Diving with Dolphins in Hawaii
Early Saturday morning my sidekick Kellie and I jumped into her car to drive to the West side of O’ahu, one of the 8 Hawaiian main islands, to a little marina tucked into the corner of a beautiful piece of land. Ko’Olina Marina, first opened in 2000, is home to various catamaran sailboats where guests from nearby resorts come to inquire about snorkel tours and surfing trips. This unique spot is in fact the only marina in Hawaii designed specifically to hold world-class mega yachts. We arrived there and ordered a “Mega yacht for two, please!”
As we pulled up to the palm tree enclosed marina, we signed our lives away on a waiver that noted that the Ko Olina Explorer, a 44 foot inflatable boat powered by a crew of 3, would not be responsible for our actions. We signed anyway. I would almost sign anything to swim with wild dolphins, wouldn’t you?
As we launched out of our location and toward the epic coastline, we were headed to our first “drop spot”: Turtle Town. This is Oahu’s second most popular dive spot and I probably don’t need to explain why. This spot is home to a welathy marine life, most abundantly the turtles, who use this location as their feeding and cleaning station due to the certain fish that live there, that clean the turtles shells. “Why did the turtle cross the road?” … The answer, my friends, is that he wanted to get to the Shell station. Turtle Town is the Shell station. (Note: you will only get this joke if you are aware of one of the most popular United States gasoline companies: Shell) Great.. now that I explained the joke, the joke is dead. With that, I shall move on.
After swimming with, around, and in between turtles, it was time for our ultimate destination: dolphin town. Or..uh…urrr..Kahe Point. This area is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of Spinner Dolphins; who get their name for obvious reasons: they are spinning maniacs. About 6 feet in length, these fast little guys cruise through the water then fly out of it literally spinning. They travel in pods, or groups, of about 5-6, and trust me..a pod of spinners mid-air will put a smile on your face. The best part about this spot was the fact that it was one of our drop spots, in other words, we were about to get in the water with them. In other words, all our dreams as well as most everyone elses were about to come true in one single moment and it was about to happen now.
“I’ll tell you when to drop” notes Captain Mark, or as Kellie called him, “Marky Mark!” True story. We make friends fast.
“Drop!” Kellie was first into the salty ocean water, as I followed right behind. We had been instructed to immediately look through our masks and “float like a log” so that our movement didn’t panic the spinners, and so that our breakfast wouldn’t end up as yet another ocean pollutant.
It was quiet and still as I tried not to move a muscle floating there in the ocean through the early morning tide. I was concentrating so hard on keeping still that I found myself holding my breath, and reminded myself that yes, it is okay to breathe, the dolphins will still come.
And they did. I was staring through my mask at the smooth ocean floor below me. The sand had ripples moving through it and there was absolutely no reef nearby, so it was a perfect place for dolphins to play; not worried about what might pierce their gray, thick bellies. I saw a faint and small object out of the corner of my lens, as it slowly moved across the ocean’s ground. One object turned into two, then three. Before I could catch another breath, as I was still holding mine now that I figured I really shouldn’t move, there were five. Five spinner dolphins were playing just below me, one of which was a newborn calf; not even two feet in length. It took everything in me to float there still and silent, with breath hold at maximum capacity, without joining in on this group’s morning mingle. As badly as I wanted to swim in the middle of their pod, that would have been an awkward mix: long legged lady with strange blue entrapment on face amongst five gray torpedo-looking mammals. Never mind interrupting a perfectly beautiful moment, I was in one myself and didn’t need to move a muscle for the magic to commence.
I’ll never forget that morning off the west coast in the crisp and refreshing Hawaiian waters where spinner dolphins play and dreams come true. The best part about that morning was realizing that it doesn’t take much to make dreams a reality..it’s up to you to make it happen.
Raised in San Diego, Lindsay Schwarz has grown up in and next to the ocean all her life and is always on the search for her next underwater adventure. When she isn’t writing, you can find her out sailing on the open waters with a catamaran cruise operator.