There’s no doubt about it; dolphins are terrifically fun animals to watch. Films like “Blackfish” have raised awareness about the “animal entertainment” industry, questioning the wisdom of keeping marine mammals in captivity.
But on Oahu, there’s a guilt free way to have a dolphin encounter: a cruise aboard the “Dolphin Star.”
The “Dolphin Star” offers Oahu’s Eco-Friendly Cruise for Dolphin Lovers with their dolphin-watching tours, off the coast of Wai’anae. If you don’t want to drive to the harbor yourself, there’s a transportation option (for an additional fee), taking you to Wai’anae Boat Harbor in a comfortable coach.
The two-deck, 65-foot vessel has plenty of room, seating, and shade. Once the boat leaves the harbor, head outside on the wrap around decks to secure a good spot for dolphin viewing. Dolphins are plentiful around Hawaii, and sightings are guaranteed; if by chance the cruise doesn’t find any dolphins, guests can get a “dolphin check” for a future cruise.
It doesn’t take long for the captain to find dolphins. Unlike tours where you swim with dolphins, where the animals tend to swim off once the tour group gets in the water, on a dolphin watching tour you’ll find they hang around in your vicinity a lot longer. The captain makes announcements when dolphins are seen, but if you’re on deck you’ll be well aware if any dolphins are around, as the passengers themselves call out with excitement when a dolphin is spotted. If they’re feeling especially frisky, you’ll see them leap out of the water, and, if it’s a spinner dolphin, leaping and spinning. Have your camera ready!
There are two cruises a day, and the afternoon cruise offers a snorkeling option. When the dolphin watching is done, you’re taken to another spot where you get to plunge beneath the waves and see a variety of fish and large turtles. One of the crew will take a group on a snorkel tour of the area; you’ll be expected to keep up with the group, so if you’d rather have a more leisurely time in the water, skip the tour and stay near the boat. No need to bring any snorkel gear; they provide it. Refreshments are also offered after snorkeling, including a sweet cocktail.
There’s also a lunch option, with freshly grilled burgers served up, along with potato chips and dessert. Even if you don’t have lunch, be sure to take advantage of the free ginger pills the crew passes out, to help alleviate seasickness.
This is a great tour for families Kids will love seeing the dolphins, and there are plenty of crew members on hand to ensure that the snorkeling time is safe. There are also a number of special discounts for children offered throughout the year; check the website for the latest news.
And anyone who’s interested in observing dolphins in their native habitat won’t be disappointed either. The Dolphin Star is Oahu’s Eco-Friendly Cruise for Dolphin Lovers. If you’re a dolphin fan, you may be inclined to hop on board more than once — for the experience will be different each time.
WHEN TO VISIT OAHU
There is no bad time to visit any of the Hawaiian Islands as far as finding beautiful weather. The temperature typically varies from 68°F to 87°F on the island of Oahu. You’ll find days are mostly warm or hot with cooler evenings. Oahu is known for quick bursts of rain, but rarely will it ruin a day on the island. The best time to visit Oahu is from mid-April to early June or between September and mid-December. During these shoulder seasons, attractions are less crowded, festivals are plentiful and airfare and room rates are at their lowest.
If you enjoyed this article about Oahu’s Eco-Friendly Cruise for Dolphin Lovers, you’ll also love The 52 Supernatural Places of Oahu.
Traveling To Oahu Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Oahu’s major airport is in Honolulu (airport code HNL). It’s by far Hawaii’s largest airport and hub. If you aren’t arriving by cruise ship, this is how you’ll arrive to Oahu.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Oahu Hawaii. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Finally, for a budget hotel, try the Shoreline Hotel Waikiki. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Oahu Hotel Rates.
What to pack: The weather is tropical on the Hawaiian Islands with lovely northeasterly trade winds. Dress is smart-casual on Oahu, but do bring a light sweater or wrap. Water shoes, sunscreen a sun hat and a great guide to Oahu are a must!
Oahu Hawaii Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Oahu, Hawaii Vacation
- Get the Fodor’s Oahu: with Honolulu, Waikiki & the North Shore (Full-color Travel Guide).
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Oahu beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are hot in Oahu, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- You will find mosquitos on Oahu, especially if you do some hiking, so bring mosquito repellent – I like the pre-moistened towelettes, which are very convenient for packing and carrying with you. They’re convenient and don’t leave a sticky or oily residue.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Water shoes are a great item to pack for any beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Read More About Hawaii
Five Off-the-Beaten-Path Places on Hawaii’s Big Island
Oahu’s Kamehameha Loop
The 52 Supernatural Places of Oahu
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Gillian Gaar has written about music, entertainment, pop culture, and travel for numerous outlets, including Mojo, Rolling Stone, the Seattle Times, and Mapquest, among others. Her favorite destinations include Hawaii and London, and she loves seeking out Elvis sites in Memphis, Beatles sites in Liverpool, and grunge sites all over the Pacific Northwest. She is the author of 16 books and was a contributor to “The Stranger Guide to Seattle.”