Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between snorkeling in the morning versus the afternoon?
Contrary to what you might have heard, the morning does not offer any additional marine life or marine encounters. The same number and types of fish live and swim in the bays all day long. The main difference is you are more likely to have clear skies in the morning and a little more clouds in the afternoon.
Will your boat take us to Captain Cook bay?
Kealakekua Bay is where you find the Captain Cook monument, and, yes you will be able to see the monument aboard our Fair Wind II cruises. There isn’t any place called Captain Cook bay on the Big Island.
Does the Hula Kai go to Kealakekua Bay?
Depending on ocean conditions, Kealakekua Bay is typically one of the two snorkel locations the Hula Kai will visit. If you definitely want to go to Kealakekua Bay, we recommend going on a Fair Wind II trip to be guaranteed of it.
What type of footwear do I need?
Wear whatever is comfortable. Slippers or sneakers are fine, but you will spend the majority of your time walking barefoot while on-board. No need for “reef walkers” since guests are not allowed to step on anything (coral, etc.) while in the water.
What if I’ve never snorkeled before?
We recommend the Fair Wind II for all people who are new to snorkeling. Kealakekua Bay is a very well protected bay that offers calm pool like conditions all year round. Both the Hula Kai and Fair Wind II conduct snorkel classes onboard the boat for anyone who is interested.
What if I don’t swim or am uncomfortable in the water?
We host many non-swimmers who want to join their family and friends on our cruises. For anyone who doesn’t know how to swim or is uncomfortable in the water, we would recommend the Fair Wind II. The Fair Wind II goes to Kealakekua Bay, a very well protected bay that offers calm pool like conditions all year round, and has a wide array of floatation devices such as inter tubes and kick boards to assist you while in the water. Additionally, we have custom made view-boxes that allow you to see underwater without submerging your face.
Is seasickness common?
It depends on the person, if you are worried about becoming motion sick, check with your doctor before traveling for various over the counter or prescription remedies. Otherwise, we have “Sea Bands” and “Quease Ease” available for purchase in our gift shop, as well as ginger on board both boats.
Do you have prescription masks?
Yes, we offer masks with built in prescription lenses ranging from –1.5 to –7.0 at no additional charge.
Will we see dolphins?
There is a very good chance of seeing dolphins all year round. The most common species are the Spinner dolphins who go out to deep water at night to hunt but spend their days swimming, playing and resting in the shallow water and bays near shore. There are of course no guarantees when it comes to wildlife viewing; however, we generally encounter dolphins on about half of our cruises. Dolphins are a protected species and we do not actively pursue them.
Will we see whales?
The best opportunity to see whales is between late December and late March when the Humpback Whales migrate to Hawaii from the north Pacific. During that time of year, we will occasionally see whales during some of our daily snorkel cruises.
Do you ever see sharks while in the water?
Essentially no. Sharks are very rarely seen while snorkeling and, when seen, are almost exclusively small reef sharks that quickly swim away once they notice the snorkelers and/or boat.
Do you have SNUBA on board?
Yes, we do offer SNUBA aboard the Fair Wind II vessel to Kealakekua Bay on both morning and afternoon cruises, AND also on the Hula Kai morning cruise. *Additional Fee
What happens when there is bad weather?
Fortunately we are blessed with sunny skies and calm waters on the west side of the Big Island, therefore, we usually cancel less than 10 cruises a year due to inclement weather. However, if the Captain feels the weather will adversely affect the safety or enjoyment of our guests then they will cancel the cruise and all prepaid guests will receive a full refund. In addition, our office staff will do their very best to get you rescheduled on another cruise before you leave the island. Tropical weather is infamous for quickly passing rain showers and varied weather conditions; because of this our Captains are typically put in the position of addressing weather concerns on the day of the cruise.
Can we go ashore during our cruise?
No, in order to protect the sensitive coral reefs, marine shoreline and the safety of our guests no one is allowed to climb onto land. Each vessel will act as your private island allowing you to come and go as you please while you enjoy your day at sea.
Do you have bathrooms or showers on board?
Yes, we have two large bathrooms and 2 outdoor fresh water showers on both boats.
Is there any shade on your boats?
The Fair Wind II and Hula Kai each have shade canopies on both lower and upper decks, however sun-protection and light cover-up is still strongly recommended.
What do I need to bring on my snorkel cruise?
Towel, sunscreen, hat & sunglasses, camera, and warm cover-up is recommended.
Do I need to bring a dry-bag for my stuff?
It’s not necessary, but some people do pack their things in dry-bags just to be safe. Both vessels are large & sturdy, so water does not come splashing overboard.
Is your crew trained in first aid and emergency response?
Yes, all of our Captains and Crew take regularly scheduled lifeguard, 1st aid and emergency response courses throughout the year.
Is it OK for me to go on the cruise if I’m pregnant?
Yes, we routinely accommodate pregnant snorkelers. Both of our boats are equipped with wide slanted steps that allow you to easily walk in and out of the water, 2 large bathrooms and a variety of floatation devices to assist you while snorkeling.
Can you accommodate unaccompanied minors?
No, our marine insurance policy requires that all parties have at least one member who is 18 years old or older.
Can you accommodate handicapped passengers?
Our experienced Captains, Crew and equipment are able to offer a wide range of assistance to people with varying handicaps. Due to the nature of the boats being tied to the dock, rocking back and forth with the movement of the water and a series of about 4 stair steps up to board our vessels, each passenger will need to be able to cross the threshold under their own power (there is not a ramp from pier to vessel). To help ensure the safety of our guests and crew, no one is permitted to be carried up the steps and across the gap between the boat and dock.
Can you accommodate Cruise Ship passengers?
The different cruise ship companies have different arrival times into Kailua-Kona. You will need to check with your cruise line to find out if they expect to arrive at 7:00am or 8:00am. If your cruise ship arrives at 7:00am then you should have enough time to make either the Fair Wind II or Hula Kai morning cruise. If your cruise ship arrives at 8:00am then you won’t have enough time to make the Fair Wind II morning cruise. Regardless of when your cruise ship arrives, there are a couple factors that will determine if you can get to our office in time to board one of our morning cruises. 1st you will need to make sure that you are aboard one of the first few tender boats that will ferry you from the cruise ship, which is anchored offshore, to the pier in downtown Kailua-Kona. 2nd you will want to have a taxi waiting for you at the pier to bring you to our office. We recommend that you make arrangements with the cruise ship concierge to reserve a taxi for you. It is approximately a 25-minute taxi ride from the Kailua-Kona pier to our office and boats.
Do you provide transportation from my hotel or condo?
We do not offer transportation. While staying on the island, you will probably find it cheaper and more convenient to rent a car. Otherwise, there are a number of taxi companies that can assist you.
Why are the manta rays in Kona?
The community places lights in the water which attracts plankton to a popular night snorkel location called Kona Manta Village. Manta rays come to feed on the plankton at night, regularly concentrating the manta rays every evening. This mutual benefit allows for manta ray night snorkel viewing and dinner for the manta rays.
Do manta rays have barbs or stingers?
How big are manta rays?
There are two species of manta rays in the earth’s ocean. Manta alfredi, Hawaiiʻs manta rays, are born at about 3 feet in length and the smaller of the two species found in Hawaii’s coastal waters. Hawaiiʻs manta rays can reach a width of approximately 12 feet across. Manta birostris can also be seen infrequently in Hawaiian waters and can reach up to 22 feet across.