How to Swim with Dolphins (Kind of)

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: October 2022

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If you’re looking for a unique and memorable experience while visiting Oahu, Hawaii, then you should definitely consider Iruka Hawaii’s Dolphin Swim with Ocean Activities. In this article, we’ll review the experience, provide tips on what to expect, and what to bring.

Getting There

The boat departs from Waianae Harbor, which is located on the west side of the island. Depending on traffic, it can take you about 1.5 hours drive from Waikiki. If you’re staying in Waikiki, they do have a free shuttle that departs from several hotels. We jumped on the free shuttle from the Hilton Grand Islander at around 5:30am – yes 5:30am…

What to Expect

Once you arrive at the harbor, you’ll check in at the boat and be on the boat for about 4 hours, from 7:30am to 11:30am. There is a restroom on board the boat, so if you’re prone to motion sickness, it’s a good idea to take some preventative measures such as over-the-counter motion sickness tablets or ginger tablets.

The boat has two stops.

The first stop is to swim with dolphins. The boat races ahead of the dolphin pods and then everyone jumps in the water quickly to try and see the dolphins before they swim away. It’s important to note that the dolphins are at a distance and you cannot touch or ride them. If you’re looking for a more up-close experience with dolphins, you can check out Dolphin Quest at Kahala Resort or Sea Life Park.

The second stop is a much more relaxed spot where you can snorkel with fish and turtles. The boat sets anchor and you can have a much more relaxed snorkel. The crew also sets up an inflatable rock wall, stand-up paddle boards, and a giant floating lily pad.

What to Wear and Pack

It’s a good idea to wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes to make it easy to get in the water. Make sure to apply sunscreen about an hour prior to give it plenty of time to dry before you get in the water. It’s also a good idea to bring polarized sunglasses and a refillable water bottle.

The gear is included, but if you prefer to use your own, you can bring your own snorkel mask. It’s also a good idea to bring a dry bag to keep your belongings safe and dry.

The boat also provides lunch, which is a turkey wrap. If you’re a vegetarian, you can request a veggie option.


Overall, Iruka Hawaii’s Dolphin Swim with Ocean Activities is a great way to experience the beauty of the west side of Oahu. The crew was friendly and knowledgeable, and the experience was unforgettable. If you’re looking for a unique and memorable experience while visiting Oahu, then this is definitely something you should consider.


The number one thing that I would highly recommend that you bring is some sort of waterproof bag. People are getting on and off the boat, they’re wet, and water is dripping from them. If you have something valuable that you don’t want to get wet, such as any camera gear or cell phones, it is an excellent idea to get a waterproof bag.

My favorite waterproof bag is a 25 liter in mint green. It’s padded, has clips to make it comfortable, and it’s completely waterproof. It’s also big enough to fit a towel, cell phone, hat, and whatever else you need. It also has a clip section to clip on your sandals, flip-flops, or slippers, so they don’t get misplaced. There’s an outside zipper for you to put more things, but this is not waterproof. On the inside of the bag, there’s an inside pocket where you can put your wallet and cell phone.

Size: 25L, Color: mint green

What I Use:

My personal favorite for underwater is the GoPro Hero 10:

The (optional) underwater housing I use is also by GoPro:

When I’m doing underwater shots for snorkeling, I’ll use a red filter to grab more colors. Although the GoPro 10 is waterproof, I like using the underwater housing (with or without the red filters) to keep it clear of any saltwater. If you opt to use the GoPro brand red filter, you’ll have to use the underwater housing “shell” to attach it.

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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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