FAQ

What do you do to protect against COVID-19 (Corona Virus)?

Aloha all.

We understand that this has been a very difficult time for everyone.  We have been monitoring the COVID-19 Pandemic very closely.  Now that we are officially open, we want you to know that you can relax and have piece of mind when visiting us here at Dolphin Discoveries. 

We have always had a very stringent disinfectant policy and are very proud of our procedures that have been in place all along.  All masks and snorkels are disassembled and disinfected, which is also done on a routine basis.  All masks, snorkels and fins are cleaned and disinfected after each use.  All disinfectant products used are approved by the EPA.  

However, to further protect against COVID-19, we will be offering free disposable face coverings, as well as hand sanitizer.  You are welcome to bring your own.  Additionally, each boat is thoroughly sanitized after each trip.  Trips will be limited to smaller groups.  However, if you are part of the same family, we can accommodate up to 14 passengers.

Please note that the 14 day quarantine is currently still in effect for all travelers.  Please be sure that you are following the State mandated rules.

We are here to make your visit to the Big Island the very best and we can’t wait to see you on our next ocean adventure!

What should I bring?

We suggest you wear swimsuit under a cover up, bring a towel, sunglasses, reef safe sunscreen lotion only (no aerosols please) and a camera. For the Manta trips we strongly advise you bring a towel and a sweatshirt or cover-up to use after your trip.  Our boats do have a small dry box aboard for a personal bag. Please try to use a small bag so all guests have room to store their belongings.

How do I know my sunscreen is REEF SAFE?

In order to protect our beautiful Kona Reefs and their ecosystems, we only allow “REEF SAFE” sunscreen to be used while on our trips.

For your convenience, we sell 3oz. tubes of reef safe sunscreen at check-in that meets Hawaii’s requirements.  You may also find “REEF SAFE” sunscreen at nearly all drugstores, convenience and grocery stores on the island.  We do not allow spray on sunscreen.  Please choose a lotion sunscreen.

Don’t let the labels trick you though.  Be sure to check out the ingredients list.  Any Mineral based or zinc based sunscreen typically meets all requirements.  All Good and No Ad are also a great choice.  Harmful ingredients to watch for are oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and nanoparticles. 

While regular sunscreen is hard at work protecting your skin, it is also killing the coral and reef environment.

Most chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which is believed to be the culprit. Oxybenzone damages the coral’s DNA, inhibiting its ability to reproduce.  Found in over 3,500 sunscreens sold in the U.S., oxybenzone is the most common, harmful chemical linked to bleaching fragile coral reef populations worldwide. Its use by ocean swimmers and snorkelers contributes an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen into rivers and oceans each year. As little as one drop in the equivalent of six-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools can seriously harm coral reefs and marine ecosystems.

Do you offer a discount if I book multiple trips?

ABSOLUTELY!  We love when guests come out to experience the different adventures we have to offer and we are happy to help you save money!  When you book your first trip with us, either on-line or by phone, you will receive a coupon code in your confirmation email.  That coupon code can be used on-line or over the phone towards your next trip.  Easy peasy.  

Can I reserve a Private Charter?

Definitely!  We would be thrilled to accommodate your family, bachelor/bachelorettes, weddings, corporate events, retreats or any other type of gathering or special event.  With sufficient notice, we can help you plan an exciting adventure to meet your needs and expectations. Book your private charter on-line or give us a call at (808) 322-8000. We’ll make it happen!

Will there be shade on the boat?

All of our boats offer shade. However we strongly suggest you bring along and apply beforehand a waterproof and reef safe sunscreen, or wearing a rash guard or paddle shirt. For some guests, a hat might be a good idea too. Just make sure it won’t blow off and end up in the ocean. If you take the proper precautions, you can easily avoid overexposure. Kona weather can be cloudy in the afternoon, so those who are very concerned will often choose our three-hour Captain Cook’s Afternoon Snorkel Adventure.

May I bring my own equipment?

If you have equipment that you are comfortable with, feel free to bring it if you like! The snorkel gear we keep onboard is excellent- silicone masks, dry snorkels with purge valves and fins in a wide array sizes. For your protection, we sanitize the equipment after each use. There is no discount for providing your own equipment.

Can I bring a full face mask?

While full face masks are not banned, Dolphin Discoveries does not provide or encourage the use of full face masks.  While there have been no official reports published, there have been many incidents involving buildup of carbon dioxide that can cause the snorkeler to lose consciousness. Full face mask are also difficult to remove quickly in the event the snorkeler is feeling distressed.  We strongly recommend thoroughly researching full face masks and consider practicing with a traditional snorkel and mask set prior to your snorkel adventure.

Remember that you want your snorkel adventure to be fun.  Safety always comes first!

Will we see dolphins if we don’t take the Dolphin Swim Adventure?

Although we do not guarantee that we will view dolphins on any but our Dolphin Swim Adventure it is not uncommon to get lucky and view dolphins or other large marine life (turtles, whales) either on our way to or from some of our favorite snorkeling sites.

If you book a Dolphin Discovery Adventure we are extremely proud of our “Dolphin View” record being nearly 98% of the time.  However, if for any reason we are unable to view dolphins on the day and time you have joined us, we will gladly offer you an opportunity go out a second time at no additional charge on a space available basis. Therefor we recommend you plan your Dolphin Discovery Adventure early during your visit to Hawai’i so that if necessary we can reschedule your tour without running into conflicts with the rest of your itinerary. IMPORTANT: There are no refunds if you do not view the dolphins or whales during any trip.

What if I have never snorkeled before? Do you teach people how to snorkel?

Although we cannot offer snorkel lessons or assist snorkelers with snorkeling methods while in the water, our crew will happily give you snorkel tips and will assist you with adjusting your mask, fins and snorkel to insure you have a comfortable snorkel experience. We can also provide you with either a life jacket or pool noodle.

Snorkel Tips:

  1. You don’t have to be an excellent swimmer, but you must be able to swim. 
  2. If you have never snorkeled before, no worries.  Snorkeling is not difficult.  We recommend that you pick up an inexpensive snorkel set at your local store and practice wearing the mask and breathing through the snorkel in the pool or bathtub.
  3. Once in the water, practice breathing slowly and calmly.

These simple tips can help you and your family have the best time while visiting us here on the Big Island.

Can I snorkel with the the dolphins in the wild if I have never snorkeled before?

If you have never snorkeled before, it could be challenging to attempt the wild dolphin swim.  Because of the nature of wild dolphin swims, the snorkeler has to be ready to slide into the water equipped with all necessary snorkeling gear when it is safest for the dolphins. We visit the dolphins in their natural habitat, the water depth could be 10 feet or 300 feet (in which case you won’t see the bottom). For this reason, it is best that you are comfortable swimming in deep, open-ocean water for the Dolphin Swim Adventure.  See our easy snorkel tips under the “What if I never snorkeled before” section.

Therefore, we do not recommend our Dolphin Adventure Swim for anyone who is not comfortable in the water and/or has never snorkeled before.  We strongly recommend choosing either the Kona Coast Deluxe Snorkel Adventure or Captain Cook’s AM/ PM Snorkel Adventure.  Then, if you were comfortable and enjoyed that experience you may want to book Dolphin Discovery Adventure. We’ll even offer you a discount for the Dolphin Swim Adventure using a Promotion Code that will be included in the confirmation email you will receive after you make your reservation and you book in the same week!

Will we swim with the Manta Rays?

You will be in the water however it is not possible to do “free snorkeling” during the tour because your snorkel and fins can hurt the manta rays. Touching them can remove their protective skin coating. Manta rays may come as close as arm’s length during your viewing session however if touched the Manta ray will most likely leave the viewing area.  Manta rays are not dangerous. They are considered harmless and are mostly very curious and swim around divers.

Do you provide prescription masks?

We do!  We carry a variety of prescription masks for guests that are nearsighted (a negative prescription).  We can certainly help you see objects in the distance more clearly.

We do not, however, carry farsighted masks (a positive prescription), as the majority of our trips involve snorkeling and viewing marine life at a distance. 

If you wear contacts, it is safe to wear contacts under our non-prescription masks. 

If you would like to reserve a prescription mask, please let us know your prescription and we will pick a mask as close to your prescription as possible.  We are here to make your snorkeling experience as comfortable as possible.

How will we get in and out of the boat?

At the dock you will step in.  While out snorkeling you will slide into the water off the side of the boat. You will exit the water using a strong, secure ladder.

How deep will the water be?

Kealakekua and Honaunau Bays feature beautiful coral bottoms. The best snorkeling is normally found in 5-15 ft. of water. For the protection of the coral and its ecosystems no one is allowed to stand on or touch the coral or any living thing in, on or around the reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. If you would feel more comfortable wearing a snorkel vest or noodle for added flotation, just ask.

Snorkeling with the dolphin is in the open ocean and at times the water can be very deep. It is recommended that you have swimming and snorkeling experience on this adventure. 

Snorkeling with the manta ray in Keauhou Bay is a night time adventure.  The water can be between 25-30ft in depth.  Our brightly lit boards allow us to see all the way to the coral bottom.

Are there restrooms on board?

There are no bathrooms on board. With that in mind, we suggest you plan ahead and use the facilities near our check-in location before you depart. Once onboard, your first opportunity to “get into the water” will be approximately 30-40 minutes into the trip.

What if we don’t see any dolphins or Manta Ray?

If for any reason we are unable to view Dolphin or Manta Ray on the day and time you have joined us, we will gladly offer you an opportunity go out a second time at no additional charge on a space available basis. So we recommend you plan your Dolphin or Manta Adventures early during your visit to Hawai’i so that if necessary we can reschedule your tour without running into conflicts with the rest of your itinerary.)

What happens if there is bad weather or the water is rough?

This is very rare as the Kona Coast is blessed with the best weather, least rain, and calmest water in the state. The occasional gloomy sky can quickly turn sunny.  For this reason, no trip will be cancelled prior to 30 minutes before its scheduled time of departure. If the trip is canceled, we will make every effort to reschedule your trip (subject to availability) for a later time during your stay on the island. If that is not possible, we will cheerfully refund your full purchase amount.

Do you think I will get sea sick?

Generally we have fewer problems with seasickness than regular boats and large catamarans because of the open air, fast-moving nature of our vessels. However, while our vessels will affect far fewer guests, there are still people who are strongly susceptible and will become seasick no matter what. If you decide to take an over-the-counter medication, we recommend taking the recommended dose the night before your trip and the morning of your trip.  

When or how long in advance should I make my reservation?

We suggest at least a week ahead unless you will be here during one of the busiest seasons (summer, spring break, and the holidays). During these busy times, we often book up several weeks in advance. You are welcome to make your reservation as much as a year in advance.  For large groups, advance reservations are strongly recommended regardless of your season of travel.

What if I need to cancel or change my reservation?

Since we do not overbook our vessels and we specialize in small groups, we enforces a strict 48 hour NO REFUND cancellation policy.  If you must cancel for any reason including but not limited to change of travel plans, personal or family health or “change of heart” no refunds are given.

If you cancel your reservation at least 48 hours prior to your trip, you will receive a full refund. If you need to reschedule at any time after the 48 hours and prior to one hour before your scheduled departure, we will be happy to do so on a space available basis. If we cannot accommodate your request to reschedule and you still must cancel there will be no refund.

However, when you make your reservation on the checkout page we do provide “Trip-assurance” for $15 per person that covers cancelling for any of the above reasons within 48 hours of your scheduled trip time – excluding “no-show” and late arrival. We will provide you with a full refund minus the “Trip-assurance” charge. “Trip-assurance” may not be added after checkout.

If your party has six or more or for Private Charters, you will receive a full refund of the entire private booking amount if you cancel 7 or more days prior to your scheduled departure day (00:001HST of scheduled charter date).

Note: We reserve the right to cancel for any reason including weather, ocean conditions, mechanical problems or safety of our guests or crew. If for any reason we must cancel on the date and time you have scheduled, we will gladly offer you an opportunity go out a second time at no additional charge on a space available basis or provide you with a full refund.

Our Waiver

When booking with Dolphin Discoveries, you will receive an electronic waiver (“E-Waiver”) link which will be included in your confirmation email.  We do need one E-Waiver for each person in your group, including minors.Minors can be “added” onto one parent’s or guardian’s E-Waiver.  Your confirmation containing the E-Waiver link can be forwarded to other people in your group, if needed.  The E-Waiver is easy to sign right from your phone or tablet.
We strongly encourage that you sign your waiver in advance of your scheduled trip so that we can get you checked in quickly and get you out on the water and having fun as soon as possible! 
If you cannot locate the link to your E-Waiver, no need to worry.  Simply click the link below and it will take you to the E-Waiver. https://waiver.smartwaiver.com/w/5cf318e721e9b/web/ 
Our booking program is automatically scheduled to send your reminders of your upcoming trip, which will contain the E-Waiver link as well.  If you already signed your E-Waivers, no need to sign them again.
Mahalo nui for helping us make check-in a smooth process!