven’t actually been able to find any that I can link to, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find any once you get there. And any boat tour has a chance of running into dolphins, try blue dolphin charters
dolphins swimming underwater on the big island
One place you can be guaranteed interaction and play with a dolphin is the Waikoloa Hilton Resort on the Big Island. This is one of my favorite hotels by the way, but anyway they have the Dolphin Quest program.
It’s not cheap,but for me it was so worth it, and the money supports the marine biologist’s research. They teach you a lot about the dolphins, and they take you into a lagoon where you get to feed, pet and play with a dolphin.
Dolphin Quest is a model for other dolphin interactions programs. They are very committed to their dolphins and educating the public.
In Hawaii’s oceans it is illegal to actually swim up to, follow or touch a dolphin. But there are boat tours that take you to place the dolphins are likely to visit, and sometimes the dolphins will approach the people and play with them by blowing bubbles or offering toys (like a strand of seaweed).
Even when the dolphins don’t approach you while swimming, it is really fun to watch them from the boat – they like to surf in the wake too. One of the best dolphin tours in my opinion are the Wild Side Dolphin tours. These are led by marine biologists who respect the dolphins and are careful not to go near during the dolphin’s rest time.
Other places to swim and play with dolphins in Hawaii include Dolphin Quest at the Kahala resort on Oahu, Sealife Park on Oahu and ethical snorkel/dolphin tours like Wild Side.
I had some awesome wild dolphin encounters in Hawaii. One of the best was at a secluded beach in Kau on the Big Island, but we had no good camera with us so you can’t see pictures. The beach was at the end of the road to the sea. We 4-wheeled it down, put our kayak in the water, and a pod of spinner dolphins SURROUNDED us. It was almost scary. They were leaping out of the water within two and three feet of our little boat. They were everywhere. The energy was amazing.
(I’ve also been within 10 feet of a humpback whale in that little kayak off Hilo side. THAT was scary. 🙂 and awesome.
Another cool experience was in Kealakekua Bay. I’ve seen them from the kayak there (here’s a friend’s pictures of dolphins from a kayak trip in the bay and I’ve seen them from the Fair Winds boat tour (here’s my dolphin pictures of that time)
One more cool experience was on a sea raft at Na Pali Coast on Kauai. We were real close to the water and the dolphins came up to us to check us out. 🙂 That’s always cool.