Thanks to the generous efforts of local homeschool families, there are a lot of field trip opportunities available through various homeschool support groups. When a chance came up to join a group on a snorkeling tour by boat, we jumped on it! We've gone twice before, with different companies each time, and loved it every time. Previously, my husband and I did an adult tour with Ko'Olina Ocean Adventures. Another time, Big Sis (then 6 years old) and I went out with Dolphin Excursions in Waianae. We were able to see dolphins up close and personal each time. Once, I was blessed with seeing a mom with her baby come up for air just about 10 feet in front of me! Another time, we noticed that the pod of dolphins were playing a game with a plastic bag, which was both cute because of their playfulness and sad because of the blatant reminder of the pollution and plastic trash filling our oceans and impacting the creatures who live there - and indirectly, us as well.
This Friday's field trip was with Dolphins & You in Waianae and involved the whole family! It was Lil Sis' first time out on a boat since she was a baby and her first time for open water snorkeling (versus staying close to the beach). Big Sis was thrilled at the chance to go again since it's been a couple of years. Both of them did fantastic! Lil Sis was a bit nervous at first but after she got in the water the first time, she was begging to go back in again and again. We didn't get pictures of it, but the boat also had an inflatable slide, a paddle board, and a kayak that all the kids seemed to enjoy.
The tour was titled "swim with wild dolphins", but unfortunately we didn't spot any dolphins underwater this time around, but we did see them jumping and spinning in the water nearby. Many of us also heard them underwater too! I think a few of our tour mates did get to see them underwater, but we were some of the last people in the water, so we kind of missed out on that. We also had a potty break for both kids that delayed us getting in the second time around. Nonetheless, we all had a good time and enjoyed seeing plenty of fish and what looked like a family of turtles (two or three large/adult turtles and a smaller turtle along with them)!
The crew was very kind, entertaining, helpful, and friendly. I couldn't say enough good things about them. They danced, offered assistance, seemed attentive to needs, served hamburgers, and went above expectations. At least a couple of the crew were certified lifesavers (lifeguards?). They also had a professional photographer along for the ride. There was an extra charge for those photos and we did not purchase them, but she seemed to be really great about catching good shots of the participants and dove underwater to get images of the sea life. Like the rest of the staff, she was very warm and friendly.
The food served was a small issue for me since I have Celiac and can't consume wheat, rye, or barley, as well as try very hard to avoid "cross contamination" (and there was bread crumbs everywhere). However, they didn't seem to have any problem with the fact that I brought my own food and I was careful to avoid touching the buns and rinsed my hands well afterward (although the public bathrooms were closed so we had to use water & such from our van).
Would I recommend a tour like this one to a friend? Yes! Would I recommend this company? Sure! I would actually say that any one of the companies I mentioned could result in a fun trip... we enjoyed each tour we've done for different reasons. They each were different lengths and one was for adults only. Only one served food. I think at least one of them did not have a restroom on board (Dolphins & You *did* have one though, thank goodness), so be sure to ask about that before you book if it's important to you! We were able to take advantage of a nice group rate since it was booked through our local homeschool group, so if you have friends that would like to go as well, definitely ask about a discount for private or group events. If you've gone on tours like this, I'd love to hear more! As always, feel free to email me, comment below, or join me on Facebook!
P.S. I am not associated or affiliated with any of the above named tour companies. This is not a sponsored review or ad and I have not been financially or otherwise compensated for this blog post. I am simply sharing our personal experience for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please always do your own research and make an educated decision and personal choice prior to engaging with any product or service. Realize that activities such as this carry inherent risks for which you must be aware and responsible. If you have any questions about the tours or the companies themselves, please contact the company directly.
Whew! There are TONS of great field trip and activity opportunities on this island! If you're in need of some ideas, you'll be pleased to hear (read?) that I've added a new page to the Oahu Homeschool Mom website: Field Trip Ideas! Please check it out, let me know what you think, and be sure to tell me if there is anything I should add, change, update, remove, or include.
You can find the Field Trip Idea page under the Resources link at the top right of any page, or by clicking on this link (or by copy & pasting this into your browser:
Enjoy! Be sure to check back and let me know about your favorite field trips!
Though I prefer fresh wild fish, Alii Agriculture Farm (located near Whitmore Village in Wahiawa) recently opened for recreational fishing and I thought I'd share it with you all in case someone was interested in taking their child for fun or trying to contact them about the possibility of a field trip. We have not done a field trip there yet, so I'm not sure if they are open to the idea of having a group attend and, if so, if they can (or not) provide an educational experience or talk at the time. Regardless, however, those that I know who have gone as an individual or family said they enjoyed the experience. I noticed it was very busy over the weekend (on sunny days), so if you are able to, consider a visit during the week.
I'm told it was 15 for admission (including the bait and bamboo pole) and then it's 6$ a pound for anything you catch. I think it is mostly tilapia. Perhaps a homeschool group or co-op would be able to negotiate a discount for a group rate?
It appears they are open 7 days a week from 9am-5pm. For more information, try calling 808-690-0558. They are on Whitmore Avenue (on the right, in the grassy area, before you reach Whitmore Village), off of Kamehameha Ave.
The light at the intersection of Kam Hwy and Whitmore Ave is also where you would find the Kukaniloko Birth Stones (on the left) - another field trip idea! Maybe combine the two? If you drive further down Whitmore Avenue, you'd find the Helemano Tree Farm (which sells Christmas Trees at that time of year).
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.