West Side Dolphin and Whale 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 the Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail? Read on...
The Honi Olani is a beautiful 53ft luxury catamaran departing from Kapolei Harbor and touring the exotic West Oahu coastline.
I can honestly say the one-on-one attention aboard this tour is the best on the island so it’s not hard for me to find an ‘excuse’ to make another reservation for their great West Side Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail.
The day of my trip, I arrive at Kapolei Harbor to find Captain Todd Haylett greeting the other guests on the dock. Captain Todd is a veteran of Oahu’s western coastline and knows all the best snorkeling spots.
I board the Honi Olani to the smiles of the crew, Jay and Gardenia. The first thing you notice about this tour is it doesn’t feel like one. Their genuine aloha 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. We watch them swim in lazy circles 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.
If this had been humpback whale season, mid November to mid April, we would have gone whale watching as well.
It’s time to let the dolphins get back to resting and the captain turns us toward our snorkeling spot. The Honi Olani'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, you don't have to worry about who was using your snorkel before you; everyone gets their own brand new snorkel to take home as a souvenir of your 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 covering the pipes. 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, the crew 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 Honi Olani 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 Honi Olani is a Ferrari. The dark turquoise water races by as we slice effortlessly through the waves.
On my last trip aboard the Honi Olani, 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 harbor 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.
Kapolei Harbor 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, The West Side Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail is the best full service snorkel sail on Oahu. These guys know how to spoil a guest!
** Update: The West Side Dolphin Snorkel Sail has recently been improved!! **
In order to add even more value:
* The tour has been extended from three hours to four hours long - that's a whole hour extra to spend sailing, snorkeling, spotting dolphins, and watching whales (whale season is mid December to mid April)
* Another meal has been added - now you get a continental breakfast in addition to the already great lunch
* If you are staying in Waikiki there is a new FREE catamaran ferry from Waikiki to Kapolei Harbor giving you even more time on the warm Hawaiian ocean and helping you avoid morning traffic
The above is in addition to the already great perks like:
* Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages and snacks
* Two FREE alcoholic drinks per adult to the on board bar. And for additional drinks, you won't find a cheaper bar in Hawaii.
* All your snorkeling gear is provided (you even get to keep the brand new snorkel as a souvenir of your trip).
Schedule and Details _____________________________________
Time: Monday thru Friday; 9:15AM – 1:15PM; 4 hours total
Boat: Honi Olani; 53-foot luxury sailing catamaran
Departs: Kapolei Harbor (map and directions)
Check in: No later than 15 minutes before departure time on the right-hand side of the Kapolei Harbor parking lot. (map and directions)
Amenities: Includes continental breakfast and a picnic style 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). Additional drinks may be purchased with cash.
Special online discount rate: Adults: $114.00, Children (4-11 yrs): $74.00, Children (3 yrs and under): free. Children under 3 yrs of age must be counted in passenger total to comply with Coast Guard regulations.Transportation: Free transportation is available from most major Waikiki hotels and Ko Olina Resort hotels.
From Waikiki to Kapolei Harbor via the catamaran ferry: A shuttle van will pick you up from your hotel lobby and take you to the Waikiki ferry dock. Shuttle pick up is between 7:00AM to 7:30AM, the exact time will be given to you after your reservation is made and your specific hotel is determined. The catamaran ferry ride is approx 1 hour long from Waikiki to Kapolei Harbor. The return trip back to your Waikiki hotel is via shuttle van. There is limited seating for the ferry and availability is on a first come first served basis - please make your reservation early.
From Ko Olina Resort hotels via shuttle van: JW Marriott Ihilani pick-up is 30 minutes before tour departure time in front of the shuttle stop located across from the Ihilani spa. Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club pick-up is 30 minutes before tour departure time at the Kona Tower bell desk. Shuttle van pick up from the Ko Olina Resorts is recommended.
Book your dream Hawaiian Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail at the top of this page now!
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