Wild Side Specialty Tours gave me the experience of a lifetime. With their Best of the West tour I was taken on a three and a half hour journey beyond what I could have ever imagined. The semi-private custom tour leaving the Waianae Small Boat Harbor just after sunrise on the 34 foot powerful Alaka’i provided me an opportunity to see wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Not only to see wild dolphins, but to have an opportunity to swim with the dolphins. The beauty of seeing baby spinner dolphins swim hyperactively along side their mothers while showing off for the boat is beyond words. I can’t even count how many dolphins I saw. From every direction, I was amazed by the beautiful creatures racing along side the boat. The dolphins were dancing in the water and doing acrobatics in front of the bow. I can’t truly express the experience I had with Wild Side Specialty Tours because it literally left me speechless.
The view of the Western coast of Oahu from a distance was incredible. With no hotel in sight, all that can be seen are the sacred Hawaiian mountains meeting the ocean’s waters. With the sun glistening on the calm water and the dolphins swimming along side us, there was no place I would rather be. I was so excited to get in the water to experience what swimming with dolphins should be like–natural, humane, and sustainable. An opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in their natural environment is once in a lifetime. I didn’t know if I would see any dolphins when I left the harbor, yet Wild Side has a 99.9% marine mammal sighting rate. Tori, owner of Wild Side, and facilitator of my tour, easily located where the dolphins were on the calm morning. As a researcher, she is extremely knowledgeable about the ocean, marine life, and especially dolphins. She has an amazing intuition to know where the dolphins are. I am amazed by all that I saw.
Wild Side raises awareness about sustainable marine tours and provides their passengers with an enlightening interactive tour. All tours are in small groups which enhances the experience with the marine life. Wild Side goes above and beyond to accommodate their guests experience in the water. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and provide all the information you need to have a successful swim with the dolphins, including pre-encounter briefings on the boat. Wild Side’s near-shore swim with dolphins provides the longest dolphin time of any dolphin tour in the water… and it’s in their environment. Prior to the tour, Wild Side provided me with multiple electronic information packets to prepare me for my swim (spinner dolphins, what to expect (FAQ’s), how to swim with dolphins, sane and safe for both you and the dolphin). When it was finally time to get into the water I knew what to expect and was ready to become a part of the pod.
Swimming with five wild spinner dolphins off the coast of Waianae in Hawaii was both magical and heavenly. I love being in the sea and I especially love observing the ocean’s marine life. It’s as if I connect with the ocean and its creatures better than I do with people on earth. There is nothing better than being a part of the aquatic world by being welcomed into a pod of wild dolphins–my new best friends. I swam quickly and as “dolphin-like” as possible to keep up with them. I didn’t want the experience to ever end. This is an experience I will have forever.
The spinner dolphins accepted me as if I were a part of their family. They allowed me to swim with them for 45 minutes in the warm clear turquoise waters. The elegant creatures watched me intently as I quietly swam along side them. Swimming eye to eye with a wild dolphin was beyond my wildest dreams. It was as if I was able to communicate with them by looking into their eyes, the windows to their soul. Their swift bodies moved gracefully through the water. With a flick of their tail, they could change directions at any moment. If they didn’t want me to swim with them they would have been gone in an instant, yet they welcomed my presence. To this day, I believe that angels come in many forms, but I know for sure that I was swimming with five angelic dolphins.
How to get involved?
Check out their informative website for information on Wai’anae Oahu, the crew, tours, charters, Hawaii wildlife, volunteer programs, and how you can help support various research programs including the Cascadia Research Collective. Being involved in this tour gave me the assurance that I was doing something to help the marine’s wildlife, rather than exploiting it.
*Media coverage for Wild Side Specialty Tours