FAQs 2017-05-18T21:35:19+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the weather like there and what should I wear? 2017-08-30T00:21:14+00:00

The weather is usually moderate year-round, typically ranging from the low 70s to upper 80s.  Summer-type clothing, such as shorts, t-shirts, casual pants and sundresses or sarongs are appropriate almost everywhere in Hawaii.

A hat and polarized sunglasses are also a good idea to protect your face from the sun. And, of course, bring your swimsuit, towel, sunscreen and cameras! No spray-on sunscreen onboard please, overspray can create a safety hazard.

I am committed to getting us on board, but what if something comes up and we can’t make it, or are there any other policies I should be aware of? 2017-08-30T21:31:32+00:00

In short, cancellations made within the 10 days before departure period and “no shows” will be held responsible for the full price. See our Terms and Agreements page for full details.

If we cancel the charter, we will either reschedule or you will be refunded in full. Our first concern is for passenger and vessel safety. Our decisions to go out, cancel, put people in the water (or not), or return to the dock are all carefully considered on an ongoing basis for each and every charter. We will always make our decisions based on “safety first”, and then what is in the best interest of our guests and the marine life. There are occasional instances when the ocean seems okay at the start of the day and then worsens while on the water. If we return to the dock early, a fair compensation will be provided.

Any requests to be changed from a confirmed date will be subject to a 15% fee of your total rate.

What time do we leave and what is the approximate return time? 2017-09-01T01:58:52+00:00

Half days average 3.5 hours  and check-in for both charters is 8 am. The Best of the West is back to dock by noon, while the Deluxe Wildlife Charter may be back a little earlier.

Due to the nature of our tours (optimal time based on the behaviors of the animals), and courtesy to other guests, it is very important that you are on time .

Where are you located and how do we get there? 2017-05-09T23:22:26+00:00

Find driving directions on our map page.

Due to the limited number of passengers that we take out, we do not provide a shuttle service which would drive up costs for all and force us to go for quantity of passengers vs. the quality of care for our guests and respect for the wildlife realized with small groups.

Our solution,TheBus! We have found the total transportation time to be similar to, or better than the shuttles spending over an hour on hotel pick-ups. Driving time to our Waianae location is about an hour; time on TheBus (from Ala Moana Shopping Center), is about an hour and a half. We can also help form car pools if do-able, especially for the trip back.

TheBus world-class public transit system costs only $5 round-trip (kids are cheaper or free) to anywhere on Oahu, including Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, and the Aloha Swap Meet. A month-long pass is only $60 per person.

While we do know that you can make it to us on time using TheBus, we also have different departure times and different charters. Please get detailed information on your specific bus departure by calling TheBus Information desk at (808) 848-5555 open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., or inquire by email at custserv@thebus.org,

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Location you are starting from (we suggest a $10 taxi to the Ala Moana Shopping Center hub– to eliminate transfer and any waiting time between hotel bus and the “C” Express leaving from Ala Moana ).
  • Your intended destination – the Waianae (said “Y-N-I”) Intermediate School it’s across the street from the Waianae Boat Harbor.
  • Day and Time you need to get there
  • There is also a DaBus Oahu app, check it out, especially if you opt for the month pass! Try this Bus tool also.

If you plan to ride the bus,please let us know, if your arrival time is very similar to our check-in time. We can give you extra leeway to walk the 5-10 minutes or so it takes to cross the street and get to the boat.

Here’s an invaluable review on why you should always rent a car while on Oahu, along with other great information on things to do Check discount rates and reservations for rental cars here or here (it may be worthwhile to make a comparison). We have found that rental prices tend to drop anywhere from 1-4 weeks before travel. The theory is that most people make reservations when they book air and hotel, i.e. months in advance, and never look back. Hence the high rates for advance bookings (this is also true for airfares these days). So I have often found very good prices as trip dates approach. Of course it is always wise to lock a fully-cancelable rate…

What do I need to bring and what are the rates? 2017-05-09T23:20:41+00:00

We provide food, drinks, and snacks – these items are listed on the tour descriptions. You can bring anything you’d like, especially if picky eaters or special diets.

Be fully prepared to guard against sunburn, the sun in the tropics is very intense. There is shade on the boat, but glare reflects right on in .Sunglasses (polarized will give you the optimal experience), hats, towels and cover-ups are needed, even in the shade. It is usually best to put SPF 30+ sunscreen on before you leave your hotel room, and again while on your adventure. No spray-on sunscreens please! They over-spray all over the boat becoming a safety hazard, or land on others who may not be appreciative!

We supply snorkel gear, but our supply of fins are geared for “average” adult sizes. Its fine to bring your own equipment if you have, ensuring you a good fit. If you would like to rent equipment while on the islands, we suggest AquaZone – Scuba Diving and Water sports Center 808-923-343 Outrigger Reef Hotel, bottom floor or Waikiki Beach Marriott Shops.

If bringing your own, pack your mask between your clothes so the lens won’t take a beating by the airline’s luggage handlers. If you are bringing fins, pack them near the outside of your bag. Fins are tough and will help protect the more delicate things in the center.

Catamarans are known for their smooth “cut-through-the water” rides. But if there is any possibility for sea-sickness, you may want to start popping ginger pills about a week before the charter date, and/or use sea-bands. Sea bands are elastic wrist bands that work by acupressure, usually available where you would find other motion sickness remedies. They take about 45 minutes to work so put them on ahead of time…

For those who are prone to sea-sickness, always stay out on the deck, looking at the horizon. Avoid going below deck. Here is an excellent article with lots of alternative suggestions to combat or prevent sea sickness.

Black soles make major scuff marks on boat decks 🙁 But barefeet are fine!

See Rates page for our prices, and please be aware that on top of the quoted price is State tax and harbor fees, and a $5 per person fuel surcharge .

How do I make reservations? 2017-05-09T23:19:01+00:00

Best bet is to purchase online (secure site) as often we are on the water and by booking online we will both have written records, or email us at reservations@sailhawaii.com with your availability, or call 808-306-7273. It is best to reserve as early as possible, as last minute bookings are hard to get and/or plan for. We suggest a couple weeks ahead of time, but will accept bookings up to the night before – if space available. Our cancellation policy guarantees you won’t be charged anything if you cancel at least 10 days prior to your departure day. Gift certificates are available, and a great idea for honeymooners, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, etc.

Is it hard to get in and out of the water? 2017-05-09T20:52:47+00:00

easy on ladderGetting on and off the boat is fairly easy. On the Island Spirit we have a “staircase” type of ladder that we lower down between the pontoons. The angle is adjustable to ease the on/off process for the passengers. Below is a person at the bottom of the ladder looking up into the boat. You can see the angle is quite reasonable for most people. Our other boats have ladders similar to getting out of the deep end of a pool, they are not quite as easy as the ladder below.

Will I get sea sick? 2017-05-09T20:52:01+00:00

Catamarans are known for their smooth “cut-through-the water” rides. But if there is any possibility for sea-sickness, you may want to start popping ginger pills about a week before the charter date, and/or use sea-bands. Sea bands are elastic wrist bands that work by acupressure, usually available where you would find other motion sickness remedies. They take about 45 minutes to work so put them on ahead of time…

For those who are prone to sea-sickness, always stay out on the deck, looking at the horizon. Avoid going below deck. Here is an excellent article with lots of alternative suggestions to combat or prevent sea sickness.

Black soles make major scuff marks on boat decks 🙁 But barefeet are fine!


I don’t want to be shark bait! 2017-05-09T20:50:48+00:00

Did you know that “Jaws” is still rated the #1 scariest movie of all times? This movie has really given sharks a bad rap. Less than one shark attack occurs per year on average in Hawaii. This attack rate is surprisingly low considering that tens of thousands of people swim, surf and dive in Hawaiian waters every day. Despite these statistics, shark attacks remain an emotionally charged topic. Although the odds are mighty slim that you would even see one of the shy, elusive and fast becoming endangered creatures, here’s some tips that may help you feel better.

“Sharks have always been feared since time immemorial and shark attacks can be terrible, but they are few and far between. The media greatly hype shark attacks and few people realize how rare they are… almost anything is more likely to kill human beings than sharks. ” PETER BENCHLEY, author of “Jaws”

However, our ocean is home to sharks, albeit the fearsome predators are usually offshore and not near the areas we frequent. Local residents stress, “Anytime you enter the ocean, you just got lower in the food chain.” This again highlights the reason that we don’t guarantee swimming with dolphins. Imagine we see the dolphins acting somewhat sketchy (shark present?), but we have to consider giving money back, return trips, etc., over your safety?

Are there age limits? 2017-12-10T16:10:32+00:00

We do offer fabulous family adventures, and respectfully experiencing wild dolphins in their own environment may positively influence your child’s future attitude and choices toward wildlife and natural resources.

However, the Best of the West has an age limit of 12 and older, while the recommended age of 7+ on the Deluxe Wildlife Charters are much preferred.

There are always risks involved in being on a boat, and those risks can be higher with an infant or younger child. As parents, we trust that you know and are competent to decide what is appropriate for your child, and are willing to take appropriate risks with their safety.

We strongly suggest that your read over our terms and agreements page, paying particular attention to the sections on inherent risks, and minor children. Please also look at pictures and videos of the boats to see how they are laid out and that your are comfortable with that. Also consider the temperament of your child and that if little one is happy and content, then so will you be. However, if unhappy, so will you and everyone else onboard be. Remember that there is no place to take baby “outside” for a while. While we have had many toddlers who have made our day out on the water, it is not always in the best interest of some. Only you will know if this will be a good experience for yours.

Should you decide to bring baby, we would prefer that you bring a tummy carrier along. It will allow the baby to be secure (and content) with one of you, and will allow your hands to be free to hold on to the boat. We do NOT suggest that you bring a car seat type of carrier or stroller as we have no way to tie it down and it may slide around. It is not a safe method of cradling baby while on the boat.

Toddlers will need to be on a parents lap or within arm’s reach of parent/guardian at all times, including in the water.

Minors under 18 years of age must have a parent or legal guardian present onboard for all activities. Any youth attending a WSST activity as part of a larger function with parents/guardians not in attendance (a soccer team for example), the parents/guardian of the minor child must sign and send a WSST Risk Waiver Form with minor/s

Do we need to be strong swimmers , do you have life jackets, do we need wetsuits? 2017-05-09T20:35:34+00:00

We are land based mammals attempting to be marine mammals, so there is a certain liability inherent in this activity. It is imperative that we be made aware of any medical or physical limitations of members in your party, preferably upon booking.

Due to increased visitation, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have that magical one-on-one experience swimming with the dolphins. Behaviors are showing that with increasing frequency dolphins prefer and are more attentive to boats, then to swimmers in the water.

Your best experience may then be to stay on the boat, where you will be able to see the dolphins and their behaviors better, closer, and for longer amounts of time. Given that the dolphins are also very aware of any predators in the water, this may also be the safest route!

Dolphins are often better viewed from the higher elevation onboard. A few feet above the water can make a big difference, and aerial behaviors (spins, leaps, etc.) are always seen better from that elevation! The clarity of the water will still allow you to look down and effortlessly observe the dolphin’s underwater antics from the deck or lying on the trampolines.

We do require that everyone who gets into the water wear a provided safety belt (the person in the picture at the bottom of the page is wearing one). We require them for safety and visibility (so we can see you). They are only an inch thick and about 3 or 4 inches wide. They do not hinder swimming since they fit around the waist rather than the torso, and water can pass between you and the belt without restricting forward movement.

That said, and if conditions warrant, calm and strong swimmers do seem to have the highest “success” rate with the dolphins. Those people who seem to have “animal sense”; are alert, observant, good at reading body language, and position themselves correctly (requiring less physical effort), also do well.

Dolphins generally avoid people displaying aggressive (“charging”) behavior. There is an art to the method which is often hard to accomplish in the short 1/2 day time span available. If this is your “life dream” you may want to schedule a few trips to ensure (or increase your odds) that this is realized. Private charters will also give you more personalized attention, and less “competition”.

Snorkeling at the reef is much less “rule” or physically intensive and equally enjoyable with the myriads of tropical fish and turtles. Floaters are welcome! We do all we can to make our passengers familiar and comfortable with snorkeling. However, the best bet is to practice snorkeling at home, the hotel pool, or even the bathtub (!) before you come. Your comfort level in the water will increase dramatically.

Because of the high heat output from the body during active swimming (such as with dolphins), a water temperature of 72 to 75°F is acceptable. With a lower level of activity (snorkeling), a water temperature of 75 to 80°F may be desirable. “Our” water is normally around 76-77 degrees in the winter and up to 82 degrees in the summer/fall.

Most people do not need or want wetsuits. However, a rash guard is always a good idea to both protect you from the sun and from any little “stingers” in the water. Wetsuits are also for rent at the boat harbor.

Can I swim with the whales? 2017-05-09T20:28:19+00:00

In most locations including the Hawaiian Islands, swimming with whales is not allowed or encouraged, as whales are not accustomed to people in the water. It is also possible for swimmers to be unintentionally harmed swimmers through sudden movements or flicks of huge whale tails or fins.

Do you guarantee whale and/or dolphin sightings? 2017-05-09T20:27:44+00:00

As we interact with the marine mammals in their wild state, encounters are not 100% certain. We do have sighting rates of 95% of the time.

We feel if we guarantee something (especially something we have no control over like weather or wildlife sightings), then the pressure to make it happen becomes foremost. When meeting the guarantee becomes priority, then safety and providing a quality experience slips out the window. We also feel this is what makes our company unique. Our motto is “Tours with Integrity”, and we do our utmost to uphold that motto, while providing a quality experience. Wild Side adheres to the IWC’s General Principles for Whalewatching to minimise the risks of adverse impacts of whalewatching on cetaceans.

When is the best time of year to see the humpback whales? 2017-05-09T20:27:12+00:00

Here’s the scoop. The humpbacks begin to arrive as early as late October. The population rises as the season progresses as different whales leave Alaska at different times (i.e. lactating females leave last). So although there are many whales in January, the peak population comes a little later (closer to Feb. – March) likewise, the most action/behavior viewing also comes later in the season (the season being mid Dec.- April). Similar to closing time at some bars, males will be giving a last ditch effort to “catch the gals” (no offense guys)!

Can I touch or “ride” the dolphins? 2017-05-09T20:26:17+00:00

Riding or touching dolphins in any manner is unnatural. Touching the animals is not encouraged nor permitted. The dolphin’s sense of touch is much more acute than ours and moreover, the act of reaching out is considered threatening. Attempting to touch the animals will probably frighten them away, bringing to an end the possibility of a wonderful encounter.

“If petting dolphins is what you need to do, you should visit a captive facility (amusement park) where you will be lead to believe that dolphins have chosen to be there to please you, that dolphins like you, that they enjoy being petted being fed dead fish, that they like do all kinds of neat tricks.”

What about taking underwater photographs? 2017-05-09T20:24:31+00:00

There is a very wide choice of underwater cameras, and it’s surprisingly easy to take a good picture with even the cheapest disposable camera if the sun, water visibility and animals all come together at the right moment! Always take shots near to the surface (where the light is brightest), as near to the subject as possible, but don’t let the ‘need’ to get good photographs take over or detract from the experience of actually enjoying your encounter.

Are there any legal restrictions or considerations involved in swimming with dolphins? 2017-05-09T20:24:05+00:00

Different countries have different rules and regulations surrounding cetacean encounters, invariably with the animals’ welfare in mind. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the United States, it is illegal to harass, hunt, capture (where do those captive dolphins come from?), or kill any marine mammal. We strictly adhere to self-regulating our trips (over and above locally-imposed regulations) with additional guidelines that have been designed to protect our guests, the animals and their habitat. Wild Side adheres to the IWC’s General Principles for Whalewatching to minimise the risks of adverse impacts of whalewatching on cetaceans.

Can I feed the dolphins? 2017-05-09T20:12:04+00:00

No, absolutely not. To do so would be to directly interfere with their natural food intake (wild dolphins never eat dead fish), hunting instincts/behavior and their naturally balanced diet.

Is it dangerous to be in the water? 2017-05-09T20:11:21+00:00

Your safety is paramount. There is always someone on the boat (if not also in the water with you) watching those in the water.

All participants are given orientation sessions, to become familiar and comfortable with snorkel equipment and the art of dolphin interactions. It is vital that you inform us of any medical conditions o physical limitations that you or members of your party may have.

Spinner dolphins can move at free will if something upsets them or they do not want to be with us. However, we do not want to create such a cause, and will err on the side of precaution at all times.

We will also not let you in the water if we feel the dolphins behavior is at all “sketchy.” This may mean that they sense threat from a predator. We have learned to follow their advice on this. Other reasons we will stay onboard are if the dolphins are traveling (you can’t beat being on the boat for this!).

Can we SCUBA dive with the dolphins? 2017-05-09T20:10:27+00:00

While we do use , SCUBA diving is not conducted. Bubbles may act as a deterrent, and horizontal swimming with the added equipment becomes slow and cumbersome in the presence of agile dolphins.

What if the dolphins don’t want to swim with people? 2017-05-09T20:09:36+00:00

That’s completely up to the dolphins. Encounters are designed to be at the dolphins pace, on their terms, and at their activity level. It’s not a captive-dolphin swim program, with no choice (likewise it is not a controlled environment). For the dolphins, its stimulating activity. If they’re not enjoying it, we won’t do it.

After almost 20 years of interactions with the resident pod, we have known many of the dolphins since infancy. We know how to read them, and know they will only interact with us if they feel like it. Or more aptly, the better we mimic and follow their lead, the better the encounter.

We limit our encounters to pre-defined areas. That’s sort of like a security blanket for the dolphins. If they move outside of the envelope, we know the encounters are over – we won’t keep at that them.

How long will I be in the water with the dolphins and how long will they stay? 2017-05-09T20:09:00+00:00

Because the dolphins encountered are wild animals, no predictions about their behavior (mood) can be made. They are not depending on us for food or other needs, so it is mostly up to them, but also up to our actions how interesting or benign they find us. They may disappear within a few minutes of entering the water, or they may swim in close proximity until you are too cold or tired to swim anymore. We let the dolphins decide when the swim is over. Please trust our judgment on the best encounters for all.

Meeting a dolphin is a life long dream of mine! Is there some sort of activity where I could interact with wild dolphins outside of a “Sea World” type environment? 2017-05-09T19:30:15+00:00

Ah, nature at her best, wild and free. The spinners dolphins often swim right up to the boat and display their aerial skills, being quite the show-offs. They also like to catch a “free ride” on the bow, often spraying your dangling toes with their blows or splashes.

We believe this is the best experience, the free swimming dolphins join us because they want to, not because they are fed or coerced in any manner. It may also be possible to slip into the water and swim in the midst of them. There is really an art to this (respect for the animals being vital), keeping in mind that we are now on their terms.

If it is important to you to swim with wild dolphins, than please be equally prepared.

Please see our “swim with dolphins” page, regarding outside influences which we cannot control – but will give 110% to make the most of… Please realize that due to these influences and that we never know how long the “dolphin swim window” will be open, TIMING IS CRITICAL. When we approach the dolphins, please be focused, attentive, and economical in your movements. Be responsible for your connection with the dolphins.

It is not realistic to expect to swim alongside wild dolphins unless you know how to swim and snorkel, are physically and mentally prepared, are able to get up the ladder and back on the boat, and are potentially able to swim a hundred+ yards at a steady pace.

The more comfortable you are both in the water (“in your element”) and with snorkeling, the higher your rate of success will be. Not being either may turn the “dolphin swim” into a snorkeling lesson for you, and can distract from the success of others.

Things to consider for success, comfort, and your safety;

  • Participants must be able to climb a ladder, both sit on a swim step and get up off it, and be able to board and move around the vessel comfortably and with minimal assistance. You must also be able to listen to and follow precise detail, and effectively communicate with the crew.
  • Make sure you are present and attentive for all safety and information briefings.
  • At times the water can be very deep – you will not be wading in from shore – on some occasions, you may not even see the bottom;
  • People have the tendency to overestimate their swimming and snorkeling abilities, and to underestimate their health and/or limitations. If it looks like it may be too much, it probably is.
  • The quicker you can be geared up, the better your odds will be. All gear fitting is done before the boat leaves the dock. Time spent taking pictures from onboard, putting on sunscreen, pulling back your hair, finding safe places for glasses, digging for a towel, neatly folding clothes, etc. rather than gearing up will directly subtract from successful in-water time with dolphins. If we are pressuring you to hurry, its because your success rate is going to decrease with the length of time needed for you to get in the water. Timing is a learned art, please trust us, and for the sake of both you and the dolphins, be ready.
  • Stay focused on the dolphins, where they are, where they are going, how fast or slow they are moving, how fast or slow different pods are moving, activity levels, if you get in and aim for that pod, and you cant keep up, is there another pod behind it? Be responsible for you trip, if you dont know where they are, get your head up and look. If you know where they are, stay with them.
  • Fully grasp the meaning of this profoundly powerful four-word phrase, “Swim with, not at.” Parellel them in every sense of the word. Blend, blend, blend…
  • Also, if really important to you, book more than one trip, or take a multiple day trip. Not only are the odds of getting skunked on two trips unheard of, but EACH time you see the dolphins you will be more comfortable, heighten your interaction chances, really hear our guidance, etc.
  • There are very few places in the world with these types of near shore conditions where swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitats, by their own choice (no training or feeding) are available.
Can I get a discount? 2017-05-18T14:05:26+00:00

Information to come…

Are your activities ran as separate tours? If not, can someone request to do just one specific activity? 2017-05-09T19:23:28+00:00

Most often we experience all activities offered onboard each cruise. There are some seasons that are better for certain activities than for others. For example, big winter waves would lead to to potential snorkeling limitations and humpback whales are usually only seen in winter and spring months (there are other year-round whales).

Any of our vessels may be available to be chartered privately. The easiest way is just to purchase all ‘seats”. If your party is six people, the Best of the West is already private! If more, the Deluxe Wildlife Charter will take up to 20 (holds 40, but that’s more than we like).

What kinds of things we will be able to do or see on this cruise? 2017-05-09T19:22:42+00:00

Our adventures give you the opportunity to observe, photograph, snorkel with and learn about the marine life here in our own backyard, the Pacific Ocean. We encounter green sea turtles, 18 different species of dolphins and whales, flying fish, rays, tropical fish, coral reefs, whale sharks and more. You will be part of an ongoing mission to conserve these marine creatures as data is gathered both onboard and underwater.

Swimming with dolphins Only in Hawaii and a few other places world wide, do opportunities exist to experience dolphins that are truly wild, not trained or hand-fed, but allow us to observe them of their own accord. Please note that as our coastal waters have recently been confronted with the global phenomena of “loving nature to death (e.g. Orcas in the Pacific Northwest)” we are very finicky about when, how or even if we will put people in the water with the dolphins. Please trust our judgment if wildlife encounters are better experienced onboard than in the water. We are usually also able to swim with turtles and other sealife.

Whale watching takes place year round (except for charters on the Island Spirit – only seasonal humpbacks on that boat) with interpretation by marine biologists, who are also gathering data on whale populations abundance and distribution on the islands that we visit..

Snorkeling Coral Reefs with Tropical Fish and Turtles

REEF surveys are also taken while snorkeling with the turtles and other tropical reef inhabitants to monitor the health of this diverse ecosystems.

What is the difference between the two tours? 2017-05-18T14:03:55+00:00

There are mostly subtle differences between the two. While both have the nearshore dolphin/turtle/snorkeling (and the seasonal humpbacks) focus, the Best of the West adds in the exclusive offshore journeys to experience the variety of year-round dolphin and whale species. The biggest draw is that being only six passengers (all age 12 or over) onboard the Best of the West is truly ‘your trip, your way’.

The Deluxe Wildlife Charter, on the Island Spirit, is the all-age version of the Best of the West, sharing the ethics of personal service, and intimate encounters – maximizing the experience for both guests and the wildlife. The main difference between the two, is that the Deluxe Wildlife Charter does not normally go offshore, but sticks with the nearshore whales, dolphins and snorkeling. There are up to four more passengers allowed, but the boat is also larger, and more suited to all age groups and abiliities with appropriate educational props, trampolines to lie on,.wide stable pathways, and a drop down staircase (vs. ladder on BOW).

This Best of the West, our most popular cruise is how the owners and crew would (and do) take their family and friends out to experience Hawaii. On this tour, you not only have less passengers to compete with (4- 6 total), you often have no other tour boats. While safe and comfortable and plenty of frills – It is a more focused/tailored/personalized adventure and therefore the ages are limited to those over 12 .

After a morning swim on the Best of the West, Tori’s infamous chicken sandwiches (possible vegetarian options) are served with local “grinds” such as pineapple, mango salsa, and macadamia shortbread cookies. The Deluxe Wildlife Charter has a BBQ lunch All charters include snacks (granola bars, fruit, etc.), and a variety non-alcoholic drinks.

All of our cruises share a portion of proceeds and/or boat space with the Wild Dolphin Foundation.

What is unique about your boat tours, compared to ‘everyone else’? 2017-05-09T19:19:46+00:00

Our team of marine biologists share their life’s passions with you; cruising and snorkeling in rural Hawaiian areas and educating the public while protecting the wildlife found.

We (and the animals) prefer the comfort, intimacy and safety of small groups, as compared to the “pile ’em on” busload atmosphere. Likewise, each charter is different than the day before, especially on our premier charters – we do it ‘”your way’ maximizing what you want to do, and what that particular day has to offer – vs. a ‘canned adventure’. Also, proceeds are donated to the Wild Dolphin Foundation to help conserve the animals that we encounter (as gently as possible) and their habitats.

What differentiates Wild Side Specialty’s whale and dolphin tours from other companies – according to one guest’s review, (out of the mouths of babes):

  1. Staff’s passion, love for, and expert knowledge (marine-biologists!) about the marine life <seasoned, interactive interpretation vs. memorized factoids over a PA system>
  2. Attention to safety, including limiting the number of participants based on safety, quality, and respect for the wildlife encountered – rather than filling the boat to capacity.
  3. Willingness to understand and meet guests’ expectations and requests
  4. Again, the small number of passengers ensuring comfort on the boat, as well as flexibility to make “on-the-spot” decisions in changing situations and personalized attention and itineraries.
  5. Quality over quantity, cruise to remote areas for better encounters and generally stay clear of crowded tourist areas.

Thanks for the useful review!


Bananas are considered bad luck on boats all over the world. Please leave them at home!

Although not in any way necessary, if you have a good day on the water, tipping of the crew is appropriate. (10% to 15% is standard)