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VolunTourism Hawaii- Beyond the Beach

One week "Cruises with a Porpoise"

All of our trips & volunteer expeditions make a difference for indigenous and endangered animals, and:

  • Directly support (including hands-on participation with) wildlife conservation programs
  • Educate travelers about wildlife
  • Support local communities
  • Reduce environmental impact

Learn more about our conservation tourism policies

The waters of Hawaii offer a unique opportunity for the study of marine wildlife, alongside seasoned local guides and experienced wildlife biologists. The presence of seventeen different toothed cetacean (whale and dolphin) species have been recorded, along with six baleen whale,s such as the humpback and less common sei, blue and fin whales.

The Wild Dolphin Foundation has teamed up with experienced wildlife tour operator Wild Side Specialty Tours for Ocean Trekker Expeditions. Learn how to identify cetaceans and interpret their behaviours as we linger over Hawaii's hotspots of cetacean diversity and abundance.

After casual yet informative briefings over dinner, sharpen your field techniques assisting Wild Dolphin Foundation researchers in recording behavior, environmental conditions, and photo I.D.’s of the animals we come in contact with.

A highlight of the week-long journey is the liveaboard aspect, with only six passengers, and three crew. Being afloat allows for brilliant stargazing in remote bays, and access to wildlife rich areas where even many who live in Hawaii have rarely, if ever, visited. It’s a great opportunity to give back to Hawaiian communities.

Shore activities such as visiting cultural or sacred sites are optional and allow plenty of time for relaxation and reflection. The first few evenings of the expedition trekkers will have informal yet engaging discussion and lectures regarding team building, safety, conservation, marine biology, and research methods.

Protecting Hawaii’s reefs are also a core goal,such as using proper reef etiquette fish-friendly sunscreen and conducting REEF surveys


On board you will gain insight into whale and dolphin recognition and behaviors, conservation and preservation, evolution, adaptation to the marine environment, and interaction with fisheries. All participants will receive assistance with photographic techniques to get the best photos of wild dolphins. Participants will also learn about wild dolphin photo-identification and the latest findings about these fascinating, social animals. Dolphin sightings are guaranteed!

One week onboard of intensive volunteering, working together with Wild Dolphin Foundation biologists documenting dolphins, whales and fish species, and monitoring coral reefs. The data is passed along to Cascadia Research Collective for cataloging.

The use of photo-identification of individual dolphins and whales based upon natural markings is used as an alternative to identification based upon artificial markings, such as tagging and freeze branding. The presence of nicks, scars, and notches on the dorsal fin provides a sufficient set of features for identifying individual adult dolphins.Some notches are caused by dolphins biting each other. All too often, others are a result of entanglement in fishing gear. Using photo-ID, residency patterns, migrations, associations, reproduction, and the impacts of entanglement emerge.

Participants set sail everyday, according to the project and weather conditions. Your duties onboard consist in helping gather data, to include photo ids. Dolphin behavior is recorded together with geographic position, group size and composition, surface activity, and any human inpact. Navigation data is collected in order to estimate dolphins relative sighting frequencies, abundance and distribution. This, along with reef fish and turtle surveys and the daily cooking and cleaning detail of life shared on a boat...


You will live on board the Nautilus a 50' yacht. Find yacht details here...


Cruises are limited to six passenger per week-long charter, and take place from mid September - mid November, and also mid April thorugh May. These are the months of the best weather, the greatest abundance of wildlife and usually the cheapest travel rates!

We work with various partners during this prime wildlife time, It is possible to either join an ongoing trip if space is available - or to book your own group.

The per person price, to include lodging and meals is

Looking for a shorter, but similar time? See Semester Breaks at Sea


VolunTourism Defined:

The conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination.



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