We went on turtle tours a couple of days ago. Circle tours to be exact. We had Damien and Cliff. Let me first state, that Damien the Driver was fabulous and very knowledgable. Cliff on the other hand was a wanna be local and completely full of useless information. He was very sarcastic and used that "humor" to make fun of the passengers. He bragged about getting things for free and not paying his way because he knew how to "hustle". It was very bizarre to say the least.
The bus picked us up a bit late, understandable though due to the major traffic in Waikiki. We were excited when we finally climbed on board. The goal of the tour was for it to be intimate and flexible. The intimate part was spot on, it was a small bus. Not a huge tour bus. It was great until a few passengers and I discovered throughout the day it was infested with cock roaches. I personally saw dozens that would come out when the bus was turned off at stops.. :-( Please, set traps!! It was disgusting.
Here's the flexibility part.. It wasn't flexible!! We supposedly past by areas which movies were filmed at, such as Jurassic Park and 50 first dates but we didn't stop. Even though a few people requested it. The worse part was this Cliff guy didn't even point them out! He said it was coming up, 5 minutes later when asked if we were almost there, he said we passed it back there.. Really!! Thanks jerk, why don't you try doing your job properly as a tour guide..
We stopped at a shack for lunch. If you are hungry and want to eat, this is your only option. There is no other place. They overcharge and take advantage of this fact. $15 for 4 shrimps, a few pieces of lettuce and a small spoon full of rice.. All their plates are $15. You can't order anything tapas style. Cash only. I don't mind spending money on food, huge foodie here. However, this place was a huge disappointment. Tasted like Costco shrimp.
They had paddle boarding at this place for $20 extra if you didn't want to snorkel.
We headed over to the snorkeling area, which had a ton of food trucks and local places to eat. It would have been fantastic if we could have been able to explore and choose our lunch at that area. Of course cliff guy wouldn't get a kick back or free lunch. However, as adults we could have decided what WE wanted to eat and whom we wanted to give our business to.
The snorkel gear was used and taped up because it was old.. They don't even give you a new mouth piece. :-/ They wash it in a bin with dishwashing soap.. I still tried to make the best of it. Unfortunately, there wasn't turtles on the beach. Nor did we see turtles when snorkeling. Pretty sad about that but it is nature, not a zoo. Not much anyone could do about it. We saw beautiful fish! 1 hour for snorkeling wasn't enough time. I barely got the hang of it and comfortable with the process about 30 minutes into the hour. More time would have been much appreciated.
We headed to the Dole plantation and here's where things get extremely awkward and uncomfortable. Cliff kept mentioning there is a ATM machine at this site and that he only gets paid by tips and that's how he pay's for his bills and survive. Sounds like a personal problem buddy. The entire drive back he keeps talking about money.
Once we arrived in the Waikiki area he took out a cup and continued his sob story of needing to pay his bills with tips.. The first stop a group of about 4 teenagers were dropped off. Really sweet kids. They thanked the guys, said bye. Once the doors shut and we drove off cliff guy started speaking badly about the teens and saying "what did I do wrong, no tip". I made it a point to say we all paid a good amount of money to be on this tour and maybe some people, especially teenagers couldn't afford to tip! He didn't respond, he acted as if he didn't hear me.
Finally it was our stop. I really wish I could have given a tip to Damien because again, he was great! Completely humble and kind. Unfortunately, any tip for him he must split with begging for money cliff guy. So, I didn't tip.
We went on many tours and all of them were given by actual locals, whom knew what they were talking about and no one even mentioned a tip. I gladly showed them a token of my appreciation.
Overall, I would do the tour again if a few modifications were made.
No con artist Cliff, cock roach traps, and options of places to eat for lunch. :-)