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Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel and Resort: Things to Do on Oahu, Hawaii

Updated on February 24, 2020
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Stephanie loves to travel. She has written numerous articles with tips, photographs, and information on places to visit.

Kids of All Ages Enjoy Watching or Even Swimming with the Dolphins at the Kahala Hotel and Resort

Once again, our recent trip to Oahu, Hawaii was enhanced by the guidance of a friend who has family in Kailua, Hawaii and frequently visits the islands. In January 2014, at her suggestion, we took a day trip to the Kahala Hotel and Resort, had lunch, surfed in the waves in front of the beach, and enjoyed watching the dolphins at Dolphin Quest.

My daughter's gymnastics teammates and their families gathered here for a day of fun and amazing photographic opportunities. From the orchid wall down the stairs from the lobby to the restaurant to the amazing lunch fare at the Plumeria Beach House restaurant, everything was so enjoyable, we highly recommend anyone visiting Oahu/Honolulu, Hawaii to plan a visit to the Kahala Hotel and Resort.

You don't have to be a guest of the resort to enjoy the amazing amenities. The address of the hotel is in Honolulu, Hawaii, but it is approximately 10 minutes south of the City, on the opposite side of Diamond Head.

Reservations for lunch are recommended, but not required. Even if you only want to hang out on the beach and walk through the lagoon pathways to check out the dolphins and sea turtles, you can do so for free!

The public beach in front of the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii
The public beach in front of the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii | Source
Play with the dolphins at Dolphin Quest on Oahu, Hawaii
Play with the dolphins at Dolphin Quest on Oahu, Hawaii | Source

Do you Want to Swim with the Dolphins?

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What is Dolphin Quest?

At the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Oahu, Hawaii, Dolphin Quest is a program for which you or your entire family can sign up.

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins play, leap and swim in a 26,000 square foot natural lagoon in the center of the resort.

There are also Dolphin Quest programs at other locations in Hawaii and in Bermuda.

As of the date of this hub, you can sign up for a number of different Dolphin Quest programs on Oahu, ranging in length from 15 minutes to 5.5 hours, and with prices between $125-$700 per person. With the assistance of trainers, you can touch, feed, play with or even train the resident dolphins. A portion of the proceeds are dedicated to support marine research, conservation and research. All kids under 11 years of age must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Dolphin Quest hours are daily from 8:30-5:30.

Even if you don't pay for Dolphin Quest, visitors and guests at the Kahala Hotel and Resort can watch the dolphin antics, listen to the instructors, and also tour other separate areas that house tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays and sea turtles. During our visit, we watched trainers and were directly instructed about blowfish in one area of the lagoon.

A dolphin swims in the lagoon at the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu
A dolphin swims in the lagoon at the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu | Source

How to Get to the Kahala Hotel and Resort on Oahu, Hawaii

Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel and Resort:
5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA

get directions

Is Dolphin Quest Humane?

There are definitely people that oppose programs such as Dolphin Quest. As set forth on the Humane Society's website:

The Humane Society of the United States is strongly opposed to captive SWTD attractions and believes these programs, even if strictly regulated, pose an immediate threat to the safety of both human and dolphin participants.

There are others who argue that well-run swim-with-the-dolphin ("SWTD") programs are not harmful, but actually beneficial. They cite the lack of scientific evidence that dolphins live shorter lives in captivity than in the wild. The focus for them is on the professionals and treatment offered at each individual facility.

Of course, any SWTD experience - whether in the wild or at a facility like Dolphin Quest may have impacts. Each individual should consider their preferences before deciding whether or not to swim with the dolphins and, if so, where.

Parking and Access at the Kahala Hotel and Resort and Dolphin Quest

If you are not staying at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, you are still welcome to view and/or attend Dolphin Quest, dine in the restaurant and spend time on the public beach.

Note that all beaches in Hawaii are open to the public, even if it appears as if they are private (as here).

Valet parking is available and you can obtain validation for 3 free hours by having lunch at one of the four restaurants on site. Another 2 hours may be validated by ordering from the servers along the beach - appetizers and soft drinks or alcoholic beverages may be enjoyed right in front of the waves.

There is a guard at the entrance to the parking lot of the hotel. Do not let that intimidate you!

The public has a right to visit the beach, and you also may stroll the grounds to watch the dolphins, sea turtles, reef fish, and other marine life for free. Just keep in mind that if you don't order food or drinks, you will be paying for parking!

Looking out over the lagoon toward the beach at the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu
Looking out over the lagoon toward the beach at the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu | Source

Swim with the Dolphins at Dolphin Quest in Hawaii

The Dolphin Quest lagoon on Oahu, Hawaii
The Dolphin Quest lagoon on Oahu, Hawaii | Source

Quick Tips About Dolphin Quest and the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu

  • Fees: No charge to enter the hotel, view the dolphins and enjoy the beach - you only need to pay for parking, unless validated
  • Restaurant: Yes - four available at the Kahala Hotel and Resort, serving breakfast through dinner, 6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
  • Hours: 8:30 a.m. -5:00 p.m.
  • Address: Dolphin Quest Oahu at The Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
  • Phone: 808.739.8918; toll-free 800.248.3316
  • Gift shop: Yes
  • Reservations: Yes, up to one year in advance. Call the Central Reservations office at 800-248-3316 (Mon. - Fri. 8:00am - 9:00pm EST). International callers please dial 540-687-8102.
  • Accessibility: Yes - guests with physical limitations or other special needs will be accommodated
  • Lockers and towels: Lockers - yes, towels, no - must bring your own! Don't forget sunscreen
  • Physical requirements: Suggested that participants are comfortable in the water and crossing slippery and uneven surfaces. Must be able to follow directions.

Dolphin Quest on Oahu, Hawaii

Sea turtle in the Dolphin Quest lagoon
Sea turtle in the Dolphin Quest lagoon | Source

What to Expect When Visiting Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii is generally mild to warm in temperatures year round. Even during winter months, highs may range between 75-85 degrees F. This tropical region has frequent cloudy spells and rainstorms may pass through - often out of nowhere.

You will rarely have to dress in warm layers in Hawaii. Just pack a lightweight rain jacket and you should be fine. Flip flop sandals are good pretty much any day, as well.

Casual wear is the norm in the islands, but when you go out in the evening along Waikiki, some people enjoy dressing up. People watching is fantastic!

While packing may be relatively light and easy to do (just don't forget sunscreen, sunglasses and bathing suits), keep in mind that the cost of living in - and visiting - Hawaii is higher than just about anywhere else in the United States. You will pay more for groceries, sundries, taxis, entertainment, etc. If you can, purchase miscellaneous items in advance such as band-aids, batteries, toiletries and gum/mints.

Its easy to get suckered into spending small amounts of cash, which will add up quickly, on things like leis, shell or Koi wood jewelry (usually poorly made), cheap t-shirts, keychains and so much more. My suggestion is to mentally take the funds you would have spent on worthless items and save up for something special like a Hawaiian luau.

For me, the most meaningful souvenirs are photographs!

Dolphin Quest trainers working with a blow fish
Dolphin Quest trainers working with a blow fish | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Stephanie Marshall


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