Cruise Hawaii with Richard Dawkins

9 Days from £8,495 3 December 2021

Very limited places left

Accompany the evolutionary biologist and highly-regarded author Richard Dawkins on this cruise around the fascinating islands of Hawaii.

From the Volcanic National Park to abundant rare wildlife and stunning landscapes, this is a truly unique expedition. Discover Hawaii’s unique culture and history whilst cruising aboard the Safari Explorer, a rugged expedition yacht small enough to explore where larger ships can’t. Then in the evenings, thought provoking seminars from Richard.

In partnership with Steppes Travel
Cruise Hawaii with Richard Dawkins


You will be met and transferred to the Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona for a day at leisure. Referred to both as ‘Kailua’ and ‘Kona’ by local people, it is where the Hualalai volcano meets the ocean. For an insight into Kona’s interesting history, visit sites such as Hulihee Palace or Mokuaikaua Church.


Depart your hotel at 08:00 to explore Big Island’s active volcanoes during your half day visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Immerse yourself in the power of this living volcanic landscape, its misty rainforests, thermal ponds, waterfalls and even lava flows. Visit the steam vents and Kilauea Iki lookout which looks relatively tranquil these days. In 1959, it was a seething lava lake, with lava fountains up to 600 metres. The crater is up to 1,600 metres long and 915 metres across, and the floor is 120 metres below the overlook.

Take lunch at Lava Rock Cafe, before travelling to Kawaihae Harbour, to embark your boat, the Safari Explorer. You will have time to settle in to your cabin before sitting down this evening to your first dinner aboard the yacht. The guides will give a presentation full of information about the week ahead.

The Safari Explorer is a nimble 36-passenger yacht that cuts through the gentle surf of the Pacific Ocean at a maximum cruising speed of 10 knots, the 45-metre-long Safari Explorer is capable of navigating to the wildest edges of the Hawaiian Islands.

Offering a comparatively small number of cabins, an impressive 2:1 guest-to-crew ratio and armed with the ability to sail to places that most other vessels are not certified to visit, the Safari Explorer feels decidedly exclusive.

Guests can lounge on the sundeck or venture out in kayaks and on paddle boards to explore the dynamic ocean below. Snorkelling gear and wetsuits are provided, as are hiking poles for the excursions on to the islands, and guests will also find an array of fitness equipment, a book library and a wine library onboard.

All cabins feature televisions, heated tile floors, en-suite bathrooms with showers and binoculars, while some benefit from jacuzzi tubs, balconies and private sitting areas.


During this cruise, Professor Richard Dawkins will be talking about the evolutionary principles that volcanic island chains illustrate. The evolutionary story in Hawaii is similar to the Galapagos – both young, volcanic archipelagos – except that Hawaii has been more impacted up by human colonisation.

The Kona coastline is mostly rocky shore, and desert land conditions produce very little runoff. This make’s Kona’s waters some of the clearest in the world, and nowhere is this more apparent than Pawai (pronounced “Pavai”) Bay, just north of downtown Kona. This secluded bay is a protected marine preserve and frequented by locals. It provides some amazing snorkelling just offshore and great rock-pooling along the coast. Spend the morning snorkelling these waters. Visibility is often in the hundreds of feet, and the reef is healthy and prolific. In the afternoon, sail to your next location as you search for marine creatures.

This evening the Safari Explorer will anchor at an offshore location for a thrilling night-time snorkelling adventure with giant manta rays. The manta rays that live in the Hawaiian waters belong to the Manta alfredi species. These so-called reef manta rays are the second largest species of manta rays in the world and can grow up to a wingspan of 5.5 metres. The reef manta rays in Hawaii do not migrate and spend their lives in the coastal waters around the islands.

During the manta ray night snorkel, you will spend your time in the water holding onto a floating board. A bright light attached to this board shines down into the water attracting plankton. The manta rays feed on this plankton and come very close to the water surface while feeding. It is a mesmerising experience.


Kaloko-Honokohau is the site of an ancient Hawaiian settlement, comprising historic temples, fishponds and petroglyphs. The park is also renowned for its walking trails that give access to some of the island’s geological features. Turtles are frequent visitors to the shores of Honokohau National Park, so be sure to keep an eye on the shallow waters close to land to spot them.


In ancient times, the community of Olowalu on the west of the island of Maui was known throughout the Hawaiian Islands as a place of sanctuary, however it also has a turbulent and poignant history. Today, the community of Olowalu is home to one of the most unique ocean reef systems in all the Hawaiian Islands, known locally as Turtle Reef. Snorkel in this known sea turtle habitat among 100-year-old coral gardens that are swarming with an abundance of tropical marine life. Sail through the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, a designated expanse of shallow warm waters that surround the main Hawaiian Islands, and learn from the guides about one of the world’s most important protected marine habitats. From the decks, search for humpback whales, spinner dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals and reef fish.


Wake up to views of the tranquil island of Lanai, the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii, and prepare for a full day of water and land-based excursions. Enormous sea cliffs line the coastline and ancient volcanic plugs protrude above the surface of the ocean. You can explore these calm waters by floating atop the surf with a snorkel or by heading out on a paddle board or in a small boat. Ask the onboard guides about the offshore wreck of a WWII tanker that rests off the coast of Shipwreck Beach.

On land hike to Puu Pehe (otherwise known as Sweetheart Rock), an ocean rock formation steeped in folklore that rises majestically 25 metres out of the sea and towers above the crashing surf. Learn about the history of Lanai and its historical plantation days, when it produced 75% of the world’s pineapples. It will also be possible to visit to the quaint Lanai Culture and Heritage Center to absorb the history and traditional culture of colloquially known “Pineapple Island”.


Today, the captain will purposefully navigate to a site that uncovers more of what the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. Dramatic volcanic backdrops, marine life sightings and opportunities to embark on kayak explorations are all possibilities.      


Spend the day on Molokai meeting local people and learning about the traditions of the Hawaiian people. In the evening, enjoy one of Hawaii’s cultural treasures, a pa’ina (feast) held at the Molokai Museum. Discover the history of this ancient homeland as you experience singing, dancing, traditional cuisine and Hawaiian decor.


You have the opportunity to add a tailor-made pre or post-sailing tour extension. Our partners Steppes Travel are experts on the US, so can help you to further customise any onward travels that you might be interested in pursuing, from Yosemite to New Orleans, Nantucket to Colorado, and everything in between.