Visitors to Hawaii frequently see dolphins from shore or on a whale-watching cruise or fishing boat. Visitors sometimes happen to be in the water snorkeling or kayaking when a pod of dolphins swims by. Some visitors even seek out dolphins, either by frequenting areas where dolphins live and play, like Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island, or by taking a boat tour that frequents areas where dolphins live and play.
If however, you would like to guarantee up-close dolphin interaction you can pay for the privilege at three places in Hawaii.
1. Dolphin Quest on the Big Island
Children 5 years and up can participate. Several programs to choose from.
No actual 'swimming' with dolphins. The Dolphin Quest Program on the Big Island is located at the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. You do not have to be a guest at the hotel to participate in or watch the dolphin programs. The program includes dolphin trivia and facts, close up examination the program's captive dolphin's body parts like teeth and tail, getting to feed the dolphins, being in the water with the dolphins, and watching them underwater with the mask. Each person also gets a few photo opportunities touching or holding a dolphin in different poses.
2. Dolphin Quest on Oahu
Extensive program for kids 5 to 12.
No actual 'swimming' with dolphins. The Oahu program is located at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Although the Oahu and Big Island programs are similar in theme, there are differences. The Oahu program includes many of the same aspects as the Big Island program but here kids also have an opportunity to interact with reef fish and sea turtles. Oahu also offers a program that is half as long and a little less expensive.
3. Sea Life Park on Oahu
If your dolphin is willing, you get to hold onto his/her dorsal fin for a swim.
Out of a 45 minute program, only 15 of it is in the water. Only for ages 13 and up. This program also includes the price of admission to Sea Life Park. It features a lot of in-depth dolphin facts and some close up dolphin interaction, plus 15 minutes in the water with the dolphins. Pictures are also available.
Lisa Weber lives on the Big Island of Hawaii and runs a Hawaii Travel website at Oahu, Hawaii