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Dolphin encounter at Dolphin Quest - Big Island, Hawaii

Swimming with Dolphins in Hawaii

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There are many exciting family-friendly adventures on the Big Island of Hawaii. One such, not-to-be-missed, experience is swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii, a program offered by Dolphin Quest, located at Hilton Waikoloa Village resort on the Kohala Coast (approximately 30 min from Kona). Our family actually spent a week at this spectacular resort, but anyone visiting the Big Island is welcome.

Dolphin Quest Options

Dolphin Quest offers several different dolphins encounter options, some better suited for smaller children, such as Wee Tots, and some for older ones, such as Trainer for a Week. Adults are also welcome and Dolphin Family & Friends is a popular option for families with children over 5 or larger groups.

Our two children participated in Kids Quest, a roughly 1 hour and 15 min long program, for children ages 5-9. The program started outside of water, at the Dolphin Quest Encounter Club, where kids played fun games and learned about dolphins, turtles and other sea creatures before getting their feet wet (pun intended!) in the shallow water where they were able to observe tiny fish through glass bottom buckets.

The Kids Quest Dolphin Experience

After putting on life jackets, they walked into the small lagoon where they had the opportunity to touch, pet and even feed the dolphins. The actual time in the water was roughly 20 minutes, but they each had several turns to interact with the dolphins up close and personal, in addition to interacting with them as a group, with the skillful guidance of a trainer.

The staff of Dolphin Quest takes ample pictures and videos of each encounter, which you are able to purchase shortly after the program ends to help you relive the memories again and again at home. The photo prices were quite steep, particularly considering that the programs themselves are quite pricey to begin with. But it was hard to take great photos while watching from the sidelines, and the photos offered by Dolphin Quest were great.

The Lagoon at Dolphin Quest at Hilton Waikoloa Village resort

The Lagoon at Dolphin Quest.

Why Go with Dolphin Quest?

As a parent, I very much appreciated the emphasis on teaching children about marine life and preservation throughout the program, which is also extensively communicated on the company’s website. I also liked that the children were organized in small, comfortably sized groups of five to six kids. They were eased into the water, which was important for those kids that were initially a bit apprehensive despite their excitement. Finally, I very much liked the friendly, energetic and knowledgeable Dolphin Quest staff who were able to make an immediate connection with our children and made us feel they were in great hands.

Full disclosure…this memorable adventure does not come cheap, but our children’s beaming faces made the experience worth it. Our son, who was initially reluctant to take part, was ecstatic when he came out of the water. Our daughter kept bragging how she fed fish to the dolphins with her very own hands!

Feeding dolphins at Dolphin Quest

Come and get it!

Reserve Your Spot to Swim with the Dolphins in Advance

It is also important to know that tickets should be reserved well in advance to avoid any disappointment. There are a limited number of programs per day, particularly during the busy seasons such as summer or holidays. Our family made our reservation online about three months before our vacation.

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A native of Slovenia, Vera moved to the U.S. 20+ years ago after meeting her American husband. Together with their two children they live on the North…

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