Dolphin Experience and Snorkeling with Ali’i Ocean Tours

Hawaii’s sea life is amazing and we love to explore it every chance we get! On our recent trip to Hawaii (Big) Island, we took a tour to encounter dolphins and snorkel with Ali’i Ocean Tours in Kailua-Kona.

The tour starts from Honokohau Marina, just north of the heart of Kailua-Kona town. The tour boat, the Hoku ‘Elima, is rather small compared to the usual catamaran tours that we normally do, but the 38-footer is quick and agile, which we discover was necessary for getting into position to observe the dolphins.

The helpful staff instructed us how we would need to be quick to get off the boat and to be calm in the water. Within minutes of leaving the marina, we started to see signs of dolphins. We’d stop at one point, quickly get off the boat and hope to see dolphins swim by. We’d reposition and repeat the process about four or so times. Sometimes we’d see dolphins swim nearby. At some stops, we wouldn’t see dolphins at all. That was all part of the excitement and adventure.

When we did see the dolphins, they were amazing. They move through the water so quickly. In fact, they swam through so quickly that each encounter was rather brief at less than a minute.

At one stop, we saw several dolphins. One of them seemed especially curious and came in closer to take a look at Andy. He captured that on the GoPro camera, which you can see in our short video:

In addition to the dolphins that we saw when we were in the water, we also saw many others from the boat. Several dolphins swam alongside the boat much to our delight.

For the next part of the tour, we traveled south down to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park where we had time to snorkel at this excellent spot.

Overall, this tour was good with several amenities provided including sunscreen, towels, snorkel gear, breakfast and lunch. For more opinions about this tour, see this link to TripAdvisor.

I mentioned earlier that the boat was fast and nimble. With the speed, the ride was not quite as enjoyable as what we’ve experienced on a catamaran. So, that’s something to keep in mind, especially if you are prone to seasickness.

The Morning Dolphin Experience and Reef Snorkel Tour was two tours combined into one — the dolphin observation in Kailua Bay and the snorkel down in Kealakekua Bay.

With taxes and fees, we paid nearly $200 per person. Check their website for updated pricing.

For a few more of our photos, see this link. Our video provides a much better overview of this tour.

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