Important Information to Optimize your Experience with Hawaii Marine Life Charters


At Hawaii Marine Life Charters, we are more than a tour company – we are stewards of the ocean, helping you to connect with nature through Hawaii’s amazing marine life along our Kona coast.

Please read through our FAQs before booking online or contacting us to ensure you are fully prepared and have all that you need for a great adventure with Hawaii Marine Life Charters.




Frequently Asked Questions

  • Adventure.  Fun.  Aloha.  Respect.
  • Our fast and maneuverable vessel will help introduce you to our Kona coast’s amazing reef and near-shore marine life. It’s a comfortable ride with our forward-facing cushioned bench seats, and we do move expeditiously and that can include a few bumps and is generally part of the fun.  The best approach is to hold on and smile!
  • The ride can be a bit bumpy at times, therefore we do not recommend our tour for anyone who is pregnant, is recovering from an injury, or has a history of neck, back, or shoulder issues. Please consult with your physician before booking our tour to ensure your personal well-being.
  • During our day snorkels, our crew will help introduce you to our vibrant coral reef and the many marine species who call it home. We will be on the lookout for the 4 species of local dolphins, whales, and mantas, but we will always act with respect for their safety and well-being, equally as with our own. 
  • We rigidly adhere to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 which sets strict guidelines and penalties for proximity and that prohibit any harassment of these animals. Count on our captain and crew to create the best experience and educate you on these amazing creatures as we encounter them.
  • 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona, HI. 96740. Not a bad idea to add us into your Contacts for easy access.
  • Follow the Google Maps link in your confirmation email or search Hawaii Marine Life Charters in the Google browser. You may click the location pin on our website instructions in the section below.  It’s a good idea to check directions a few days prior to your tour to ensure you are aware of the travel time from your specific accommodations North or South of Kona and Honokohau Harbor.  Traffic can be unexpectedly congested during morning and afternoon commute times.    We try to be considerate to all guests, and depart promptly on time each day.  Please keep this in mind.
  • Free parking is available in the lot by the light tan Public Restrooms building with the reddish roof adjacent to our slip. You will see our vibrant Hawaii Marine Life Charters sign at Slip G-8.  The slip is down the ramp and you should be able to easily see our standout yellow and black adventure craft.  While Hawaii is generally a safe environment, it’s prudent to minimize any valuables that you bring with you and to lock your vehicle.


  • NO.  Given the size of Hawaii island and it’s apt nickname “The Big Island”, most visitors secure a rental car through a variety of channels.  Taxis can be expensive to commute long distances, and Ubers/Lyft are around, but not always in great supply.    


  • Please arrive no later than 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time. We will get you checked in, have you complete our liability waiver, fit you for a wetsuit (night manta only), provide a safety orientation, and then “lines away” as we depart for your adventure!   Please be aware that our departure times will change throughout the year based upon the changing time of sunset.


  • (808) 333-1118. Telephone Hours – 7am – 8pm Hawaii Standard Time. Leave a voice message and we will get back to you at the earliest opportunity working around our tours.



  • Our Boat Maximum – 6 passengers, 2 crew, has a tour minimum of 4 guests.  While this typically does not occur, there are occasions where we have to reschedule and we will work to rebook you during your stay.
  • We welcome those 3 – 85 years of age as long as they can safely maneuver without assistance on our vessel.
  • We welcome those 250 pounds or less in weight with the same mobility requirement.
  • Children must be at least 5 years of age and demonstrates strong swimming ability, and be accompanied by an adult while on the boat.  For children under 14 years of age, adults must accompany them while they snorkel. Youth 14-17 may snorkel independently subject to our assessment of their swimming and snorkeling proficiency.
  • Our 31’ NATURE SCHOOL II RHIB vessel has inflated pontoons and our guests must be able to physically and safely move about the boat without assistance. Boarding requires stepping up onto the bow pontoon and then stepping down into the boat.  You should be in good physical and mental health to join our adventures.  Our crew will be happy to lend a hand when needed, but you should be prepared to be self-sufficient and mobile.  You must be able to climb a short ladder unassisted to get back into the boat from snorkeling.  Everyone’s safety is our top priority.
  • All guests must be able to understand English and be able to reasonably communicate with our crew in English. We do have some bilingual staff members fluent in Japanese.  Be sure to confirm with our team if this will be necessary. 
  • If there are any questions regarding our age restrictions, or you have specific special needs we would recommend considering booking a private charter so we can customize specifically for your party. Contact us and let’s see how we can design a special charter for you.
  • If the captain feels that any guest is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is unable to safely move about the vessel, and their participation may cause a safety risk to themselves, fellow passengers, or the crew, he may deny boarding. Let keep everyone safe so we can have a great experience and avoid any of these risks. Mahalo in advance for your understanding and compliance.



  • YES, if you plan to get in the water. You must have confident swim abilities - 25 yards unassisted and without the use of a floatation device. Our crew is there and responsible for everyone, so it’s important that those in the water are able to meet this requirement.


  • You must be able to ascend our short swim-ladder unassisted to get back into the boat.


  • Our manta tour is NOT suitable for non-swimmers, expectant mothers, or those with back, neck or shoulder issues or limitations.Consult with your physician for their advice on your participation.


  • We’ll be going “local-style” and instead of removing your “slippahs” or shoes before you enter someone’s house in Hawaii as a common practice, we’ll be collecting your footwear and keeping them safely until we return to the dock (remember, don’t take a better pair when you leave!). 
  • NO.  There is no bathroom on board. We recommend that “You GO, before WE go” at the public restrooms located adjacent to where you will park.  Light tan building, reddish roof.

  • Yes, our boat complies with all of the requirements for a commercial vessel, and beyond. In addition to a First Aid kit, we have an emergency oxygen kit, Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), flares, horn, life jackets, and fire safety equipment on board. Life jackets for each guest are on board and guests 14 and under are required to wear their life jacket while we are underway. 


  • Mask, snorkel, fins (for daytime experiences). You may bring your own personal gear, but we do not allow full-face masks on our tours.
  • Floatation devices (pool noodle or float belt).
  • Wetsuits for manta snorkel.
  • Filtered water, juices and dry snacks
  • We do have a supply of prescription masks ranging from -1.5 to -7.0. 
  • The duration of each of our tours is listed on our reservations system and will also be in your email confirmation once you’ve booked.
  • For daytime snorkel trips, guests will have an hour or more to snorkel.
  • For evening manta trips, it’s generally 30-40 minutes. By that amount of time, the temperature difference between our bodies and the ocean water will have you feeling a bit chilled.  In most cases, you’ll have seen some great manta activity and your “bucket-list” will have a huge tick-mark from this extremely unique experience.   
  • For all snorkel trips, when you’ve experienced enough, you let us know and you can reboard the boat and “talk story” with our captain.
  • Bathing suit on and ready under your clothes
  • Dry towels and a change of dry clothes or layers for the ride home.
  • For daytime experiences – UPF protective clothing and a light jacket or sweat shirt for the start of the day or if the wind comes up. 
  • Remember that you will be snorkeling face down and your uncovered back will get significant sun exposure. Best approach is to have a sun shirt or rash guard on while you are in the water and manage your sun exposure diligently.
  • Non-aerosol reef-safe sunscreen (active ingredients should include non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – such as that used in mineral-based sunblock. Bad for the reef chemicals are octinoxate and oxybenzone or nanoparticles and microplastics).  Please apply before boarding the boat giving it time to be absorbed.   Travel + Leisure magazine did a recent comparison in 2023 and this may provide some assistance in securing the right sunscreen before you travel:

  • For Night Experiences - warm jacket and additional layers as you will not have the sun to warm you following your manta snorkel.
  • If you experience motion sickness, you are encouraged to consult with your doctor and if approved, to use a relief agent such as Dramamine, Bonine, or other brand product well in advance of the tour following the instructions for use by the manufacturer.  Sea-Bands are a non-drug option as well and are available at a local pharmacy.  Our fast and open-air boat will reduce the sideways motion that larger boats experience, but only you know your own sensitivity and we ask you to take the appropriate precautions for everyone’s best interests.
  • Any additional snacks or non-alcoholic beverages you’d like in a backpack or less sized container. Space is limited, only bring what you need onboard.  No alcohol allowed on the boat and we suggest you wait until after the experience is concluded to enjoy a beer or cocktail.
  • An adventurous outlook . . . . and all of the Aloha Spirit that you’ve absorbed through your stay thus far!  Our Captain and crew will definitely be adding more to keep you Living Aloha!



  • Absolutely – but be sure it’s water safe. We have a few GoPro 10’s available for rental on a first-come basis.  Please send us a note if you would like to reserve one for your tour.    You may want to consider renting a GoPro from our friends at Boss Frog’s just south of the pier on Ali’I Drive in Kailua-Kona.  $ 75 for the week’s use, $ 32 per day.  Includes the SD card. 


  • Our vessel features a Bimini top which provides limited shade. As the sun moves, the shade will move. You will also be getting sun reflection off of the water. It’s best to wear UPF clothing knowing that the sun’s  movement and reflection will expose you to strong UV rays.  When in the water you will mostly be snorkeling face down and your uncovered back and legs will get significant sun exposure.  The best approach is to have a sun shirt or rash guard on while you are in the water and manage your sun exposure diligently. 



  • They vary seasonally, but are generally warm between 74 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures can be expected during the spring and summer months and the water is just a bit cooler through winter and spring.
  • Given the motion of the ocean, it’s generally good to have a bite to eat before coming out, but we recommend to eat light – and wait for that cocktail or beer until after you’ve had an amazing experience.
  • We are blessed with our Kona leeward shores at the base of Hualalai and Mauna Loa mountains. Our coastal waters are pristine given the young age of our island and generally calm and navigable year-round.
  • Our captains will closely monitor the ocean conditions from all information sources as they can change rapidly – both for the better or worse. Everyone’s safety is the highest priority and we will only go if it’s SAFE.  We will give the tour every opportunity to operate and sometimes it has to be a last-minute cancel as a result of the water conditions. We will contact you via email, text, or telephone at the earliest decision to cancel.  In that rare event, we’ll happily reschedule you for another date while you are on-island, or provide a full refund.


  • As we head towards our morning snorkel destination of Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park and the Captain Cook monument, we’ll be on the lookout for our 4 different local resident dolphin species, who frequent the various bays north and south of Kona in pods.

During whale season (December – March) we may be graced with a Humpback Whale sighting – be on the lookout for a spout of air and sea mist, a fluke or tail-slap, or maybe even a breach. Spotting a mother and calf is a truly special treat.

These are all wild animals and our success with sightings will all be dependent upon their natural behaviors.

  • Once in Kealakekua Bay you’ll be snorkeling in the home of over 250 species of marine life, including numerous types of coral. You’ll be amazed by the brilliant colors of the reef fish, and please do everything within your power to avoid touching or stepping on the living coral reef – made up of thousands of tiny and delicate animals called polyps. “Look, but don’t touch” is the safest practice. With luck, you may see a spotted eagle ray, an octopus, moray eel, and hopefully a Hawaiian green sea turtle (honu).
  • We strictly follow and adhere to the restrictions implemented by the federal Marine Mammals Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) which is subject to severe fines for violating proximity requirements or harassing any of the following animals in Hawaii (whales, dolphins, green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals)
  • We will be snorkeling within Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park which has also been designated a Hawaii Marine Life Conservation District which is intended to be a sanctuary for these animals. We are prohibited from going ashore as part of the State regulations. We also will not take any specimens or shells or coral out of the park.
  • We will maintain a strategy of non-intrusive interaction and observation while we visit these creatures in their home as guests. If you have any questions at all about this approach, please speak with the captain or crew.



  • If you booked online, find your confirmation email and that option will be provided.  If you booked via telephone, that same confirmation will apply and you can change or cancel via the website.  If that doesn’t work, please immediately send us an email so we can assist given Hawaii’s time difference.  Cancellation or change inside of 48-hours of the tour is not possible.


  • You will be wearing a mask, snorkel, and wetsuit along with a floatation device.


  • We do not use fins for the safety of the mantas so they aren’t scratched or scraped. You should remain calm and avoid any kicking or unnecessary movements so our presence does not disturb them. Mantas have no stingers, barbs, or teeth, so they are not a threat to us.


  • Life jackets are not allowed for the safety of mantas – your wetsuit will provide you additional buoyancy and warmth.


  • You will enter the water and our swim guide will help position you on our specially-designed light board. It has handles around the perimeter and LED lights mounted into the board and shining down.  You will be lightly holding onto the handles and positioned as if you were a flying super-hero with your arms outstretched forward as you look down and calmly breathe.  You will be parallel with the bottom and a floatation device will assist you to remain in this position.


  • The high-intensity lights attract extremely small marine “plankton” (Greek origin “sea wander/drift”) as they float with the currents as they are unable to propel themselves aside from vertically). Plankton are the mantas primary food source.


  • From here, you just relax and breathe and let the show begin around you. You may hear some sounds of excitement from your fellow guests as this “underwater ballet” can be quite exhilarating given the mantas’ size, coupled with their amazing grace.


  • Your guide will continuously monitor the light board and keep it positioned optimally by “towing” the board and our guests.


  • When it’s time to return to the boat, your guide will assist each of you individually.



  • You will NOT be free-snorkeling in the dark. We need you to be focused upon following the instructions of the swim guide and your captain.
  • As manta rays are wild animals, our tours are subject to their natural behaviors.  While Kona mantas have a very high viewing rate (over 90 %), it is possible that our snorkeling tours can end without seeing one manta ray.  If you don't see a Manta Ray, you have the chance to join us again for free on another night, subject to availability on a standby basis. Absolutely no refunds given the time, effort, and expense that has already been put forth in trying to provide this experience. No cash value.

If we don’t see a manta on your tour, we will use your original reservation and confirmation email to begin the rebooking process. The guarantee is non-transferable, and never expires.  Please bear in mind that standby space availability will be limited during peak travel periods, but we stand behind our guarantee.


  • ABSOLUTELY.  Hawaii’s ocean tourism and hospitality industries are dependent upon our visitors as the primary economic engine.  It is a common practice, and appreciated greatly. 



  • These hard-working individuals strive to create an amazing experience and keep our visitors safe while introducing you to the natural resources of our island paradise. In many cases, they share personal experiences and insider recommendations from their local life here. It’s part of the Aloha Spirit and it comes naturally to those of us who live it and embrace it.  


It’s difficult to place a value on this commitment to each of you, and if you have any questions, just watch them perform and consider the Golden Rule if the roles were reversed?  Your “wows” and “huge smiles” are easily transferable, and an additional financial gesture of appreciation at the conclusion takes it to the next level. 


A review on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, also helps keep us busy!

  • Our Captains are all United States Coast Guard licensed and certified. We follow all USCG regulations in operating our tours.


  • We follow guidelines and restrictions implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).



  • We strictly follow and adhere to the restrictions implemented by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) which is subject to severe fines for violating proximity requirements or harassing any of the following animals in Hawaii (whales, dolphins, green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals)


  • We follow all guidelines and restrictions and are a permitted operator for Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park which has been designated as a Marine Life Conservation District by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).



  • Our tours will utilize a passive observation approach to ensure the well-being and safety of all marine animals we encounter.


  • All of our crew are trained in CPR, AED, emergency oxygen, first aid, water safety.



  • Hawaii Marine Life Charters participates as a member of the Maritime Consortium, Inc – ensuring a drug-free and alcohol-free vessel requiring all crew members to participate in a random drug testing program in compliance with the United States Coast Guard requirement.
  • Unfortunately, No. Given the intimate size of our boat and the value of this small group experience, we treat each guest equally and focus upon our pricing based upon age level and seasonal demand. We do periodically offer promotional specials on our website.


  • Show your respect and appreciation for one of the most remote locations on the planet, it’s people, it’s culture, and our important natural resources.


  • Being and acting “pono” (righteous, morally correct, proper, respectful), is an important belief and practice of the native Hawaiian culture. The State of Hawaii motto has it keenly embedded and this dates back over 160 years under the rule of King Kamehameha III:


“Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” – translated to “The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness”


  • Before you arrive, we encourage you to watch the short video below and take the Pono pledge for Hawaii Island. That will help instill in you how to be safe, and also respectful, and give you a greater appreciation for our island home.

Mahalo nui loa for considering Hawaii Marine Life Charters for your ocean activity experiences.



The Hawaii Marine Life Charters Ohana