Where To See Dolphins In Oahu: Best Places to Swim With Them

Where To See Dolphins In Oahu: Intro

Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat is a unique and unforgettable experience, and Oahu is widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to do it. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and Rough-Toothed Dolphins are the only two dolphin species that call the island home; visitors can observe them in their natural environments.

You can also swim with dolphins, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many visitors. Here’s where to see dolphins (and swim with them!) in Oahu in 2023.

Also, see our other Hawaii guides, like How many days in Oahu, Sunrise hikes in Oahu, or the snorkeling guide for Maui by clicking here.

Where to See Dolphins in Oahu: See Dolphins the Most Frequently

Map Of Oahu

Waianae Boat Harbor

Seeing dolphins in their natural environment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the Waianae is home to many dolphin-watching locations. Many different kinds of dolphins, including the endangered Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin, make their home in the Marine Mammal Protection Act governs dolphin watching and choose from a wide range of trips, including snorkeling excursions, dolphin encounters, and dolphin excursions. 

Snorkeling With Dolphins In Oahu

Makua Beach

Aside from Waimea Bay, Makua Beach is another fantastic spot on Oahu to spot dolphins. Makua Beach, found on the west coast of O’ahu, is a favorite hangout of dolphins due to its calm seas and shallow reef. The best way to see dolphins in their natural environment is to take a snorkeling tour or dolphin excursion from the beach. 

Oahu’s Sea Life

Sea Life Park is a fantastic choice for individuals who would rather view dolphins in a controlled environment. Sea Life Park is a marine-themed park on Oahu where you can interact with dolphins differently. Sea Life Park offers a unique opportunity to observe dolphins in their natural habitat by participating in a dolphin swim tour or snorkeling in a safe and regulated environment. 

Oahu’s Sea Life Park offers a more organized dolphin encounter. During the park’s special program, you may swim with dolphins and learn more about these fascinating animals from professional marine scientists. It’s a great place to spend the day because it’s home to many kinds of marine life, such as tropical fish and Hawaiian sea turtles. 

For Sea Life Park and other Oahu things to do, check out the GoCity Card, which can save money if you visit multiple attractions.

Waianae Coast

Take a boat cruise along the Waianae Coast if you’d rather rent a boat and sail on your terms. You can sit in search of dolphin pods in the coastal shallows on passenger catamarans or smaller boats.

Waianae Oahu

Visitors who want to know where to see dolphins in Oahu in their natural habitat can choose from boat trips, snorkel tours, and smaller group tours, among other things. On the island, there is a marine theme park called Sea Life Park, where you can swim with friendly dolphins in a zoo-like setting.

However, there is more to see than just the spectacular marine mammals. And that includes learning about and respecting their habitats and social structures. To keep dolphins and other marine animals safe, choosing a tour or trip that follows the rules set by the Marine Mammal Protection Act is important. 

With this in mind, let’s examine the top spots to view dolphins on Oahu and some helpful hints for making the most of your time there. Oahu is the place to go if you’re searching for a site to view dolphins in all their splendor. This is true whether you’re an adventure-seeking family or a group of friends looking for something out of the ordinary. 

How to Go Dolphin Spotting in Oahu: Snorkel Tour and Other Exciting Ocean Activities 

Where To See Dolphins In Oahu

There are many different tours to watch dolphins on Oahu, and each one will be a unique and memorable experience. There is something for everyone, whether you want to view dolphins in their natural environment or a captive situation. Some of Oahu’s top viewing options are examined in greater detail. 

One of the most well-liked activities on Oahu is going on a boat cruise to look for dolphins. Taking a boat tour is a fantastic opportunity to look for dolphin pods in the Pacific Ocean, whether on a passenger catamaran or a smaller, more personal craft. Due to the smooth ride and clear views, boat cruises are a great way to see dolphins up close.

Seeing dolphins on Oahu will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, regardless of your chosen activity. Watching dolphins in Oahu could be a fun and exciting vacation activity for the family or friends who want to do something different. 

Tours for Snorkelers: Where to See Dolphins in Oahu

If you want to see dolphins in their natural environment, you might want to sign up for a snorkeling trip. Snorkel cruises in West Oahu’s clear waters are a unique way to see these social animals in their natural environment. You may get up close and personal with these fantastic species if you have snorkeling gear and a guide who knows what they’re doing. Here are some top-rated tours that will let you swim up close!

Small Group Tours: Experience the Magic of Oahu’s Dolphin

Small group excursions may be good for people who want to see dolphins in a more personal way. The smaller the boat, the better your chances are of getting up close and personal with the dolphins and learning about their habits and environments.

A small-group tour is a wonderful way to see these gorgeous animals, whether exploring the shallow water along the shoreline of Oahu or searching for dolphins out in the open waters. 

Many of these companies use double-hulled catamaran watercraft, a great way to see dolphins in their natural habitat, and the tours are designed for small groups. This excursion is great for families with young children or anybody searching for a one-of-a-kind ocean experience, as snorkeling equipment is supplied, and participants can swim with dolphins. 

Dolphin Adventure Small Groups Vs. Large Groups 

One of the greatest advantages of small group trips is the opportunity for each participant to receive a more customized experience. If the group is small enough, you’ll get to you’ll spend more time with your guide and get more information on the dolphins and other marine species you’ll see.

If your family or group is large enough, considering chartering your boat can be worth it. With the price of a large tour divided by the number of people, you may save some money by booking a private tour for a large group. Here are some of the best tours for a large family:

The opportunity to see dolphins increases on small-group perks. Your chances of seeing dolphins up close will increase if your group is smaller so that your guide can take you to locations where dolphins concentrate.

The odds of having a successful dolphin-watching experience are higher for smaller groups since they are more nimble and can move more swiftly to follow a pod of dolphins. 

Small-group versus Large groups:

Large-group trips can feel more like a factory than a vacation due to crowding and a lack of one-on-one time with the guide and the dolphins. With fewer people around, you can focus on taking in the sights, learning about the history, and asking questions about the island of Oahu. 

When to See Dolphins: Best Time To Go and Best Tours

The best time to go dolphin watching depends on the time of year, the weather, and the particular kind of dolphin you hope to see. If you want to see dolphins while on Oahu, here’s when you can: 

West Coast Winter

The ideal time to watch dolphins in Oahu is during the winter months. Observing dol hins and other marine animals is easier at this time of year because of the cleaner, calmer waters. Most people g dolphin watching between December and April, with January and February being the best months to see them. 

The west coast of Oahu is the best area to watch dolphins during the winter. The waters are more peaceful, and the visibility is better at this time of year, making seeing pods of dolphins less challenging. The winter months are ideal for going on a dolphin-watching trip because the sky is usually clear, and the perfect time to escape the cold at home

Dolphins In Oahu

Busy Summer

June through September is the busiest time of year for dolphin watching on Oahu. During this time of year, dolphins like the Hawaiian Spinner and the Rough-toothed Dolphin gather in the warmer waters of the area. 

Whales December To April

During whale season, traveling to Oahu between December and April may allow you to see dolphins and whales on the same outing. At this time of year, whale watching is the most popular activity, but dolphins and other sea creatures are also often seen. 

Time of Day

Before breakfast and after work – To maximize your chances of seeing dolphins, it is best to plan your dolphin trip or excursion for the early morning or late afternoon. You can see you allow time since the water is calmer and the dolphins are more active. 


24/7/365 – Although dolphin sightings on Oahu are more common in the winter and during the high tourist season, you can see these lovely creatures anytime. Because of the island’s diverse wildlife, dolphin sightings are possible all year. 

Put on some sunblock and grab a pair of binoculars because you’re about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime as you scour the waters of Oahu for dolphins and other beautiful marine life. Anyone visiting the Hawaiian Islands, whether it’s their first time or they’ve been there before, should put dolphin watching at the top of their list of things to do. 

If you want to keep dolphins and other marine species safe around Oahu, you should know that the Marine Mammal Protection Act governs dolphin watching. 

Snorkel Equipment

Click here for travel-friendly snorkel gear. If we have the space, we prefer to bring our own snorkel equipment on vacation. Note: While full-face masks are popular, read the pros and cons of these types of shows.

Equipment for a snorkeling session will allow you to get even closer to the dolphins and other marine species you see on your tour. A high-quality snorkel, fins, and mask are essential equipment before setting sail. Even though some trips may supply snorkeling equipment, it’s smart to check in advance and, if required, carry your own.

Preparation and proper equipment are essential for a pleasant dolphin-watching experience. In addition to the snorkeling equipment, you should bring sun protection gear, a hat, and a towel. Before booking a tour, it’s a good idea to find out whether the company has rules on what you can bring along.

What could be better than setting sail on a passenger catamaran boat and exploring the clear waters of west Oahu? With a stable ride and a good pair of binoculars, you’ll be able to look for pods of friendly bottlenose dolphins and perhaps even catch a glimpse of the annual migration of humpback whales.

Where To Stay In Oahu?

While both Waikiki and Ko Olina are well-known tourist spots on Oahu, the island of Hawaii, they each provide visitors with a unique experience.

The area of Waikiki in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is famous for its lively nightlife, crowded shopping areas, and beach. Waikiki Beach is a long strip of sand where you can swim, sunbathe, and watch the locals go about their day.

Several hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs are also within easy walking distance of the beach, making it a fantastic spot for visitors to Honolulu. To be in the thick of things and get a feel for what a big city is like, Waikiki is a great place to stay.

Ko Olina, on the west coast of Oahu, is a quieter and more private resort. Beautiful resorts, peaceful lagoons, and top-tier golf courses have helped make this place famous. Ko Olina is a great place to go on vacation if you want to find peace. You can swim, snorkel, and kayak in the lagoons, and there are many parks and hiking trails. Many resorts in Ko Olina have activities and programs for kids, making it a great place for families.

Overall, it’s a matter of taste and what you’re hoping to get out of your time in Hawaii if you decide between Waikiki and Ko Olina. Waikiki is a wonderful neighborhood to stay in if you want to be in the middle of the action and have a memorable night out. Ko Olina is ideal for those who want a less action-packed vacation and a more luxurious one.

Below is a review of one of our favorites in each section and a map of the best deals on VRBOs and hotels in each part of the island.

Explore & Stay: the Beauty of the Ko Olina & The West Coast of Oahu

Ko Olina

The far west side of Oahu is a beautiful ocean paradise with stunning coastal views and the chance to see dolphins in their natural environment. The deeper waters of the west coast provide the perfect place to set sail on a dolphin-watching tour, with the best spots for viewing found during the winter season.

Top West Coast Resorts In Oahu:

Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

The five-star Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club is located on the western coast of Oahu in the Ko Olina resort area. Large rooms, suites, and villas are available at this resort, as are a wide range of services and entertainment options.

At the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club, all the rooms and suites are tastefully decorated. They have modern amenities like flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet access, and private balconies with ocean or garden views. The villas are even roomier, with gourmet kitchens, dining rooms, and private patios or decks.

The resort has various on-site dining options, from quick bites to gourmet meals. Many of the restaurants here offer oceanfront seating with stunning views of the Pacific, and guests can choose from a wide range of cuisines, from Hawaiian to Italian to American.

The resort’s stunning lagoon-style pool is a major draw thanks to its lazy river, waterfalls, and swim-up bar. In addition to the adult hot tub, there is a kid-only pool. The resort also features a fitness center, tennis courts, and other recreational opportunities for guests.

The resort’s gorgeous beach offers water activities like swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Also, a marina is nearby for those interested in booking a boat trip or fishing expedition.

Click here to check availability on Expedia

Other Ko Olina & West Oahu Resorts:


Waikiki Oahu

Top Waikiki Beach Resorts

Here’s one of our favorites, followed by a map of VRBOs and hotels.

Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

Located on the world-famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, is the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, a luxurious beachfront resort. The resort offers elegant rooms, various convenient services, and breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Modern conveniences such as flat-screen televisions, high-speed internet access, and private balconies with ocean or city views can be found in the spacious rooms and suites at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Kitchenettes and full kitchens are available in some suites, making them ideal for families and extended stays.

The resort has various dining options, from quick bites to gourmet meals. Many restaurants provide guests stunning views of the Pacific while dining on Hawaiian, Italian, or American fare.

The breathtaking views of the ocean and the city from the resort’s rooftop pool are major selling points. In addition to the pool, guests can relax in the spa or work out in the fitness center.

The resort can be found on Waikiki Beach, which is widely regarded as the most well-known beach in the world. Vacationers can participate in aquatic pursuits, from swimming to surfing to stand-up paddleboarding. Many other beaches and parks with a wide variety of recreational opportunities and breathtaking scenery are also nearby.

Click here to check Outrigger Waikiki availability and prices on Expedia

Other top VRBOs and hotels in Waikiki:

Getting Around Oahu

Renting a car is the most convenient way to see Oahu’s sights. When renting a car on the island, you may go wherever you like, whenever you want, and see everything there is to see. Since it is the largest airport in Oahu, Honolulu International Airport is home to many vehicle rental agencies. Rental automobile agencies are likewise spread throughout the island’s major cities.

To rent a car on the island of Oahu, drivers must be at least 21 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. When renting a car, you can usually choose between compact automobiles, sedans, and SUVs or premium SUVs and cars.

Getting around Oahu by car is usually easy and safe, but you should know a few things. Before anything else, know that heavy traffic is common on many Oahu roadways, especially during peak tourist times. Second, the island’s roads can be twisting and narrow in more rural areas.

Get the best rental car deals here:

Discovercars.comIunyh71E?A Aid=Familytravelpath&Amp;A Bid=F29909E9

A Final Word on Respect for Marine Life

When it comes to dolphin watching, it’s important to be a responsible and respectful observer of marine life. Always follow the guidelines set by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and avoid disturbing the dolphins’ natural habitats. By choosing a responsible tour operator and following guidelines, you can help ensure that these incredible creatures will be around for generations.


Dolphins, sea turtles, and tropical fish are some of the beautiful sea creatures on the Hawaiian Islands. Oahu has plenty to offer everyone, whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-time dolphin viewer. There are many ways to see dolphins, from snorkeling trips to small group trips, so every family or group can find a great option. 

Seeing these amazing creatures in their natural habitats is one of the highlights of dolphin watching in Oahu. Whether you’re in the shallow waters of Waianae Boat Harbor or on a double-hulled catamaran, the beauty and majesty of these creatures will amaze you. 

If you want to watch dolphins responsibly, you should learn about and abide by the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s standard to refrain from doing anything that could stress or hurt marine mammals. Doing this will help keep the dolphins and other marine animals on Oahu alive for future generations. 

In conclusion, if you want a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Hawaiian Islands, the best thing to do is go on a dolphin-watching trip. The question then becomes, “Why not get “started” right away?” If you want to see the happy dolphins that live in the waters around Oahu, pack your binoculars and snorkeling gear and set sail on an adventure you’ll never forget. Your loved ones will always remember the time spent together with gratitude.

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