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“Indescribable!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Wild Side Specialty Tours

Wild Side Specialty Tours
Ranked #1 of 15 Tours in Waianae
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: #1 Best whale watching, swimming with dolphins and snorkeling tour on Oahu, and deemed one of the top 5 whale-watching tours in America! Bucket-list marine wildlife encounters since 1996. More than just seeing amazing and indigenous creatures, deep connections and a true sense of place are gained. Six to ten passenger charters (two boats) with published marine-biologist, guest adventures are maximized to blend with wildlife conservation. Whale watching and swimming with wild dolphins year-round, charters include guided snorkeling tours over sea turtle reefs on Oahu's wild west side. Awarded Hawaii Ecotourism Associations' Sustainable Tourism Certificate, Wild Side is an internationally recognized marine tours company conducting environmentally responsible marine interactions. They aggressively participate in environmental protection through education and action, and promote sustainable travel and donate part of its revenue to the Wild Dolphin Foundation dedicated to marine conservation and education, regulatory reform, and research.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Omaha, Nebraska
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Indescribable!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 13, 2013

Words truly cannot express the life impact this tour has on you. Having the joy of seeing a pod of bottle-nosed dolphins with two baby-calves swimming in harmony - checking out your boat, and then your humanness in the water - is truly amazing. I never care to see another captured dolphin again. Typically you see spinner dolphins on this tour - but our captain took us in the direction of "something else" away from the large commercial tour boats - - - and there was a family of bottle-noted dolphins. Don't expect this to be a 'flipper' encounter - it's so much more than that. You literally just jump into the middle of the ocean at the capt's command, and there you are - with the family of dolphins swimming toward you or below you and you move with them as they go by.

As the family of bottle-nosed dolphins moved further north, our capt Tori spotted a group of "spotted dolphins." More than a small pod - these guys travel in gangs, and aim to delight with their out-of-water maneuvers. At one point, the capt began to shout from above, "If you wanna see em get in NOW!!!" Stunned, we all quickly geared up and jumped into find 20-30 of these small dolphins swimming below us. Absolutely stunning. It was if there was no end in sight to where they could swim. Just water above, below, in front/back. (And yes, that feeling can be a little daunting at times!)

After leaving the dolphins, we headed towards sure to view a family of sea turtles being cleaned up by the reef fish. Again a site you won't see in an aquarium environment.

This is a don't miss tour. Yes, it costs more - but when you see the other boats pulling off the dock with 30-40 people; you be glad you paid a little extra for taking a tour with only 6 people.

Amazing day..

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank billy c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wild_Side_Hawaii, Owner at Wild Side Specialty Tours, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
This was such heartwarming review, I just headlined it for all to see on our Best of the West webpage. I especially loved your comment on no more captive dolphins ever again. YAY, mission accomplished! You guys made our day also, your enthusiasm and willingness were catching. When I overheard your travel partner ask about getting in with the spotted, I looked back behind us and conditions were perfect, incoming dolphins - go now! Thank you so much for taking the time to share,
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English first
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“We got a rare occasion of seeing pilot whales and swam with them too!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 11, 2013 via mobile

It's hard to explain how amazing this excursion is. Not only do you have a limited size party of 6 people, you get to know them along with the staff in a great experience of dolphins and other marine life. It's worth waking up early, driving an hour from Waikiki and everything else. You get a lil lunch that's hard to even eat because all you want to do is get back in the water. We got an rare chance to see pilot whales and even allowed to get in the water to swim. This was my 2nd time with them and my husbands first. We will come to Oahu again just for this! It's a must go over anything.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Maiducali
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wild_Side_Hawaii, Owner at Wild Side Specialty Tours, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Perfect, looking forward to wow'ing you again next time! You won't have time to eat anything :)
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Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Best day of the honeymoon!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 9, 2013

Of all the stuff we did on our honeymoon, this was by far the best! This experience was better than we imagined it could be. We swam in a pod of wild spinner dolphins and their babies... there were so many of them, all around us, perfectly open to us joining them. We swam with sea turtles (not just one but 5 or 6), we saw tons of fish and eels and urchins, etc. Then while we were looking for another place to snorkel we came across a huge pod of pilot whales! It was so fun watching them watching us and swimming all around. We could hear them talking to each other which I thought was amazing. They had babies with them too. We got in the water for a little peak at them and it was so amazing to see these huge whales dive down below us to swim under our boat, totally breathtaking. I've never experienced anything like that before.
The whole trip was amazing. The staff was perfect. They were 3 of the nicest, most caring girls I have ever seen! They made sandwiches for us for lunch which were awesome and were there to answer every question we had about everything. They took their own photos and then sent them to us the next day, truly amazing hospitality. I can't say enough good things about this trip. There were only 6 of us out for the trip that day which was exactly perfect.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Ashley S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wild_Side_Hawaii, Owner at Wild Side Specialty Tours, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Awww... thanks! That is our goal, to exceed expectations. Glad we nailed it again! Hey, you got some great photos... Love the pilot whale shot and the boat! Can you share? I think we shared ours... if not, we will!
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Denver, Colorado
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Choose Wild Side Best of the West”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 7, 2013

We did the best of the west tour on Aug. 31, 2013 and had a wonderful experience. Only 6 guests on board with 2 crew and the captain, Tori. Crew was helpful, gear clean and functional, and boat was very nice. Go to the front of the boat for the best views/ride. We saw dolphins and turtles and it seemed like you see them almost every outing. The crew knows where to go (and unfortunately these places are quite crowded with other snorkelers, but the crew tries to minimize this). After we saw the dolphins and turtles close to shore, we went out into the ocean and were lucky enough to see a large group of pilot whales.

Captain Tori knows so much about these animals and the ocean in general. You can tell she has a genuine love and respect for marine life. The crew was taking lots of photos to help identify marine marine mammals for the Hawai'i government and other organizations that look after our friends in the ocean. And they even share these photos with guests!

Make sure to wear a rash gaurd/sunshirt. Snorkeling is one of the best ways to get a sunburn and you don't want to spend time reapplying or feel like you need to get out of the ocean in the middle of a swim because you are getting burnt. Also, they told us sunscreen is not good for the ocean so rub in your sunscreen well and don't apply immediately before you get into the ocean.

There are tons of boat trip options on Oahu but stop wasting time looking at all of them and just book with Wild Side Specialty Tours! Enjoy!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Emily B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wild_Side_Hawaii, Owner at Wild Side Specialty Tours, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Emily, you should be a travel writer, you have the knack girl-finned. Tell your mom I said that so she will bring you back (more travel). I'll give you a rash guard to use... :) Seriously, you should start a blog, or do you have one? Great turtles shots too!
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Bozeman
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Incredibly we became part of the pod!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 6, 2013

Captain Amon understood and anticipated where the dolphins would move. He put the boat in an excellent position to intercept and merge in to swim with Spinners. We saw 20 or more dolphins that day. They were just lounging, barely moving their flukes, but we had to work hard to keep up. The Highlight was seeing a baby nurse 10 yards away and having the mother know that I was no threat. If I hadn't experienced it, I would never have thought it possible to be a part of their world for 20 minutes or more - serene and surreal at the same time. Those who are adept swimmers or athletes will likely see more of the dolphins than less fit patrons. Our competive swimmer daughters kept with the pod for even longer until we had to chase them down with the boat. I think they would have followed the pod to the end of the earth. Thanks to our marine biologist guide Noel, for teaching us dolphin etiquette - not to splash, to just kick avoiding using flailing swimming arms because dolphins dont have arms, as well as avoiding swimming directly at them but instead merging in to swim alongside them. The tour we choose made all the difference because the crew knew how to approach and avoid scaring dolphins. Other boats dropped 20 people in the water in a mess of splashing chaos and the dolphins bolted. Definitely use Wild Side if you want a superior experience in the dolphin's world. This experience ranks right up there with seeing blue whales breach and display tail flukes off Santa Cruz and swimming with huge sea turtles, seals, penguins and iguanas in Galapagos! Thanks Noel and Amon, you're the best!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Kris H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wild_Side_Hawaii, Owner at Wild Side Specialty Tours, responded to this review, September 21, 2013
Oh I am getting a big ole sperm whale head, we rate up there with the Galapagos? Whoo-hoo! It is quite an unique area over here on the west (best) coast of Oahu, and Hawaii is much more isolated - the most isolated place on earth. Now, if we could just get rid of that traffic....

Part of the pod, lovely. That is our goal - not just to 'say you saw' a dolphin, but just that - to blend into a dolphins world, on a dolphins terms. You nailed it, and the girls made us all proud.
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