Dolphin Quest’s Wee Tots Program an Adventure of a Lifetime for Preschoolers

T and I meet Hua the dolphin and Cole the trainer during our Wee Tots experience at Dolphin Quest on the Big Island of Hawaii.

As I mentioned Monday, the Big Island of Hawaii is an animal lover’s paradise with something special to offer at pretty much every turn. Whether on land, in air, or underwater, the Big Island offers everyone a little something wild to enjoy and appreciate throughout their visit.

T and another Wee Tots participant wait for their turn in the Dolphin Quest lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

A trainer with the Dolphin Quest staff lead some Wee Tots participants in a tutorial of the small touch-tank as they wait for their turn in the dolphin lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Dolphin Hua and Trainer Cole get ready for our Wee Tots encounter at Dolphin Quest, Big Island, Hawaii.

T and I meet Hua for the first time!

Another experience that the Big Island offers animal-loving visitors is the opportunity to get up close and personal with a large pod of dolphins at the Dolphin Quest lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort. Last year when we stayed there, our room’s balcony overlooked the Dolphin Quest lagoon, so T got to watch the dolphins play, eat, and be cared for during pretty much our entire visit. Luckily for him, we also gave in and signed him and me up for their Wee Tots program geared toward toddlers and preschool-aged kids; better yet, T (and I for that matter) loved it.

T pets Hua for the first time.

T tells Trainer Cole that he’s four years old after he tells T Hua is the same age. Hua was born Easter 2008, and it’s no accident that his name mean’s “egg” in Hawaiian.

A great shot of T feeding Hua. It’s experiences just like this one that make the Wee Tots program at Dolphin Quest so special for the littlest dolphin lover in your family.

For children ages two- to four-years-old (and one accompanying adult per child), Dolphin Quest’s Wee Tots interactive experience gives smaller kids the chance to meet a dolphin one-on-one for 10 minutes in a very safe and controlled shallow-water environment. The staff at Dolphin Quest recognizes that kids this age are typically too small to “swim with the dolphins,” so they’ve created a very special program where young children can pet, feed, and splash with one of the dolphins during their visit. Of course, Dolphin Quest staff capture the moment in photos (video for hire available also) so you can enjoy the moments with your kids long after the 10 minutes are up.

Hua splashes us during our Wee Tots encounter at Dolphin Quest, Big Island, Hawaii.

Trainer Cole leads T in some one-on-one time with Hua during a Wee Tots encounter at Dolphin Quest, Big Island, Hawaii.

This year, we returned for another week’s stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Sadly, the rooms that overlook the lagoon were under renovation and we had to stay in another area of the resort, but that didn’t mean that we forgot about our Dolphin Quest friends. And I think T enjoyed Wee Tots even more this time around, if that’s even possible. In fact, T was so comfortable being close to Hua (the dolphin) that Cole (the trainer) let me step back a bit on some of the activities.

T and I pose with Hua during our Wee Tots encounter at Dolphin Quest, Big Island, Hawaii. We’ll see you next time, Hua… just not with Wee Tots!

Sadly, this will be T’s last year for Wee Tots as he will age out by our next visit to the Big Island. However, I do not think this will be T’s last dolphin encounter, or mine for that matter. Dolphin Quest offers a number of programs for all-ages and group sizes of all time lengths no matter what type of experience you are looking for. In fact, they even offer a “trainer for a day” program where you pay Dolphin Quest to do their job for a whole day. While that might sound like some sort of scam to some (paying to work? shouldn’t it be the other way around?!), to aspiring marine biologists everywhere it’s pretty much a dream come true, or at least a perfect way to get their feet wet on those dreams before diving in head-first.

As I was walking to the Dolphin Quest lagoon to view our photos, I came across this! After asking about it more inside, turns out that during the off-season, Dolphin Quest Big Island holds free weekly shows to entertain and educate the public on the bottle-nosed dolphin. Fantastic!

A Dolphin Quest trainer educates onlookers at one of their free weekly shows at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

A dolphin entertains onlookers during one of Dolphin Quest’s free weekly shows at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Another wonderful – and free – activity that Dolphin Quest on the Big Island offers is a free weekly show. On Tuesday late afternoons during the off-season, Dolphin Quest staff hold a free show for visitors to sit on the lawn and learn more about the dolphins and watch them “dance” to a couple of songs as entertainment. I happened to pass by the weekly show as I returned to the Dolphin Quest shop to view our photos from our Wee Tots experience. In fact, I wasn’t even going to go and look over our photos but instead wait until we got home so I could just view them online (as you can view and buy photos online for up to a month after your dolphin program), but C sort of pushed me into going and getting it done before we left the island. Thanks, C! Not only did we get our photo and video a lot sooner but I got to see a show, too!

T and I were thrilled to take part in our Dolphin Quest encounter at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I’d encourage anyone with a love of dolphins to check out one of Dolphin Quest’s three locations (Big Island, Oahu, and Bermuda) should you find yourself near one while on vacation. While not an inexpensive experience, I find that the money spent is well worth the priceless memories you and your children will have for years to come.

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