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Spotlight Interview:

Wild Side Specialty Tours

Wild Side Specialty Tours on Oahu’s Leeward Coast offers exceptional ocean and marine life experiences. Their intimate boat charters – with just four to 10 passengers – feature dolphin and whale sightings, swimming with dolphin encounters, reef snorkeling, and opportunities to help in research and conservation efforts.  

Wild Side’s two vessels, Island Spirit and Alakai, are comfortable, environmentally friendly catamarans designed for enhanced dolphin viewing. Island Spirit hosts the Deluxe Wildlife Charter, the ideal family adventure, while Alakai gets underway with the Best of the West. While both excursions offer reef snorkeling and dolphin encounters, Alakai can travel further offshore in less time, and therefore offer year-round whale watching and wildlife sightings of seabirds and large fish.

With so few passengers, Wild Side delivers a unique guest experience that boats with 20 to 70 passengers simply cannot offer. "With four to 10 passengers, we’re like a family on each charter," explains Noelle Shaughnessy, lead crew. "You get to know everyone. In fact, many guests return year after year."

Smaller charter are also better for marine life. "I see changes in dolphin behavior when they are with larger groups. With small groups, they are more relaxed," notes Noelle.

Wild Side’s friendly, knowledgeable marine biologists and certified naturalists share their extensive knowledge of Oahu’s marine life plus Hawaiian heritage and history. Every part of the charter is guided from the dolphin swim to the reef snorkel. Guests learn about the dolphins and whales as well as the reef, its inhabitants, and the threats to this living system. "We also focus on the history of Oahu’s West Side," says Noelle. "We tell the stories of the first Polynesians who voyaged across the Pacific, were greeted by large schools of dolphins, and made landfall in beautiful Makua Valley."

Wild Side charters showcase a wide variety of Hawaii’s marine life species: spinner dolphins, sea turtles, tropical fish, and rays; rare species like bottle nose dolphins, pan tropical spotted dolphins, pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, false killer whales, and whales sharks; plus humpback whales November-April when they are in Hawaiian waters.

And passengers can take part in conservation efforts. For instance, Wild Side partners with Cascadia Research Collective sharing photo identification of rare target species and observed animal behaviors such as pod composition hunting and traveling patterns. Guests can share their own photos and help count species while on board. Wild Side also works with Hawaii Uncharted, a new non-profit focused on tracking and counting whale sharks. Guests can help with these activities and even swim with the whale sharks.

While Wild Side’s marine encounters are amazing, the team also hopes to foster a better appreciation for the ocean and its creatures. "No matter where we live, we can do something for our oceans," says Noelle. "If we lose our oceans, we lose ourselves. We want guests to enjoy wildlife and learn. And we hope they take away something they can share with someone else."


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Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) has emblazoned the most exciting aspects of the sport – famous waves, the world’s best surfers and the crowning of world champions. The legendary VTCS returns to Oahu to celebrate its 36th year Nov. 13 – Dec. 20, 2019. The three-part series lasts 39 days and begins at Haleiwa’s Alii Beach. The second stop is the Vans World Cup, which takes place at the deep-water big wave venue of Sunset Beach from Nov. 25–Dec. 6, and the third and final event, the Billabong Pipe Masters, can be witnessed at Pipeline from Dec. 8–20, 2019 where both the Vans Triple Crown and World Surf League Championship Tour simultaneously conclude to crown the 2019 world champion and VTCS series winner and event winner.
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Thousands of runners from around the world participate in the Honolulu Marathon, a 26.2-mile course with spectacular views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.
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