Hawaii Nautical - Ko Olina Afternoon Dolphin Snorkel Sail
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Schedule and Tour details are located at the bottom of this page
Wanna know what it's really like to go on a Dolphin Snorkel Sail? Read on...
The Ko Olina Cat is a beautiful sleek 53-foot catamaran run by the Hawaii Nautical company. Tours leave out of the very exclusive Ko Olina Marina and stop at the best snorkel and dive locations on the Waianae coastline.
I can honestly say the one-on-one attention aboard the Ko Olina Cat is the best on the island so it’s not hard for me to find an ‘excuse’ to make another reservation for one of their great Dolphin Snorkel Sails.
The day of my trip, I arrive at Ko Olina Marina to find Captain Todd Haylett greeting the other guests on the dock. Captain Todd is an expert at sailing Oahu’s western coastline and knows all the best snorkeling spots.
I board the Ko Olina Cat to the smiles of the crew, Jay and Gardenia. The first thing you notice about this tour is it doesn’t feel like one. The genuine aloha of Jay and Gardenia makes me feel like I’m sailing with friends. These guys know how to treat a guest!
After a short orientation and safety briefing, the crew unties the mooring ropes and Captain Todd maneuvers us into the blue Pacific Ocean.
Jay and Gardenia are already bringing us our favorite beverages as we stretch out on the spacious deck in the warm Hawaiian sun.
We’re on our way to my favorite snorkeling spot on Oahu - Kahe Point, and I can’t wait! Kahe Point is nicknamed, Electric Beach because of the electric power plant located nearby. The electric plant outflows clean warm water through two giant cooling pipes offshore. The warm water attracts scores of sea life.
Electric Beach is known for its clear blue water, abundant fish, and its most famous inhabitant… Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Hawaiian spinner dolphins like to rest in shallow, calm water during the day, and Electric Beach fits the bill perfectly.
As we approach Kahe Point, Captain Todd’s keen eyes spot a dolphin pod and glides our catamaran into shallower water to take a look. I move to the bow of the boat to get a better look as the dolphins methodically break the surface to breathe. Gardenia takes the opportunity to educate us on Hawaiian spinner dolphin behavior as we watch them swim in lazy circles.
Suddenly, the whole pod dives below the surface and disappears. As we sigh in disappointment the dolphins re-surface, this time encircling our boat!
From my experience spinner dolphins are very curious, and this pod is no different as they swim and play just feet away. Cameras click as they swim alongside us, in front of us, and even under us. We're all very impressed.
I look back at the helm and see Captain Todd smiling. You can tell he gets a kick out of seeing his guests happy.
It’s time to let the dolphins get back to resting and the captain turns us toward our snorkeling spot.
Hawaii Nautical’s mooring (anchor spot) is adjacent to the warm-water pipe openings. You couldn’t ask for better parking; talk about convenient! A few kicks from the boat and we’ll be right over the best snorkeling on Oahu.
We pull up to our mooring and Captain Todd gives us a briefing on the snorkeling area. He and Gardenia also give a short ‘snorkeling 101’ class for the beginners in our group.
By the way, with Hawaii Nautical we don’t have to worry about who was using our snorkel before us; we each get a brand new snorkel to take home with us as a souvenir of today’s trip.
Its time to go snorkeling and I can’t wait to get into the water. I put on my mask, slip on my fins, and slide into the sea.
The first moments in the warm Hawaiian ocean is something more akin to flying than snorkeling. The water is so clear, the blue tint of the ocean is my only reminder that there’s actually water between me and the sandy bottom.
My eyes slowly take in the underwater view and I realize I’m surrounded by tiny, curious fish floating around me like constellations of stars. Schools of yellow and red goatfish search the sand with their tiny whiskers for a tasty crab. Black striped sergeant fish bustle over the coral that’s covering the pipes, trying to look busy. A pair of graceful flippers catches my eye as a Hawaiian green sea turtle comes into view, swimming up to see the strange new comer to the neighborhood.
The more playful fish tumble as they swim into the warm current out-flowing from the pipes. Like a game they quickly turn around and swim back for another round of somersaults. I wonder if fish get dizzy?
Even through the silence of the water I can sense the enthusiasm of my fellow snorkelers. They point in all directions, excitedly gesturing about the exotic marine life.
Back on the boat, Gardenia has laid out a great lunch of roast beef and turkey sandwiches, cookies, chips, cheeses, and vegetables for dipping. Eventually, we all trickle back to the boat to eat and enjoy the warm deck.
The afternoon winds begin to pick up speed making for perfect sailing conditions. Captain Todd wants to take full advantage and heads our sleek sailboat north to tour the beautiful Waianae coastline.
We sail with the breeze in our faces, sipping tropical drinks, and improving our tans. I used to wonder what it was like to own a yacht? I don’t have to anymore. This is the life!
Oh yeah, speaking of tropical drinks, the Ko Olina Cat has a full bar onboard and makes a delicious rum concoction called the Catatonic. All I can say is don’t miss it! The exotic tropical flavors make the whole Hawaiian sailing experience complete!
As I talk Gardenia into revealing the secret Catatonic recipe, we reach the furthest point north on our tour. The captain turns the wheel, adjusts the rigging, and our boat begins to swing south.
The wind is now at our backs and the sails instantly bellow to life. The boat lurches forward and we’re off! If sailboats were cars, the Ko Olina Cat is a Ferrari. The dark turquoise water races by as we slice effortlessly through the waves. This boat was built to fly!
On my last trip aboard the Ko Olina Cat, another sailboat was alongside us on our way back to the marina. Captain Todd peered at the boat then turned to us and said, “When you’re alone, it’s called sailing… when there’s another boat, it’s called racing!” We laughed and braced ourselves for the fun!
He tightened the rigging lines and adjusted the sails, coaxing a few more knots out of our craft. The other boat had the same idea and increased speed trying to gain a lead. We both sped toward our impromptu finish line - the marina buoys.
In the end, they were no match for the sailing skills of our captain as we edged ahead and crossed the harbor buoy first! We cheered and waved to our competitor in smug victory!
There is no racing today but the sail home is just as beautiful.
Ko Olina marina is slowly coming into view and I’ve had another great day sunning, snorkeling, and sailing. As we glide up to the dock, I overhear a couple saying they wish this trip wasn’t coming to an end – obviously they had as much fun as I did!
After riding every snorkeling tour on the island, I can honestly tell you, Hawaii Nautical is the best full service snorkel sail on Oahu. These guys know how to spoil a guest!
Tours fill quickly. Book your Afternoon Dolphin Snorkel Sail at the top of this page now!
Schedule and Tour Details
Schedule: Daily; 1:00PM – 4:00PM; 3 hours total
Boat: Ko Olina Cat; 53-foot sailing catamaran
Departs: Ko Olina Marina (map and directions)
Check in: In front of the Ko Olina Marina Store no later than 15 minutes before departure time (map and directions)
Details: This trip emphasizes snorkeling and sailing for those looking for a more active adventure. This excursion starts with snorkeling at an offshore reef and resting ground for Hawaiian spinner dolphins and green sea turtles. The in-the-water time is longer on this trip than on the morning sail and there's more time for beginning snorkelers to receive instruction from the helpful crew. Snorkeling observation of dolphins depends on dolphin behavior and is at the captain's discretion. Then it’s off sailing the blue waters of the leeward coast on the fast and stable Ko Olina Cat. Those seeking a more adventurous ride can enjoy the spray from the warm blue water when seated in the nets at the front of the boat.
Includes light lunch (roast beef, turkey, or ham sandwiches, chips, cookies, whole fruit), juice, soda, water, and 2 free alcoholic drinks per adult (beer, wine, basic bar, and Ko Olina Cat's special mixed tropical drink the catatonic). Additional drinks may be purchased.
Fare: Adults: $104.50, Children (4-11 yrs): $79.50, Children (3 yrs and under): free; children under 3 yrs of age must be counted in passenger total to comply with Coast Guard regulations.
Ko Olina resort pick-ups: JW Marriott Ihilani pick-up is 45 minutes before tour departure time in front of the shuttle stop located across from the spa. Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club pick-up is 30 minutes before tour departure time at the Kona Tower bell desk.
No Waikiki pick-up available for Afternoon Dolphin Snorkel Sail.
Tours fill quickly. Book your Afternoon Dolphin Snorkel Sail at the top of this page now!
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