Q:Where are you located/what harbor to you launch from?
A. We are located on the "Big Island" of Hawai'i - not to be confused with Oahu.
We operate our tours from Honokohau Harbor in Kailua-Kona. The closest airport to fly into is Kona International Airport (KOA). If you've booked a tour with us and are looking for the pavilion where we greet our guests take the VERY FIRST right turn after entering Honokohau Harbor. Take an immediate left turn after the small gas station and park at the brown pavilion ahead on your right in the center of the parking lot between the two launch ramps. We'll meet you there just before 7:30am unless other arrangements have been made.
Q: What kinds of wildlife can we expect to see on your safari?
A: No two days are the same and while we'll do our best to accommodate our guest's interests, a lot of our excursions are weather dependent. We'll aim for the calmest conditions in areas with the highest probability of encountering a number of dolphin and shark species, as well as manta rays, turtles, and other marine mammals. We are able to view Humpback Whales seasonally from late December through late March, but most of our other encounters occur nearly year-round.
Q:Is this a swimming tour?
A: We'll do our best to find opportunities to passively view the animals we encounter in the water but please understand that it never comes at the animal's expense. If we determine that an animal is showing avoidant tendencies or appears to be in a rest phase then we'll carry on in an attempt to find something we're not at risk of disrupting/disturbing. Your ability to snorkel confidently and follow directions well will also determine if we feel comfortable putting you in the water. All the animals we view are wild and will be treated with the utmost respect; your safety and that of the animals, always comes first so we do not guarantee an in-water viewing of the animals we see. It is case-by-case specific.
Q: Do you provide snorkel gear?
A: Yes, we have a wide array of snorkels, masks, fins, and flotation devices onboard. We do not provide wetsuits.
Q:How many guests can your boat hold?
A: We've designed our tour to cater up to six passengers. Unfortunately we do not have the ability to accommodate larger groups at this time.
Q: Is there a minimum for a tour to run?
A: Typically we'd need four guests on board for a trip to run. If you're a solo traveler we'll do our best to accommodate you but make every effort to be flexible while you're here.
Q: Do I need to be able to swim?
A: Only if you intend to get in the water. If you're hoping to snorkel we'd wholeheartedly recommend practicing in the pool until your overly comfortable donning snorkel equipment, and swimming for brief periods with your face continuously in the water.
Q: Do I need to be SCUBA or free dive certified to come on your tour?
A: No, the only requirement is confidence snorkeling. We do not offer SCUBA services onboard.
Q: Is there an age limit on your tour?
A: We'd love to have any member of your group along for the experience but keep in mind that this is an open ocean tour, meaning the wind can pick up and the water can become rough. Weather conditions can change quickly and can make for a very bumpy ride. This tour is not recommended for anyone with back injuries or pregnant women concerned about a bouncing boat. If you have an elderly group member or children under the age of 10 and are unsure as to whether they would enjoy the full four-hour tour we'd recommend booking a private charter to ensure that we could custom tailor the trip to your needs.
Q: Do you offer military, kama'aina, senior, or kids discounts?
A: As our guest count is limited by the coast guard and not by age/weight, each guest is equal and we do not currently offer any discounts.
Q: Is there a weight limit on your boat?
A: Yes, we've set our weight limit at 250lbs or 115kilos. Our boat is a spacious 24ft Sea Pro with a wide beam and high gunnels, however for ease of access and guest safety we need to restrict our passenger weight. We have two sturdy ladders at the back of the boat that you'll need to be able to ascend unassisted if you're planning to enter the water.
Q: Do you take pictures during the tour?
A: Yes, we do often take pictures of the wildlife while we're out on the water to contribute to science. Our focus is always on safety, but if we manage any images of our guests we do our best to pass them along. If you'd like to have your experience documented underwater there's an additional $300USD fee.
Q: Do you have underwater cameras available for rent?
A: If you'd like to use a GoPro 4k camera to document the experience, please message us or annotate that in your booking and we'll get it to you at check-in. The rental cost is $40USD which includes a 32GB memory card to take your footage home with you.
Q: What sunscreen should I buy?
A: We only allow reef-safe sunscreen on our tour. Your sunscreen's Active Ingredients should list NON-NANO Zinc Oxide and or Titanium Dioxide. That's it. We recommend Australian Gold's Botanical Cream sunscreens (not the spray!), Amavara, Little Hands, or Stream2Sea sunscreen.
Q: I just heard that there's a high wind/small craft advisory for Hawai'i Island, should we be going out?
A: We do our best to anticipate ocean conditions and spend a lot of time monitoring the weather. Kona is quite fortunate to generally be in the lee of both Mauna Kea AND Mauna Loa, two of the largest mountains on the planet (from the seafloor). We'll be in contact the night prior if we feel that there's cause for concern or conditions that would limit our ability to showcase Kona's wildlife.
General / Hawai'i FAQ
Alicia & Jim Ward
Q: I'm traveling to Maui/Kauai/Oahu, do you have recommendations for the other islands?
A: As of right now we're still working to build relationships with operators on the other islands.
If you are on Oahu, we suggest booking a tour with Dolphin Excursions.
We are unaware of any other operators that offer tours similar to ours on all other islands. Hawai'i Island is unique in that its underwater shelf drops quickly, this depth allows us to view the variety of pelagic life that makes our tour special. If your hope is to have an experience like what we offer, we recommend you set aside a few days to come to Kona and join us for an adventure!
Q: Where should I stay while I'm on island?
A. While we understand that there's a feel-good vibe associated with staying in a VRBO or an AIRBNB, we feel compelled to acknowledge the dramatic effects both companies have had to our island home. You may think you're supporting a local family, but most homes being rented out on these websites were actually bought up by mainlanders and have driven both the rental market and the housing market sky high. Many local families have fallen on hard times due to the rising cost of housing in the Hawaiian Islands brought on by mainland influence in the real estate market. If you want to support locals, we recommend staying in one of the many hotels or bed and breakfasts throughout the islands. There, you're supporting a multitude of Hawai'i families from concierges, to housekeeping, to wait staff and more.
Here are some local hotels and B&Bs you can check out!
Keauhou (15min drive from Kona)
Holualoa (20min drive from Kona)
Kealakekua (30min drive from Kona)
Waikoloa (45min drive from Kona)
If you insist on renting an AIRBNB or VRBO, be sure to inquire where the landlord is located and whether they live in Hawai'i full or at least part time and remember to be courteous of the neighbors.
For Car Rentals, check out our friends at Hawai'i Lifted Jeep Rentals and be sure to book well in advance as they book up quickly!
Q. What is the best season to visit Hawai'i?
A. We have temperate weather year-round and no season is considered better than the other unless you're coming with the wishes of viewing Humpback Whales and large waves, which are both seasonal (December - March). Other than that, our weather is generally pleasant January - December. Summer months are considered hurricane season but storms that actually hit the islands are few and far between. Surf tends to peak on the South and East side of the islands during Sumer while Winter time brings waves up to 40ft+ to North and occasionally West facing shores. Windward sides of the islands generally tend to get more rain than Leeward sides of the island but you'll likely see sunny days more often than not on your trip!
Q. What type of services do you offer?
A. Aside from running our eco-safari, we routinely work as local Hawai'i photographers, videographers, and as social media influencers but we also offer our services as water safety coordinators, water stunt performers, underwater specific costume creation, and local Hawai'i production. Both of us are SCUBA & First Aid certified and are competent freedivers.
We are available to hire for a variety of underwater photoshoots - we do everything from mermaids to maternity, product shoots, fashion shoots, music videos, wildlife, etc. - We specialize in making your underwater visions come to life and are always open to new ideas!
Q. What kind of camera gear do you have?
A. We operate Nikon, Canon, and DJI gear. Each camera has a specific function (topside filming / underwater filming / underwater photography /aerial footage). Our most robust video camera offers 4K footage at 120fps and 8k RAW footage at 30fps. Our photography stills camera creates images using a 46.6mpx sensor. Our UAV films 4k at 30fps.
Q. What are your rates?
A. Rates are dependent on a number of different variables. Please feel free to contact us with a specific request.
A typical shoot starts at 400$/hour.
Q. Are prints of your photos available for purchase?
A. Yes! If there is an image of ours that you would like to have printed, please contact us with the dimensions and material you'd like to have the image(s) printed on and we'll create a quote for you!
Q. Who are some of your previous clients?
A. Samsung, Aqualung, "O" Oprah Magazine, Sandal's Resorts, PADI, Hyundai, The White House (United States of America), Instagram, The Wall Street Journal, Sotheby's Realty, Capitol Records (UMG), GMC, Mattel, LG, Pacific Boats and Yachts, Brandy Melville, Tidepool Love Jewelry, Kokoh bikinis, Gypsea Swimwear, 21° North Jewellery, Pearl Love Jewelry, 2 Chillies Swimwear, J.W. Marriott (Ihilani), Necker Island Resort, FreeSurf Magazine, and Kama'aina Kids.
Q. What brands do you represent / support?
We are both honored ambassadors for AquaLung .
We are represented by DaFin and find their products to be superiorly crafted - giving us both maneuverability and power in the water.
Alicia is an ambassador for Mohala Eyewear which is owned by Hawai'i local, Ashley Marika, who donates one week of school to the Room to Read Girls’ Education Program for each purchase.