Dolphins and You is one of the only dolphin swim tours in Oahu that is certified as an eco-friendly tour by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA). With World Environment Day and World Oceans Day this month, it seemed like a good time to explain to our guests what that means and why we have it.
Since the tour was founded 30 years ago, Dolphins and You has been committed to sustainable practices. The most concrete expression of this commitment is our certification with HEA. The Hawaii Ecotourism Association defines sustainable tourism as tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.
Dolphins and You applies for the certification annually. Here’s what we were required to demonstrate this year and the specific ways we’ve put the requirements into motion.
Hawaii Ecotourism Association requirements:
- A current member of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.
- In compliance with all Federal, State, and Local regulations for all products/services, and commits to abide by all necessary permit conditions.
- Has a Sustainability Commitment Statement posted on the website that guides its operations and demonstrates commitment toHEA’s Sustainable Tourism principles.
- Is a commercial endeavor primarily engaged in providing guided tours and/or activities.
- Provides accurate information to guests that can be referenced.
- Utilizes marketing that is accurate and demonstrates responsible travel practices.
- Has a system to monitor and respond to guest and employee feedback.
- Contributes to conservation outcomes annually.
- Contributes to the communities in which they operate annually.
What specifically does Dolphins and You do to meet these sustainability requirements?
- We follow state law requirements to enforce that all tour guests may not touch the marine life or reef that they encounter.
- Our guides explain to guests the best way to interact with dolphins in the water to make them most comfortable and manage the guests in the water.
- We have recycling available on board the tour boat.
- We do not use single-use plastics on tours.
- We offer reef-safe sunscreen for purchase.
- We instruct crew members to try to pick up any trash that the tour encounters along the way to dive locations. On average, the crew picks up two pieces of trash per person, per tour.
How does Dolphins and You preserve and enhance Hawaii’s natural, cultural and human assets?
- From the initial E Hō Mai ceremony—a traditional song of hope and prayer to the Heavens that is presented with flowers for a safe journey through the waters—that takes place before each dolphin tour, to the ending hula performed as a post-excursion finale, we make it a top priority to educate and perpetuate the beautiful ancient history and culture of the island ʻāina (land) and its people.
- We provide avenues for local residents to train for a career. We have provided training for several of its guides to secure their Captain’s License.
- We have donated tour tickets to Kamaile Academy students. Kamaile Academy is a PreK – 12 Hawaiian focused, arts integrated public conversion charter school that teaches and emphasizes Hawaiian culture, including traditional Polynesian navigation.