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“Great fun”

Captain Zodiac Raft Expeditions
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Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Captain Zodiac has entertained guests for over 42 years on our exciting 24-foot Zodiac rafts. You will see the rugged coastline up close as you explore a sea cave and see exposed lava tubes, blowholes and archways. You will snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Kealakekua Bay Marine preserve viewing over 150 varieties of fish. You must keep a sharp eye out for pods of dolphins, whales and other marine mammals that come close to our rafts. The Zodiac ride is fast, fun and educational! You will hear about the Hawaiian history of the area, learn about marine life behaviors and learn the island’s geology.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
193 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 132 helpful votes
“Great fun”
Reviewed August 28, 2013

Did this trip as a tour off a cruise 7 years ago and it was nice to see it hadn't changed. Still a lot of fun, it is a rough, fast and wild ride but that's part of why you choose to do this by zodiac and not by mega booze-type party cruiser. The snorkeling in Hawai'i is amazing and from a zodiac is pretty cool. If you're concerned about getting BACK in this type of boat from the water - no worries here - they are a great help and have an appropriate ladder for getting back on board. So only those with compromised mobility will have trouble, but they will be the same folks who would have trouble with the rough ride anyway.

The captain and his first mate were highly knowledgeable and skilled and gave lots of info on the wildlife, fish, the area geology, volcanoes, Pele, and they capitalized on opportunties to show us all sorts of stuff. We saw a tiger shark, pod of spinner dolphins, and green turtles and as you know you cannot "plan" to see of any of that so once spotted captain made sure we all had a chance to see them and imparted some appropriate factoids while doing so. Because of the flexibility and capability of the zodiac we went in close to view cliffs and lava rocks. He also made the boat ride fun and showed us some of what a navy seal approved zodiac can do!

But not everything is perfect, right? My only disappointment was we had hoped for a second snorkel site (or somewhere other than the Captain Cook memorial park because we had done that previously). This was the 5 hour beat-the-crowd tour that specifically mentioned a second snorkel site was possible based on conditions and captains discretion. The other tours never mentioned the possibility of a second site and were advertised specifically as visiting Captain Cook site on a 4 hour morning or afternoon tour. Don't get me wrong this Captain Cook area is phenomenal snorkeling and we enjoyed it a great deal. But most everyone was back on the boat 45 min later and wondering what was next. This area is also quite crowded with many other boats so getting kicked in the head by the inexperienced and those lacking in dive or snorkel etiquette is to be expected.

Bottom line, I'd do it again. :)

Visited August 2013
Thank Sunsequitur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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828 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Wow! Great fun!”
Reviewed August 26, 2013

I took the Captain Zodiac tour on August 21, 2013 and had a wonderful time. Captain Chris and his mate Caleb were very personable and knowledgeable about the sea life that we saw. They also went out of their way to let us see the pod of False Killer Whales which were in the area (I guess they are fairly rare around there) and also we were able to see massive amounts of Hawaiian Spinning Dolphins. This was all before we went snorkeling! The snorkeling itself was extremely beautiful. I saw tons of beautiful fish and others in my party saw a turtle and an eel. Overall it was a great adventure and my only regret is that I wasn't able to convince my other friends and family who were cruising NCL with me, to come on the excursion with me. Oh well, they saw the videos I took and they'll be coming next time for sure!

Visited August 2013
Thank Sy_Snootles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cresskill, New Jersey
Level Contributor
46 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Best marine life and snorkel trip ever!”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

Always wanted to go snorkeling at Captain Cook's Monument, but was too lazy to kayak over or walk myself. Never could have imagined that going out with the Zodiac was so much more than "just" the best snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay. Captain Shane and Mate Jennifer were super, they made me and my family of four laugh, feel at ease on the water and showed us so many amazing wildlife. We hit our first group of dolphins right out of the harbor, spotted dolphins. Then Shane got news that a group of whales was spotted off the coast, so we made a little detour, so worth it, we encountered a group of 8-9 whales gently cruising along. Amazing number two! At Captain's Cook Monument, the snorkeling of course was great, especially after mid-day when the big boats left and we had the bay all to ourselves. Can definitely recommend the mid-day tour they have three times a week, just for this reason. Then a giant group of spinner dolphins came along to swim with us, got to shoot some amazing go-pro footage from really up-close-and-personal. Going back hugging the coast line with thrilling turns around the lava caves. And right before docking we spotted the last of our big five: a sea turtle was feeding on the algae and we had to find a different docking spot. All four of us agreed: best trip ever, if it was up to my kids, they'd do this every single day.

Visited August 2013
Thank Aske_f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hilo, Hawaii, United States
1 review
“Exhilarating, fun, memorable — a must-do if you’re on the Big Island”
Reviewed August 21, 2013

This was my second time snorkeling in Captain Cook and it was, by far, the more memorable experience. My husband and I live in Hilo, and on this tour, we felt so close to nature! A major part of what made the tour so special was Captain Colin and his teammate Caleb. Both were uber-friendly, knowledgeable, and friendly. Their love for the ocean was contagious.

We had the rare chance to get a close-up view of a 15-foot shark less than three feet away from our boat. Capt. Colin knew just how to maneuver around the shark, so that both sides of the boat got a good view. The ride over to and from Captain Cook was full of special treats, including, at least a dozen dolphins swimming by and a cute baby dolphin doing some amazing jumps and turns out of the water.

Riding on a raft with a smaller group—versus a big boat with a ton of strangers—felt more intimate.

I was so impressed by how well the crew took care of us. Capt. Colin took the time to teach some newbie snorkelers and even brought extra hair ties for us girls with long hair!

Visited August 2013
Thank Millie-PlanetHilo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
38 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Wild ride and best snorkeling of the trip”
Reviewed August 18, 2013

Captain Andy and mate Blake showed my family of four a great time. Captain Andy was very funny and knowledgable. He really enjoyed showing you what the performance of the Zodiac boat. Mate Blake was friendly and full of information about the island. We saw two types of dolphins... spinners and pacific bottle nose (which they said was rare). There were many in each pod... but they said we had an unusual experience as some days they don't see any dolphins. The snorkeling was in a protected bay where the water was calm and the fish and coral were abundant. The water was a beautiful turquoise blue and clear to 50 feet. This is a trip we will do again and we will request Captain Andy.

Visited August 2013
Thank vwtalbert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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