It takes a lot of energy to not throw up on boat on the open ocean when you can get seasick while reading a text message in the car. A lot of energy.
So much, that it took me a couple hours to fully recover from the feeling even after we had returned to land. I can only imagine how much longer it would have taken if I didn’t get that jolt of adrenaline and absolute euphoria that came with swimming among dozens of dolphins in their own playground.
It was a life experience. And totally worth the motion sickness.
I feel like it’s a really good measure of an experience when the dudes who do it every day can’t stop talking about how active the dolphins were, how sociable they were, how long they played and how calm the water was.
What if it weren’t that calm? Man, the stars aligned for us.
The whole thing was pretty unreal. We boarded a small boat that maybe fit about 20 people or so, grabbed our snorkel gear, listened to instructions about what may happen in the water, and once they spotted the pods – they cut the engine and we slipped into the water.
*Pro tip: Wear reef-safe, high-SPF sunscreen especially on your back when you snorkel since you swim belly-down for a while. I learned the hard way, so.
This wasn’t like a scuba adventure, where divers jump into the water. With the dolphins, which were swimming in this cove as part of their after-meal social time, you had to be kind of smooth getting into the water. You’re supposed to be streamlined and stealth.
It took us only a few minutes of swimming to all of a sudden see a bouquet of dark shadows coming alongside us. And as they got closer – and they get close – you’ll see mom and baby pairings, playful guys swimming around each other in circles, and dozens head toward the surface to catch a breath.
IT WAS THE COOLEST THING.
Even wearing earplugs – because of a busted eardrum – I could hear the dolphins underwater as they approached. Their high-pitched calls to each other, I’m told, can even be heard above the surface. And while I couldn’t hear their lower-pitched clicking underwater, it was cool to hear on Ron’s GoPro footage after.
While the whole four-hour swim was incredible, it did have its moments. I won’t talk about the ones where I tried to not puke, because, why. But there were a few, and I will say that jumping back in the water helped (in case anybody else struggles with that, too).
I will talk about the moment when I looked up while underwater only to see the front end of a pod coming right at me. I actually made an underwater scream from excitement, even though something like that often allows water into your snorkel. I couldn’t help it. It was so cool to see them coming my way, and then watch them swim right under me.
And the other moment that was super magical? When Ron decided to dive, since no dolphins were around, and he handed me the camera. As soon as he started to come back to the surface, a huge group of dolphins swam over him until they surrounded him and he was in the middle of their playdate.
And we almost missed it, too, because we were considering getting back on the boat for a snack and a break.
Those Hawaiian stars. They sure were kind to us.