Swim Guidelines

Guidelines For Swimming With Dolphins

It is our hope that these suggestions will help to protect Hawaii’s dolphins from unintentional harm.

  1. Let the dolphins approach you. Maintain a quiet, relaxed manner when swimming among or near them. Avoid separating dolphins from the pod at large.
  2. Swim with your hands by your sides. Chasing after, reaching for, or touching the dolphins will frighten or startle them, and they will move away. Be as quiet as possible when moving through the water.
  3. Leave foreign objects aboard, such as rope, plastics, or play toys. Dolphins prefer to find and play with leaves and other organic debris. Follow their lead.
  4. Trust in nature’s food supply. To attempt to feed wild dolphins would be harmful to their health needs as well as their social behaviors and it is illegal.
  5. Be sensitive to dolphin behaviors. If they are in a state of rest or traveling, please respect that they may choose not to interact with you. Honor their habitat.
  6. Be considerate. Watch out for other swimmers, allowing them adequate space for an intimate encounter.
  7. Be cautious approaching the dolphins. Watch for swimmers. When near the dolphins, go slowly, quietly, and with focused attention so as not to disturb or change their course or behaviors.
  8. Avoid sudden actions or noise. Erratic changes in speed, direction, or sound can confuse or startle dolphins.
  9. Avoid diving down with dolphins. Dolphins play out a cat-and-mouse game with their predators every day of their lives. In the unlikely event that a predator does charge a dolphin you do not want to be close to them underwater. Your guides on the boat will explain.
  10. Everyone will be wearing a life jacket for the dolphin swim.
Swimming with DolphinsObserve the Law

Dolphins are protected by U.S. Federal law under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, Amended in 1994. Under the act, it is illegal to harass, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. Swimmers and boaters should make every effort to avoid disturbing them in their natural environment. For a more detailed look at the law, please ask the captain for the Marine Mammal Protection Act Record.

Know Your Limits

Stay within a safe distance from the boat, (a safe distance would be only as far as your willing to swim back alone.) Watch for changing weather and sea conditions (the captain and crew are also watching for changes.) If you have any concerns about your safety before you get in the water stay aboard the vessel, while in the water, use the signal shown to you by our crew for help if you feel you need it, we will come to your aid.

Common Behaviors

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are found feeding in the coastal waters offshore at night. During the day, they move into waters near shore and protected bays to rest and play. Dolphins at rest will surface for only brief periods of time, sustaining long deep dives together as a pod for 1.5 to 2 minutes. In this state, they show little interest in humans.
Play mode is indicated by an increase in their aerial behavior, vocalization, splitting into smaller groups, and speeding up, generally favorable conditions for dolphins to initiate an encounter with humans.

Sustainability Commitment Statement

We here at Dolphin Excursions Hawaii, Inc. support the Hawaii Ecotourism Association’s principles of sustainable tourism, which addresses operating principles in the following content areas:

  • Environmental Management
  • Staff Management
  • Interpretation Management
  • Consumer Evaluation Management
  • Marketing Management

For more information, please visit: http://www.hawaiiecotourism.org/