For my whole life, I’ve been obsessed with dolphins. I even have one tattooed on my leg. I always wanted to go to one of those amusement parks where you can pay to swim with one or be a ‘trainer for a day’. It never happened for whatever reason, and now I’m so so very glad. Because I’ll tell you what – nothing compares to the experience of being in the wild with these magical creatures. They are choosing to to be in your space, and there is something extra special about that.

My mom gifted us this experience with Dolphin Excursions which is located in Waianae and I gotta say, they are a fantastic company. My biggest fear was that we’d spend all this money and not actually see any dolphins. Or worse, I was concerned we’d see a single dolphin and the company would consider it good. And ironically enough, that’s exactly how many dolphins we saw on our first trip out: one. So they invited us back (which seems to be their standard), and we tried again four days later. That time? Success!

On the first morning, we suited up and headed out to the west side. It was early. And I had butterflies in my stomach because I had no idea what the day would bring. I couldn’t decide if I was more afraid that I wouldn’t see any dolphins or that I would see a shark.

We arrived at the loading point, and picked out our life vests. We could have used their snorkel gear, but instead, we brought our own. We then waited for everyone else in the group to finish up, and we headed toward the boat.

We decided immediately that we would buy the photos from the professional photographer on board, and although it’s an extra expense, I highly recommend you do the same. I brought my DSLR and my water camera, but both photographers captured much better photos than my equipment was capable of. Plus, I was able to relax and actually be IN some shots! So just know that this blog post is a mix of my photos and theirs!
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We made our way quickly out toward the open water in search of the dolphins!IMG_2703eblog

And after a few minutes, we arrived closer to Ka’ena Point, and there we found a baby spinner dolphin!

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It was the only one we saw, but the boat dropped us in the water to do a little snorkeling.
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The water was so clear!DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-100blog

You probably want to know what Audra is holding in this photo. I have no idea.DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-104blog

Trying to get a group shot underwater is totally laughable. In every attempt, one of us is doing something crazy. So here’s the best version!DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-121blog

A spotted eagle ray! In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t actually see this. I somehow missed it as we were swimming back toward the boat. The photographer captured it though, so I decided to include it. I mean, it was there when we were there. That counts, right?DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-131blog

As we were hanging out in the water, we realized the boat kept getting farther and farther away from us. I guess we were drifting without knowing it. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure it’s against company policy to just drive off and leave us behind.DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-123blog

We loaded back up and headed back south a bit.

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When we got in the water at this place, we had some of the best snorkeling of our lives. And the photographer swam down and found a little octopus who really didn’t want to play with us.DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-250blog DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-252blog

Now THIS is a fun shot! (See? Totally pays to hire the professional.)DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-228blog DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-238blog DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-242blog

And then there were the sea turtles. I wish I had grabbed this shot, but my waterproof camera couldn’t compete with the DSLR. (Note to self: I need an underwater housing for my own!)DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-172blog

This is the shot I got. Not quite the same, but still pretty awesome to be swimming with these guys!DSCN1934eblog DSCN1944eblog

And before we knew it, we were back at the dock. I was bummed that we didn’t get to actually swim with any dolphins, but like I mentioned above, I knew we’d be back.DolphinExcursions- AlexaVitek-262blog

The package we purchased with Dolphin Excursions included a lunch at Spinners Cafe. And it was delicious. We were exhausted, and high on endorphins after that great snorkeling experience, so I was glad to have food provided without much effort on our part!
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Now for the second trip. It was four days later, and we were much more relaxed. And I was crossing my fingers and toes that we’d get the experience we’d been hoping for!

These guys are nerds.

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Bam. Right out of the gate, we hit the jackpot! Can you picture me happy crying? Because that was totally happening.9.20.15_AM-12blog2

I think the photographer captured this while still on the boat – we didn’t get in the water right away.9.20.15_AM-31blog2

One of the best things about this company was that I never felt like they were chasing the dolphins. We headed out to deeper water and just waited to see if they would follow.

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We jumped in and did a little snorkeling while we crossed our fingers and hoped the dolphins would come back.
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I was nowhere near the dolphins, but the photographer was and she captured these next few photos. But that meant they were sticking around! I just hadn’t gotten to see them up close yet.
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We climbed back in the boat and drove around a bit more.9.20.15_AM-114 Then we hopped back out again.9.20.15_AM-133 9.20.15_AM-143

And I could see them from far away, but I wanted them to be NEAR me! I was begging!DSCN2006blog

And then it happened. The pod swam directly beneath us and I snapped this image. And even though the photo isn’t the most amazing quality, I will seriously cherish it forever. FOREVER. Because these little guys can swim anywhere in the whole wide ocean, and they chose to swam right underneath us.

I’m still giddy about it.DSCN2017blog

And then they were gone. But we stayed in the water and snorkeled some more. And even though these aren’t dolphins, they’re still pretty cute!9.20.15_AM-158 9.20.15_AM-304 9.20.15_AM-279 My partner in crime.9.20.15_AM-229edit2

Once we started to head back in, this girl was wiped out. I’m talking about the small one. But I was pretty exhausted too. Having all your dreams come true will do that to ya.DSCN2065blog

I sorta felt like we got double the experience because on our first excursion, we saw so many beautiful fish, an octopus, and sea turtles. Then the second time we went out, we got that insane dolphin encounter. I really couldn’t have planned it better.9.20.15_AM-319I had to wait 33 years to swim with dolphins, but it was totally worth the wait. And if you’re interested in a similar experience, I highly recommend Dolphin Excursions. (And no, they aren’t paying me a dime to say that. But if you don’t believe me – check out their online reviews!)

*This post contains affiliate links.*
Kauai's Nā Pali Coast: The Kalalau Trail
Waimanalo Bay Beach Park