Perhaps you’ve cruised along the Waikīkī coastline on a ship or raft and seen the city lights and dense collection of manmade structures. Here’s an option that will help you breathe deeper—a dolphin or whale watch outing with Dolphin Excursions.
The company is located on O‘ahu’s west side and based out of Waianae Boat Harbor where there’s less of a crowd competing for the view.
“The harbor is in the middle of the Leeward coast,” explains Jenna Morris, senior captain and marine biologist, “where many species of mammals are found nearshore including whales, dolphins and monk seals.”
So hop aboard Nai‘a I and you’ll cruise along the coast from Barber’s Point all the way to remote Kā‘ena Point, passing maybe a couple of condos, the electric plant and the small communities of Nānākuli and Wai‘anae. But what you’ll be unprepared for is the wildly beautiful, uninterrupted stretch of the Wai‘anae mountain range. It’s definitely worth the drive to the west side!
Dolphin Excursions provides an open-ocean, safari-style dolphin tour that follows federal protocols for passive viewing of resident Spinner dolphins. This allows for flexibility to search for marine life and includes stopping at the best snorkel sites, as well as catering to guest requests. Marine biologists and naturalists, and at least one certified lifeguard for every six guests (maximum of 22 per tour) are part of the crew. They also assist with marine research by submitting photo identification of dolphins they encounter.
“There’s something about our boat that makes each interaction with wildlife special,” says Morris. “Our boat is quiet and sits less than three feet above the water allowing not only us to see the wildlife, but for the wildlife to see US. I’ll never forget the first time a 45-foot whale gently swam up to our 32-foot boat, and made eye contact with me. I try to share experiences like that with guests from all over the world to inspire and educate about how significant and fragile our ocean ecosystem is.”
During humpback whale season, join one of their dedicated whale tours. “We offer three-hour whale tours through March,” says Morris. “We snorkel with turtles and search for whales, and a picnic-style lunch on the boat is included.” And if you don’t see a whale on the tour, each guest receives a free return trip voucher! Same goes for the dolphin tour.
Roundtrip transportation from Waikīkī and Ko ‘Olina hotels is also included, but if you’re driving, you’ll find lots of free parking available at the harbor. They also have their own bathrooms, changing rooms and outside showers. Plus enjoy a complimentary lunch at Spinners Cafe following the tour (if lunch isn’t provided on the boat).
Situated in Wai‘anae, Dolphin Excursions keeps community ties strong by making local donations of service that include funeral boat outings to celebrate the life of a deceased family member. They also assist with state ocean safety rescues and work closely with local, state and federal marine mammal research programs.