Thursday, May 16, 2024

Turtles, dolphins invite tourists to learn, enjoy on Hawaiian islands


The graceful sea turtles of Kauai are protected under the Endangered Species Act.  It is a crime to endanger them.



Bottlenose dolphins are stars at Hilton Waikoloa Resort,
 where visitors can swim with the dolphins in strict
 supervision by educated environmentalists and trainers. 

DOLPHINS AND TURTLES are primary tourist attractions in Hawaii. They have a magical aura and delight visitors of all ages, from all over the world.

We found both in abundance on our most recent trip. We discovered our mutual fascination with sea creatures when we began traveling together nearly 18 years ago. Both of us had admired them for decades before so we strengthen this bond in travel each year.

Although both sea turtles and dolphins can be spotted on other Hawaiian islands, today's piece focuses on sea life of Kauai and the "Big Island" of Hawaii.

These waters off the coast of Kauai attract sea turtles,
dolphins and whales. There are strict rules protecting wildlife.
SEA TURTLES or “honu” -- pronounced hoh-noo -- top most travelers’ wish lists of wildlife viewing in Kauai. Long considered symbols of good luck, the creatures’ kind faces and trudging gait are endearing. Watching them is joy.
On the Big Island, spinner dolphins are the ones we see most in the wild. There are hundreds of them -- perhaps thousands -- up and down the Kona Coast. In our encounters on Body Glove's fun tours, we've watched these playful creatures in pods of five and six, up to 30 and more.
We watched this green sea turtle swim under
one of the bridges at Waikoloa Village.

At Hilton's Waikoloa Resort north of Kona village, we never tire of watching the graceful bottlenose dolphins and we've twice booked encounters with them through Dolphin Quest Hawaii. It opened in 1988 as the first of its kind to provide a natural sandy beached tidal lagoon filled with filtered sea water for resident bottlenose dolphins. It's possible to swim with them here in a strictly supervised and diligently tended environment.
WATCHING dolphins and turtles never ceases to amaze. Dolphins are playful and smart and have been known to protect humans in shark invested waters. These affectionate creatures seem to enjoy human contact and being observed. Turtles are more elusive,
The one highly supervised place dolphins can be gently
touched is at Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.
Here, Amarylla and Steve Ganner, Peny and James
join their auntie and uncle, Cookie and Keller. 

and have slimmer odds of survival, which makes them all the more precious.
Newly hatched turtles try to elude predators as they scramble from their sandy nests to the relative safety of the water. A few make it in one of nature's most harrowing stories. If they make it to the sea, hatchlings are a favorite snack of larger creatures. Only one in  1,000 eggs survives to adulthood.

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
had the rare opportunity to swim with dolphins
at Dolphin Quest at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

HAWAII'S TURTLES are protected under the Endangered Species Act as well as by the state of Hawaii. Dolphins are, too. It is illegal to pursue wild dolphins in Hawaii as well as any place in any waters within United States jurisdiction. Legally, one must go in the water and let the dolphins come. Boat tours that promise swimming with dolphins can risk a stiff fine of $10,000 if they are caught encouraging this activity, so make sure you are touring with a reputable company. The key is to watch them and hope they approach you. Do not try to swim to these beautiful creatures. For turtle viewing, it is best to visit their areas around sunset and stay through the evening. Poipu Beach State Park is a popular place where we've seen many, walking right from our Point at Poipu room. 
The sea turtles at Poipu Beach State Park can
be enjoyed, photographed, but never touched.
We saw the most turtles at the end of the day. Years ago, we stayed up later and saw them come ashore after dark to sleep.
Dolphins swim in pods off the Kona coast. Many
snorkeling tours allow visitors to swim in areas
frequented by dolphins; let the dolphins approach.

We found lovely turtle viewing spots just
a short hike from our Point at Poipu room, on
the scenic southernmost tip of Kauai.

When you spot honus, the rules are: stay at least 10 feet away. Never harass, feed, chase, ride, handle, injure or hunt them. Holding the animals in captivity is prohibited under federal and state laws. Violators can be fined up to $100,000 and even imprisoned. And if you find yourself in the water with spinner dolphins, be aware that the Marine Mammals Protection Act prohibits people from chasing, feeding or touching marine mammals in the wild. Resist the temptation to pursue dolphins, rather, allow them to swim to you.

Thrilling to see turtles on Poipu Beach, Kauai.

Swimming with dolphins: click here

SEA TURTLES and dolphins made the Hawaiian islands their home long before people did, but counts of both have dropped. Honu were officially placed on the endangered species list in 1978 and are strictly protected. Dolphins are threatened by fishing, toxoplasmosis (a parasitic infection) and other diseases. Other threats to the dolphin population worldwide are oil and gas exploration, boat strikes, mining, tourism and noise.

WE TRAVEL with courtesy toward all fellow inhabitants of our planet. Show animals on land and sea respect. Watch them, but please don't approach them.

For more information or to book a stay or activity for wildlife viewing in Hawaii: (for Dolphin Quest bookings and dolphin viewing info) (snorkeling, dolphins, dinner and sunset cruise tours) (for info on the park) (tours on all the islands)


In May 2017, Christene "Cookie" Meyers wheels  
Bruce Keller from the ICU at Scripps Green Hospital
Transplant Division, two days after transplantation.
UP NEXT: We are celebrating.  Please join our joy as we mark our seventh anniversary post transplant.  Thanks to a generous donor, and a crack medical team at Scripps in San Diego headed by a Columbia University Medical College ace, Bruce William Keller is on the high seas today -- not in an urn or cemetery plot.  We tell the story of our trials to work up the transplant list and into health after a long undiagnosed case of hepatitis C nearly sidelined him for good. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, celebrating each day.  Catch us each week for a fresh spin on health, nature, travel, family, the arts and more, at

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