Traveling with Stephy

Swimming with wild dolphins in the open sea: amazing experience!

Have you ever dreamed of swimming with wild dolphins in the open sea? If so, the Hawaiian islands are the ideal place for it! Here is everything you need to know to cross out this unforgettable and unique adventure off your bucket list!

The Hawaiian coasts are a permanent home to four species: the Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the spinner dolphin, which are the most common around the islands, as well as the spotted dolphin and the rough-tooth dolphin.

Spinner dolphins (which are the ones we mainly saw) are easily recognizable by their acrobatic behavior, like spinning rapidly before landing with a splash. They can even jump up to 3 meters (9,8 feet) above the water. How amazing is that? Moreover, groups of such species can number in the hundreds or even thousands! We had the chance to swim in the middle of a large pod which was indescribable. 

Compared to the others species mentioned, spinner dolphins are smaller with a length of approximately 2 meters (7 feet) and a weight of 80 kg (176 pounds). Their gestation lasts about 11 months and babies stay with their mother for between 3 to 8 years! The average lifespan is about 17 years (hopefully it can be longer especially if we take care of our oceans more)!

Finally, did you know that dolphins sleep about 8 hours but not continuously, only for a couple of hours at a time? You are probably now wondering how can they sleep underwater, right? Super smart, they shut down half of their brain and the opposite eye. Consequently, they can go back to the surface to breathe thanks to the other half still awake.

swimming with wild dolphins
spinner dolphins

Where to swim with wild dolphins in the hawaiian waters?

The Hawaiian islands are without a doubt well-known for their unique ocean fauna! Above all, the archipelago is the best place to spot wild dolphins in the open sea. Indeed, large groups of different dolphins live permanently along its coasts. 

However, one place above all others stands out: the West coast of the Big Island. In fact, in addition, to being able to observe dolphins easily from the coasts, you can readily snorkel with them. More specifically, as dolphins are creatures of habits, they have 4 famous resting grounds:

  • Kauhako Bay
  • Makako Bay
  • Honaunau Bay
  • Kealakekua Bay

In summary, the Big island is the perfect location if you want to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with wild dolphins! Click here to see what others things you can do on this volcanic island.

“And remember, you are in their home, so respect them, don’t touch them nor feed them. Thanks!”
swimming with wild dolphins
dolphin's family close-up
swimming with wild dolphins
swimming with wild dolphins

Our experience with wild dolphins on big island

Alright, so I don’t know where to start. I remember these two days (yes, we went twice!) like it was yesterday and I know it will stay in my mind forever. The big Island was our last stop during our Hawaiian trip and we were so excited for new adventures to come! We mainly decided to add this island to our journey of its unique ocean fauna. 

We booked a swimming tour with SunlightOnWater and my husband and I got the most amazing time ever! It was a sunny day and the meeting was early in the morning. We were only a few people on the boat, which made the experience even more unique.

As the dolphins are wild and free, you can never know if you will be lucky enough to spot them. During that day, we probably cruised more than an hour before the magic happened… We were looking everywhere to spot dolphins and we were so excited, you couldn’t imagine! Suddenly, the captain stopped the boat and told us to gear up with no explanation. We were all ready to get in, waiting for the green light from the captain

It was time to experience the best day of our life! Once in the water, we could hear the whistles of the dolphins quickly approaching. I felt immediately so emotional. And then, I saw them appearing in front of us. There were hundreds of them! When I lifted my head from the water, I could see so many spines and jumps coming directly towards us. Frankly, I will never be able to put the right words on what we experienced that day. It was a dream come true!

We had the chance to swim with them for long minutes. They were so playful, and even mothers with their babies came close to us. I remember that particular moment when my eyes met those of a dolphin, for seconds we were connected. At that time, my heart was full of love! Trust me, it is a very special feeling to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by hundreds of dolphins whistling. 

We had such a blast that day that as soon as we had disembarked, we booked a second tour for the next day.

“I take advantage of this post to remind you that dolphins (among others) should not live in captivity.”


US$ 130 per adult
US$ 95 per child
US$ 70 ride along only

from 7:30 am to 12:00 pm
12 m / 40 ft vessel with hot water
snorkel gear available
water/sodas and various snacks included

swimming with wild dolphins open sea
wild dolphins
wild dolphins
swim with wild dolphins open sea

In conclusion

To summarize, the Hawaiian islands are the best location to check off a spectacular wild experience from your bucket list: swimming with wild dolphins in the middle of the ocean! That is to say, it was a true highlight of our trip. I feel super lucky to have experienced this moment in my life and shared it with my love. Therefore, I sincerely hope you will be able to do it as well someday soon. 

Moreover, you should check out here my posts related to the Hawaiian islands! 

Finally, feel free to reach out to me at any time, if you have any questions. It would be a great pleasure to share with you!

Sending you lots of love, 

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