Dolphin Watching In Kona, Hawaii

Observe Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins in this dreamy, small-group snorkel experience.

Dolphin Watching Tour Details

3.5 Hours

We’ll head along the reef in search of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.

No Swimming

We observe dolphins from the boat, and we do not swim with dolphins.


Enjoy complimentary nonalcoholic refreshments and snacks.

$149 Per Person

Enjoy our small-group experience with a max of 12 guests.

Dolphin Watching - Availability


We see Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins roughly 95% of the time. While we expect to see dolphins every morning, they are wild animals, and we do not see them roughly 5% of the time.

If you do not see dolphins, we will offer you a free trip on any tour with availability. Our tours typically sell out several days in advance, so we recommend booking your Dolphin Dreaming tour at the beginning of your stay on Hawaii Island.

We meet our guests near the boat ramp at the Keauhou Harbor, located at 78-7130 Kaleiopapa St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.

Click Here to view the location on a map.

Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time of departure. We will check you in, and bring you to the boat at the time of departure.

Daytime tours: we recommend you bring a towel, reef safe sunscreen (applied before entering the boat), and sunglasses.

Evening tours: we recommend you bring a towel and light coverup or jacket for the boat ride back to the harbor.

We have a minimum age of 3. Children 3 and older are welcome on the tour if they can comfortably swim 25 yards in the ocean.

Every person on the boat needs a ticket, regardless of age or size. Our boat is certified by the US Coast Guard for 12 passengers, and we can not exceed this limit.

You may cancel your trip up until 48 hours before your departure time, for a full refund.

Additional Information

Check In

Please arrive at 7:45 am.

When you arrive at Keauhou Harbor, look for the boat ramp where boats are trailered in and out of the water. Our boat will arrive at the ramp, and our boat crew will check you in. If you do not see us, please call 808-209-9680.

Hawaii Oceanic boat Pueo Kai 2 provides manta ray night snorkel tours, dolphin tours, and Kealakekua Bay tours

Wild Dolphin Watching

While underway, the captain will be searching for dolphins close to shore, and your crew will begin an educational briefing on how to respectfully interact with the animals.

Most common around Kona are the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris).

With well over 1,000 individual dolphins populating the Kona cost, these are the dolphin we will search for.

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

As implied by their name, these dolphins exhibit astonishing flips and spins in the air, putting on a great show for everyone!

Female spinner dolphins are about 5 feet long and 150 pounds. Male dolphins are a bit bigger than females, capping out at 170 pounds. Infant dolphins, or calves, can be seen throughout the year because there is no specific mating/birthing season. Dolphins are highly social and exhibit complex social bonds.

Swim with Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins
Swimming with 2 dolphins in Hawaii

Finding Dolphins

We typically find dolphins close to shore in small family groups, or pods, of 5-30 individuals.

These small family pods are resting and socializing in shallow, clear waterd along the coast.

They prefer protected bay-like areas, which provide a calm environment for the dolphin to sleep periodically throughout the day.

How Do Dolphins Breathe While Sleeping?

Whales and dolphins (infraorder Cetacea) are conscious breathers, meaning they have to be awake to remind themselves to breathe.

This adaptation to aquatic life, while highly beneficial when diving for food, proves troublesome for a tired cetacean hoping to rest.

How does a dolphin sleep if it has to be awake to remember to breathe?

All cetaceans have evolved the ability to “sleep-swim,” a behavior in which they actually shut down one hemisphere of their brain and close the corresponding eye.

The other hemisphere of the brain stays awake at a low level of alertness to remind the animal to surface and breathe, and to remind the animal to swim.

This sleep-swim behavior is exhibited throughout the day, interspersed with bouts of socialization and play. We do not enter the water with dolphins when they are displaying sleep-swim behavior.

Swim with dolphins on The Big Island of Hawaii
Swim with Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins on the Kona Coast

When Do Dolphins Eat?

Dolphins eat at night, migrating offshore to feed on mesopelagic fish, shrimp, and squid.

The small family pods of dolphins join forces with many other groups and form a superpod of several hundred individuals. The dolphins work and hunt together to corral large bait balls, which they take turns diving through.

After a long night spent foraging, the dolphin will fracture into their original family groups (or pods) and return to the Kona shore to rest.

What Do Dolphins Do During The Day?

Different species of dolphins exhibit different behavioral patterns throughout the day.

The Hawaiian Spinner dolphins are the most common dolphins, so much more is known about their behavior.

We are sometimes lucky enough to see more elusive species of dolphins, such as the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatis) or the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata). Not much is known about the behaviors and occurrences of Bottlenose and Pantropical Spotted Dolphins because they are not as abundant as the Hawaiian Spinner dolphin.

It is a real treat to see the larger bottlenose or the fast and sleek spotted dolphins.

Dolphin snorkel in Kona, HI
Swim with Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Can I Swim With Dolphins?

On October 28, 2021, a new law went into effect and swimming with dolphins is now banned. We cruise the gorgeous Kona Coast looking for pods of dolphins, and we observe them from the boat rather than from the water.


Private Dolphin Tours Are Available

If your group or family would prefer to have a charter boat to themselves, book The Private Explorer charter boat tour. At Hawaii Oceanic, we specialize in making our boat yours for the whole morning, where your family can decide how to best enjoy the beautiful Kona coast.

Swim with dolphins in Kona Hawaii
$139 Per Person