Hawaii Island & Ice and Ocean Tours offers is a small family run tour boat offering personalized snorkeling tours to Captain Cook at Kealakekua Bay, in addition to dolphin swims, and the amazing night manta ray snorkeling experience. They also provide private charters for fishing and other marine activities.
Sightseeing: Whale Watching
Tours: Boat & Submarine
Tours: Charter / Private
Water Activities: Boats / Sailboats
Water Activities: Snorkeling
We attended a morning snorkel tour with with LeeAnn and Jon. Jon was the captain and his wife LeeAnn was our guide. LeeAnn was born and raised in Kona and grew up swimming in the waters around Kealakekua Bay. Her family can be traced way back to King Kamehameha times so you get the true Hawaiian/local experience with their tours.
Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours only take 6 passengers on their boat so it’s more intimate and fluid depending on the water conditions and what everyone feels like doing. The boat had plenty of room with cushioned seating under with covered shading. It hot out there, so we were grateful for the shade.
First, we were on the Morning Snorkel tour and spotted a pod of spinner. Because there were only 5 of us, we were able to jump in and out of the boat to get to the dolphins fast. Jon and LeeAnn were very conscientious about not disturbing and chasing the dolphins. They waited until the dolphins were headed our way and told us to jump in.
After swimming with the dolphins, we went towards Kealakekua Bay and South Kona and enjoyed the scenic coastline of Kona while eating delicious pineapples and talking story. LeeAnn and Jon were very knowledgeable about Hawaiian culture and history. We also saw humpback whales in the distance.
We stopped at two beautiful snorkeling sites. The first one was not as abundant with fishes as the Captain Cook Monument which was our second stop. You can see so many colorful tropical fish, eels, sea urchins and lots of Crown of Thorns starfish along the shallow waters by the shores of the monument. Once you swim out just a little ways and the ocean floor drops quickly and you cannot see the bottom. It could be a little scary, but still very wonderful. After snorkeling, we had sandwich and chips with juice and water.
The whole trip, we had two fishing lines trolling from the boat. On the way back to the harbor, a 20 pound mahi mahi bit the line and it sure was exciting to watch Captain Jon reel it in. I’ve never realized how beautiful mahi mahi fishes were. It was beautiful green with blue spots. The morning snorkel took about 5½ hours and we came back exhilarated and happy.
In the evening, LeeAnn and Jon took us on their Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tour. We launched again at Keauhau Harbor. They provided wetsuits to keep us warm. This time, LeeAnn brought her father Richard along to guide us while we were on the manta flotation board. Their manta flotation board has high powered lights and bar for us to grasp while floating on the water. When the plankton floats towards the lights, manta rays will also swim up to feed on them. While we were holding onto the flotation board, we used a floating noodle to support our waist and feet from sinking.
LeeAnn’s father Richard guided the flotation board away from the boat to the spot where the manta rays feed in front of the Kona Sheraton. There were lots of fishes called ‘opelu that were also feeding on the plankton. We didn’t see any manta rays at this spot, so Jon decided to take us to another spot where they knew other manta rays were. Sure enough, they found a manta ray called Amanda Ray.
We were in the water within minutes and there were no pesky ‘opelus to interfere with our viewing of Amanda Ray. She was easily recognized by the bent right wing tip, which was an injury from fishing line. At first, I was busy taking photos and videos of the manta ray looking through the viewing screen of the camera.
When I stopped looking at her through the camera and started watching her in real life, it was the most wondrous feeling in the world. I was so moved by how beautiful and graceful she was that tears came to my eyes. She came so close to my face that I felt like she was saying hello to me. I’ll never forget that experience. My advice to anyone who wants to go on the manta ray tour is do not get too distracted with taking photos and documenting it. Just enjoy the moment.
At the end of our tour, LeeAnn gave us the mahi mahi we caught. They had cleaned it and cut it up so we could cook them later. She also gave some of the mahi mahi to Richard, but he insisted we take his share. LeeAnn already gave us enough to eat but we couldn’t refuse his generosity and aloha. We appreciated the gesture, and really felt the true spirit of aloha and sharing. When we cooked the fish the next night, it was super fresh and delicious. Before we ate, we gave many thanks for our dinner made possible from Jon, LeeAnn, Richard and Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours.
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