When I was in my travel month after working as an Au Pair, I was most excited about the prospect of finally swimming with the dolphins on the Big Island of Hawaii. I’d wanted to do it for years in New Zealand, but you know how it goes-often you never do that sort of stuff in your own country. Plus that water is cold, and I’d have to wear a wet-suit.
So Hawaii it was. I was desperate to swim with the famous spinner dolphins on the Big Island, and finally cross it off my bucket list. My goal was to swim with them in the wild, both for the experience and my wallet, but after a week of going to all the spots where the locals assured me that I’d see them and having no luck whatsoever, I finally booked myself a dolphin swim with a company called Dolphin Discoveries.
Why Dolphin Discoveries? Well to be honest it was because of this video at the bottom of their website:
It’s pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and after watching it I decided I’d go with those guys. Show me an adorable animal video and I’m sold. It’s that easy.
I arrived at the meeting spot half an hour early, and very excited. There were around fifteen other tourists waiting to leave, and we chatted as we waited for everyone to get signed in. Eventually we boarded, and I immediately wished I had taken some sea sickness pills as we bounced along with waves.
The captain went through a list of rules as we were given our snorkels and flippers. No touching the dolphins as we can give them diseases, stick a hand up if we need help, and if we need to boot, do it over the side of the boat.
We found one pod of around twenty dolphins, and jumped into the water. I’m not the greatest in open water (a slight shark fear), but I’m a decent swimmer and I soon got over my fear as I watched the dolphins streak beneath us. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t hang around, but we dragged ourselves back into the boat and took off again.
The captain was communicating with around four other boats in the water (from other companies), and they let the others know when there were dolphin sightings so that everyone got to see them.
As we were heading towards another boat the captain pointed out three dolphins swimming by themselves. They were larger than the spinner dolphins and covered in spots. He told us that they were making the spinner dolphins nervous, which was making them swim so fast.
Eventually we came across a pod of around one hundred dolphins. They like to swim in the wake of the bigger boats, so one of the boats had stopped so we could come find them. This time I was the first one out of the boat, and I choked on a mouthful of seawater as I realized just how many dolphins there were. It was amazing to see them all swim as one, changing direction and coming up for air at the same time.
I followed them as they made a huge circle around the boat, and I felt so peaceful in that moment I can barely describe it. They were so graceful, spinning and jumping above the waves, and there were even a few babies who kept close to their mothers.
As I was swimming the three spotted dolphins came up beside me-close enough to touch. While I will admit to a small amount of fear (they were pretty big), I was in awe of them as they danced in the sea.
Finally the dolphins started to stay close to the bottom of the ocean, barely going up for air. This means that they’re getting ready to sleep, so we left them alone and they took us to my favorite spot on the Big Island Captain Cook Monument. I was pleasantly surprised with the opportunity to snorkel here again, and without the horrible hike this time!
Around lunch time we climbed back on the boat and were given cookies, fruit, and cheese and crackers. I ate the best pineapple I’ve ever tasted, and it’s ruined me for all other pineapple. It melted in my mouth and was incredibly sweet and juicy. I ate like a pig.
I had a great time swimming with the dolphins, and I’d definitely like to do it again sometime. I can’t recommend Dolphin Discoveries enough. They were professional, fun, and truly care about the dolphins, going out of their way to teach us about these beautiful animals. I paid $120 including tax, and I would have paid twice that for such an amazing experience.