Hawaii, and the crystal clear waters off its shores, are home to an incredibly diverse array of wildlife. Being able to see these animals living freely in their own natural habitat has become one of the island's main tourist attractions, and the biggest star of the pacific is arguably the magnificent Spinner Dolphin (who get their name from the impressive spinning and twirling they do when jumping out of the water). Several tours departing from Kona offer the opportunity not only to see them but swim right along side them.Of the countless options available, we ended up choosing a company called Kona Ocean Adventures. They provided a morning tour that lasted about four and half hours which takes you from Kona Harbour up the coast in search of the dolphins. Our group was just my partner and I and one other family so the boat wasn't crowded or overfull. The driver and tour guide were very knowledgeable and knew exactly where to look for the pods. Once spotted, you quickly throw on your snorkel gear and jump in the water and they're right there beside you. It's a thrilling experience, to not just view the dolphin, like many of us have done behind plexiglass at a marine park or zoo, but actually come within inches of these beautiful animals in the wild. It's also humbling to know that now you're in their massive, seemingly endless expanse of home and they are not in yours. It's their territory and you are only a guest, so being respectful and responsible is of the utmost importance. (Giving the dolphins plenty of space, not touching them, and other basic common sense rules always apply.)After swimming without about three different pods, the driver took us for a bit of reef snorkeling at Captain Cook and a delicious lunch was provided on board where we parked the boat and were able to see the dolphins play from afar, doing all of their amazing aqua acrobatics. It was an incredible day that I won't soon forget. For more info on Kona Ocean Adventures, check out their website: http://www.konaoceanadventures.com/swim-with-dolphins-kona.html
Points of interest
One of Hawaii's best dive spots. The only access, as told by our guide, was either by boat or mountain hike to the shore.
Honokohau Small Boat Harbor
Kona Ocean Adventures Dolphin Tours departs from here, as do many other similar companies.