Swim With Dolphins in Hawaii: Into The Blue Kona Snorkel Adventure Review

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If there is one thing that you should know about us it is that we are drawn to Hawaii like magnets.

We first experienced the magic of Hawaii in June 2016 on a post college graduation trip (that we got for free using airline miles) where Jeremy asked me to marry him on Kaanapali Beach at sunset.

We quickly fell in love with the islands and headed back the following year for a relaxing week long vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. Fast forward to 2018 and we and we are back yet again to celebrate our honeymoon.

Given we could not stop raving about the Big Island of Hawaii and posting pictures by the dozen on Instagram β€” we somehow convinced our family that Hawaii should be the next destination of our 2019 family vacation! πŸ˜‰

Some family friends were in Hawaii a few weeks prior to our trip and mentioned that we must embark on a snorkel excursion to swim with wild dolphins. They ended up swimming with hundreds of wild dolphins and even encountered a whale shark!

We took them up on their recommendation and here is what we have to say about our dolphin and reef adventure with Into the Blue - Kona Snorkel Adventures:   

20+ foot Whale Shark off the coast of Kona, Hawaii.

20+ foot Whale Shark off the coast of Kona, Hawaii.


What we review in this post:

  • Booking

  • Check In

  • Boat Overview

  • Out on the Water

  • On-Site Food and Drink

  • Customer Service Rating

  • Our Final Take: Should You Book an Excursion with Into the Blue?


Booking

You can book tours online through TripAdvisor or directly through the Into the Blue website.

There are four tour options available β€” we opted for the snorkel with dolphins tour at 7 am.

Pro tip: To save a few extra dollars, consider the ride along tour. We had just has much fun laying on the bow of the boat riding above the dolphins as they swam by!

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Check In

The excursion departs out of Honokohau Harbor at 7am and 10am (weather permitting). We chose the early 7am time slot given it was mid February and it had been quite windy during our stay.

Give yourself at least 45 minutes if you are driving from the Kohala Coast (we stayed at the Hapuna Beach Hotel) and about 10-15 minutes if you are making the closer trek from Kona.

We met Chase (the owner and captain) in the marina parking lot before embarking on the boat. He arrived on time and gave us a warm welcome.

What to Bring

  • Towels

  • Bathing suit

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Hat

  • Sweatshirt

  • Camera/GoPro

Included in the tour: Snorkel gear (mask and fins), life jackets and flotation devices (heavy duty pool noodles)

Honokohau Harbor is the departure location for the dolphin and reef adventure.

Honokohau Harbor is the departure location for the dolphin and reef adventure.

Boat Overview

The boat is a power catamaran that comfortably fits six people β€” although it does look small at first glance.

There are two seats in the back next to the motor. These seats are the most stable on the boat and ideal for those who may get seasick.

Two additional seats can be found in front of the captains chair where Jeremy and I decided to hunker down.

Finally there is a β€œU” shaped bench at the bow of the boat that can comfortably sit up to five people during the cruise.

There are plenty of seats on the boat. The smoothest ride is in the back of the boat for those who may get sea sick.

There are plenty of seats on the boat. The smoothest ride is in the back of the boat for those who may get sea sick.

Five of us fit comfortably on the β€œU” shaped bench at the bow of the boat as we searched for dolphins.

Five of us fit comfortably on the β€œU” shaped bench at the bow of the boat as we searched for dolphins.

Out on the Water

After boarding the boat we were quickly on our way out of the harbor and into the open ocean searching for a pod of dolphins.

Within a 20 minute ride up the western coast of the island we encountered our first pod of dolphins!

Chase quickly fit us with our snorkel gear β€” there were plenty of fin sizes and snorkel masks to go around β€” and before we knew it we were jumping in the water to catch the dolphins.

Pro tip: If you are not a strong swimmer or do not want to tread for a long period of time in the water, ask to use a noodle. The noodle will rest under your stomach and keep you afloat as you snorkel along.

The moment we got in the water and looked down through our masks we could see hundreds of dolphins. We could also hear them! It was incredible to see and swim with dolphins swimming in the wild. Chase reminded us not to touch the dolphins as they are a protected species.

The dolphins were docile and majestic as we swam along in harmony. Chase did a great job of directing us towards the dolphins whenever they were on the move.

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Wild spinner dolphins off the Western Shore of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Wild spinner dolphins off the Western Shore of the Big Island of Hawaii.

The water was a bit chilly at 7am, so bring extra towels and a sweatshirt for when you dry off. After about an hour of snorkeling with the dolphins we hopped back into the boat to warm up. As we were laying on the bow of the boat to dry off, dolphins started swimming along side us. Five of us laid on our stomachs with our heads hanging off the front to get a closer look.

We cruised along the cove like this for 30 minutes and it was honestly one of the highlights of the excursion. It felt like you were swimming right along side the dolphins. They would come up for air right along side the boat and put on a show by leaping out of the water.

Five of us laying on the bow to dry off when dolphins began to swim along side the boat.

Five of us laying on the bow to dry off when dolphins began to swim along side the boat.

After about an hour and a half with the dolphins, Chase gathered everyone and we took a short 10 minute boat ride south to our next destination.

We stopped at a protected coral reef. Again we jumped in the water with our mask and fins and saw amazing sights.

The snorkeling was absolutely stunning. The water was quite calm and crystal clear. There were plenty of places to explore within the cove and hundreds of tropical fish to admire. The species diversity was absolutely astonishing here.

We’ve snorkeled in amazing places like Molokini Crater and Bora Bora, and this topped it!

Jeremy’s parents agreed that this snorkel location may have been the best they have ever seen β€” and they have snorkeled in countless reefs around the world.

Pit stop for snorkeling at a protected coral reef along the coast.

Pit stop for snorkeling at a protected coral reef along the coast.

Hundreds of tropical fish in the crystal clear water at the second snorkel destination.

Hundreds of tropical fish in the crystal clear water at the second snorkel destination.

On-site Food and Drink

Once we were all snorkeled out, Chase offered us some lunch:

  • Turkey and cheese croissant sandwiches

  • SunChips

  • Fresh pineapple

  • Soft drinks and water

Customer Service Rating

Chase was an excellent guide and captain. He was extremely knowledgeable about the marine life and the Hawaiian Islands. He is definitely a laid back guy and wants everyone to have a good time.

On the way back to the harbor he made sure to stop of a sea cave and take a group photo!

Sea cave on the way back to the harbor β€” Chase was happy to capture a family photo!

Sea cave on the way back to the harbor β€” Chase was happy to capture a family photo!

Jeremy and I took advantage of the photo op :)

Jeremy and I took advantage of the photo op :)

Chase got us back to the harbor right on time.

He went the extra mile and even walked us up to his truck and provided everyone with a free Into the Blue t-shirt. Chase really went above and beyond to ensure that everyone had a good time and got the most out of the excursion.

Our Final Take

If you are visiting the Big Island, the dolphin and reef adventure is a must.

You are pretty much guaranteed to swim with wild spinner dolphins and the customer service is extraordinary.

So, what is our final take?

Yes, we highly recommend this excursion for adventure lovers looking to take part in all that the Big Island has to offer.



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