FAQ – Dolphin Retreats

Partial Ocean Rooms Royal KonaCan I have my own room?

We will do all the booking for you!

Prices are based on double occupancy, 2 people per room with each person having their own bed and a partial ocean views (if you wish to have a room with full ocean views, it will require an upgrade – please indicate your desire for this on the registration form).   Couples may have a larger shared bed where possible.  Please indicate on the registration form that you wish to have a larger shared bed in your room if you are a couple.    If you do not know anyone on this trip, you will be paired with a like-minded guest where possible.    There’s a possibility of getting a private room but it is is $600 extra.  Please indicate your preference on the registration form if you wish to be considered for a private room and we will do our best to accomodate you.

NOTE:  Many of you will be coming from the mainland with a 3 to 6 hour time difference or more.  It is highly recommended you arrive a day or two early to adjust (you will need book a room on your own if you decide to do this).   Please let me know if you will come earlier/stay later and I will put you in touch with the hotel group sales manager for this purpose.

transformationCan I bring my children?

YES!  If you wish to bring your children under the age of 16, there may be an additional cost for extra swimming guides who can assist them in the ocean.  It will be on a case by case basis – please contact Makara to discuss the details and we’ll go from there.

Some of the most enjoyable experiences has been watching young people’s eyes shine like diamonds after their first experience with the dolphins so they are so very much welcome!  Just know that we most likely will have to hire extra swimming guides specifically to assist them in the open ocean.

I have weak knees, how will I get on and off the boat into the ocean?

We will have staff members from the boating company assisting you in and out of the water.   When you get in the water, you will simply slide your butt off the top of the ladder and plop yourself in the crystal blue ocean – it’s that easy!   Upon returning to the boat, first you will remove your fins while still in the water, hand it to whoever is ready to assist you and then you will step up the short ladder while being simultaneously hoisted up with minimal pressure on your knees!  Sound good?  I thought so!

Do you have any scholarships or discounts available?

No.  While every effort is made to secure reasonable deals, this is an expedition involving a semi-luxury oceanside hotel, a top notch professional boating company with experienced captains and swimming guides.  Because this is not a budget trip, if you are looking to cut corners or save money, this is not the right retreat for you.   The goal is to go above and beyond to provide you with a powerful, life-changing and memorable healing experience.

Do I need to be an advanced swimmer for the dolphin swims?

No, you can be a beginner and be just fine!  Lifejackets and float devices will be available for those who do not wish to snorkel underwater.   We will also have on hand joyful, fun and experienced swimming guides to show you the way in the water. (including Makara and one or two others).

Kona Beach for Snorkeling PracticeI’ve never used snorkeling gear before.  Do I need to be an expert with this stuff?

Not at all!   Even Makara was a novice snorkeler on his first dolphin expedition!  After getting fitted with them at Jack’s Diving Locker, you will be taken to Kona Beach (see photo to the left) less than a mile from the hotel where you’ll try on and experiment with your snorkeling gear in the shallow water to make sure it fits you to a “T.”  If the equipment is in any way faulty, leaky or doesn’t feel right, the staff at Jack’s will gladly help you find a better fit!

I’ve never swum in the open ocean!  I’m apprehensive about this.   Will I be safe?

This is a common question and even Makara experienced a little of this fear before his very first boat ride but the moment he slid in and was surrounded by dolphins, all remaining traces of fear magically disappeared!   He felt right at home in the warm seas, especially when the dolphins were near.  There’s something about being in their incredibly joyful presence that instantly put him (and probably you) at ease.   The more he swam with them, the further he got away from this irrational fear.  In fact, Makara felt so at home in the water that he was often the first go in the water and the last to climb back on the boat!  By the time he left the Big Island, he was aching to get back in the water with the dolphins.   They are highly evolved and intelligent sea creatures and are by nature joyful, playful and incredibly healing that you can’t help but feel safe!

I’ve had problems with motion sickness in the past.  What should I do?  

If you’ve experienced motion sickness in the past or you are concerned, please consult either your doctor or your pharmacist. There are some new and improved ways to avoid motion sickness and they should be able to help you.   If you do decide to take something, make sure you do so at least one full hour prior to each boat trip.   Eat lightly for breakfast, avoid spicy foods, carbonated beverages, get plenty of sleep the night before and avoid consuming alcohol the evening prior to the boat trip.

There are many products on the market that could help you with motion sickness – check with a qualified medical person about what to bring with you to Kona.   Here are some things we’ve heard about – ask your doctor or pharmacist about them:  Dramamine, Bonine, Ginger tablets, Ginger Ale soda, and Pressure Point Wristbands.    Others have used one or a variety of them with success.  Only you can check them out and see if they are right for for you.

What about sharks?

Believe it or not, they are rarely seen and according to Joan Ocean, dolphins and sharks actually get along just fine but chances are you won’t see one – they are actually timid and shy so they tend to stay away from humans.     Makara has gone on several boat trips and did not see one shark (except for the very friendly and gentle giant and toothless whale shark, which we actually swam with!).   Don’t worry, if we come upon a rarely sighted whale shark, you will not have to go in the water if you choose not to.   Aboard the boat you will have seasoned captains and swim guides who will inform you on what’s safe and what’s not!   You’ll be in good hands!

I am deaf, can I come?

Yes of course!

However, there are a few things you need to know upfront.

  1. First, this retreat is NOT exclusively for the deaf.
  2. Second, be honest with yourself and answer this question:  “Am I comfortable around other hearing people in an intimate group setting?”

Please know that while Makara is proficient with ASL, his first and primary means of communication has been speaking and lipreading since childhood.  He has built a professional speaking career around the gift of speaking.  See his other website that was built for that purpose.

Just so that you know, TWO certified ASL interpreters have already been secured to help facilitate the seminars (i.e. interpreting guest speakers and fielding questions from the hearing participants, etc).  So if you decide to come, you (and I) won’t miss out on group discussions and the lectures.  The interpreters will most likely not be on the boat as Makara will sign where necessary and the seats are limited to 12 participants.

Having said all of this, if you honestly feel comfortable in a mixed group situation, than you are absolutely more than welcome!  Sign up as soon as you can and put down your security deposit!

On the other hand, if you prefer to be in the company of “deaf-only” folks, it’s strongly advised you wait until 2018 where Makara may offer a dolphin retreat exclusively for the deaf/HOH (i.e. no guarantee).

If you have any questions about this, send an email to Makara and he’ll be super duper happy to answer them before you make the commitment to join us in November 2017!

What airport will I fly to and how do I get to the Royal Kona Hotel?

You are responsible for booking your own flight to Kona International airport (KOA) and securing ground transportation to the hotel.  It is strongly recommended you purchase travel insurance when booking your flight.  You will need to take a taxi to the hotel.

What is your cancellation/refund policy?

If you cancel:

Up until Sept 1, 2017: 75% refund
Between Sept 1 to Sept 15, 2017:  50% refund
After Sept 15, 2017: no refund

Please note that there will be no refunds or discounts for arriving late, leaving early, flight cancellations, travel delays or illness.   No refunds for late arrivals or early departures will be given or if your boarding pass was denied (i.e. improper documentation).

Please understand that if you choose not to join us in any of the activities (boat trips, seminars, etc) you are not be eligible for a refund.

If we have to cancel the retreat, we will refund to you all deposits and payments you have paid.   We cannot however compensate you for airfare or travel costs incurred.

Any questions?  Please contact Makara using the contact form on this website.

Do I need a rental car?

You will NOT need a rental car while staying in Kona but if you choose to rent one, it is highly recommended you book through the Discount Car Rental website.   The nice thing about booking through them is no credit card is required and you can cancel your reservation without penalty at any time.  Makara had a great experience with them in Kona and found deals that he was very happy with including unlimited mileage in relatively new and clean vehicles.

In particular, Dollar and Thrifty rental companies are recommended because they don’t force you to buy additional insurance and are very relaxed about minor scratches/door dents and the like.

If you are renting a car and need directions to the hotel, input the following address in your phone GPS or print out Google Maps:

75-5852 Ali’i Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Or email Makara for directions and instructions will be included in the post registration package!

Can I attend part of the trip and/or leave early?

One of the most powerful experiences one can have on a trip like this is being part of a pod of people all of whom are having incredible experiences as one mind (or one pod).   It is strongly encouraged you stay with us from the beginning to the very end in order to get the maximum benefit.  The retreat begins on Wednesday, November 1st at 12 pm and ends on November 8th at 1 pm.   Of course, if you choose to leave early, no one will stop you but you will not receive a refund.

Am I obligated to attend all activities and events?

No, you may choose to stay behind at the hotel or explore downtown Kona if that’s to your liking but no refunds will be given if you make these choices.

Are meals included?

Due to the wide variety of dietary restrictions in this day and age, you are in charge of your own meals throughout the entire retreat except during the boat rides where lunch will be provided.  You will indicate your sandwich preference on the registration form.  There are plenty of restaurants within a walking distance from the hotel for your daily meals.

Alba Suntan LotionI burn easily – how do I protect myself from the sun?

Even though Makara tans relatively easily, he was completely pale upon arrival on the Island.   Alba Botanica Hawaiian Suntan lotion SPF 30 was what he used and it worked very nicely – he had no bad cases of sunburn.  The sun is very strong on the Big Island, particularly in Kona.  If you are in need of shade while outdoors, it is recommended you bring a hat and long sleeve/cotton shirt/pants for additional protection.   The boat will have partial shade.

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What This is NOT About:

  • riding on the fins of dolphins like the TV character “Flipper” – touching dolphins like you would with those captured from the sea and placed in aquariums (or other sea creatures for that matter).  You will not be allowed to touch any of them.
  • a budget adventure – if you’re looking to save money and cut corners, this is not the right trip for you.  You will experience the best Hawaii has to offer including friendly and knowledgeable boat captains, an oceanside hotel conveniently located to shops, restaurants and within a walking distance to the boating company that will take us to the harbor and back.  You’ll also meet Joan Ocean and possibly other experts along with friendly long-time dolphin swimmers who will assist you both on the boat and in the water.

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Is this trip for me?

YES if you:

  • are looking to deepen and accelerate your spiritual journey to the next level
  • think you will experience a paradigm shift within and around you
  • want to learn how to “hear with your heart” versus your physical ears
  • are at a crossroad but aren’t clear what to do next
  • are open to experiencing the mysterious underwater world & the Big Island
  • always wanted to swim with the dolphins in the wild
  • are tired of living in fear of the unknown
  • are afraid of swimming in the open ocean and want to face that fear head-on
  • are ready to experience the possibility of a greater opening of your heart center/chakra

NO if you:

  • are looking for a social trip, mainly to sightsee and party at nightclubs and drink
  • prefer to be in control of your own schedule and aren’t a “go with the flow” type
  • are not comfortable opening up in a group setting (i.e. group sharing sessions)
  • are deaf/HOH who prefer exclusively deaf/HOH groups (possibly in 2018)
  • don’t feel emotionally stable, are on anti-depressions or similar medications, or are under psychiatric care
  • have serious health concerns
  • are looking for a budget trip to cut corners or are the type to seek a refund if you back out of an activity (absolutely no refunds for missed events/activities – see main page for refund/cancellation policy)