Who wants to go swimming with Dolphins? I’m not talking about jumping into an aquarium with them or watching them swim by the boat. I mean get in the water and swim with wild Dolphins in their environment on their terms? I know, who in their right mind would say no? Since 1996 Wild Side Specialty Tours has been sharing the magic and wonder of Dolphins, Green Sea Turtles, and anything and everything that swims off the coast of Oahu. This isn’t your standard snorkel adventure where you are one of 30 to 40 people in the water. With Wild Side Specialty Tours there are only 10 people per cruise. It is intimate, educational and an absolute WOW experience you have to cross off your bucket list. Let’s go swimming with Dolphins shall we.
It is 7 am and our day is about to begin. Wild Side Specialty Tours sails out of Waianae Boat Harbor which is about a 1 hours drive from Waikiki where we are staying. The adventure begins at 8:30 am sharp and the boat will leave without us if we are late so with a fresh coffee in hand it is time to hit the road.
When we arrive at the Waianae Harbour we quickly gather up our belongings and head to the dock to find our boat called Island Spirit. A crew of three will be with us for the morning on this adventure.
Once we have all checked in Elizabeth immediately begins the safety briefing. How to walk around the Catamaran, proper lifejacket procedures and what to expect from our day on the water. She also asks one question, what do we want to see today? DOLPHINS!
Safety check done we head out on the water. Just a short distance from the harbour is our first stop. Spinner Dolphins rest in the shallow water near Waianae Harbour and it is the perfect spot to swim with them. Before we put 0ur gear on Elizabeth goes through some important tips on how to get the most from the experience.
- Swim with the Dolphins not at them
- Never reach out towards them, keep your hands to your sides as they will spook
- Don’t splash your flippers and make a lot of noise as they will spook and swim away.
With that, we are ready to begin swimming with Dolphins. Gently we all enter the water and follow Elizabeth as she guides us to the best locations to see the Dolphins. Keep your face under water. That is where the magic happens she advises, and she isn’t wrong. I left my camera on the boat so I could enjoy this experience 100% in the moment. Watch this video clip which is almost exactly what I experienced many times.
Other snorkel tours are starting to arrive and with the addition of other snorkelers the Dolphins are harder to spot so we climb back onto Island Spirit and sail off to our next destination, the Green Sea Turtle Spa. Not its real name just what everyone calls it.
Once again Wild Side has gotten us to the location before any other tour groups, so we have the entire reef to ourselves. Well, us and a few thousand fish and Turtles anyway. Back into our gear, we enter the water with our guides and swim for at least an hour.
Swimming with our guides is a new experience and one I really like. With their knowledge and familiarity of the reef, they can point out a wide variety of fish and explain what we are seeing. We not only found NEMO but we saw dozens of different types of fish and at least ten Green Sea Turtles.
We discovered why they nicknamed this reef and area the Turtle Spa. Every turtle we saw had fish all over them eating the bacteria from their shells. It really is a place where the turtles can come in for a good body scrub. Sorry, no photos as I left my camera on the boat.
It is time to return to Waianae Boat Harbour. I think I’ve been in the water for almost 1.5 hours. Swimming with Dolphins, Turtles, and more fish than I can count is exhilarating. I was glad I brought a Crunchy Peanut Butter CLIF Bar to replenish my energy. Lunch is included on this adventure, and it consisted of Kahlua Pork Sliders, Potato Salad, and fresh fruit.
Along the sail back to the harbour our guides drop an underwater mike into the water. Hoping we can pick up some whale songs and maybe spot a Hunchback. No such luck on this return voyage, but that is ok. It was a pretty spectacular morning in my opinion.
What I appreciate about Wild Side Specialty Tours is their passion for what they do and their respect for the Ocean and the creatures that call it home. You can go on a snorkel tour with 30 to 40 other people and have a nice time, or you can be 1 of 10 with Wild Side and get an education and personal attention. Sign me up for Wild Side any day of the year.