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Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

Seattle, Washington
2 posts
1 review
Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?


My wife and 2 boys (9 and 6) will be in Kauai mid-February 2013. I would like to take them whale/dolphin watching during our vacation. My question is.....considering my kids age what is the best tour to watch whales/dolphins. I'm looking at a 2 to 3.5 hr tour since my kids might get sick or get bored. Thanks in advance.......


Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
Level Contributor
17,990 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

Aloha from Kaua'i!

I'd say that watching them from the beach is the best and most dolphin and/or whale friendly way to see them personally. While there are many, many companies here that will take you out during whale season, you should never go with one that "guarantees" sightings - if they do, the liklihood is that they are chasing them, which is a big no-no.

Here are a couple of links that talk about some practices that are not beneficial to the mammals:


And an excerpt:

"Hawaiian spinner dolphins spend their nights in a high-energy hunt for food. They specialize in foraging on small mid-depth fish, shrimp and squid, averaging an intake of up to four prey items per minute for ten hours or more. It's an intense, high-caloric expenditure of energy that is balanced by their daytime periods of rest.

Soon after dawn, the dolphins head for shallow bays close to shore where they can rest, avoid sharks and other predators, socialize and care for their young. In their resting mode, they do not appear asleep, nor are they motionless; they move slowly and synchronously back and forth, swimming in formation as they attend to their social needs and recharge for the coming "night shift."

Several scientific studies have now documented that human interactions can disturb and alter spinner dolphin behavior. The clearly defined resting periods and the geographic specificity of the habitual resting areas make the dolphins particularly susceptible to the effects of frequent, prolonged, and intrusive presence of humans.

"One of the most common objections we hear to regulating human-dolphin interaction is that the dolphins can choose to swim away if they don't like it," says NOAA's Chris Yates. "But if they are forced to leave their rest area to escape human disturbance, there are a number of potential effects that can be detrimental to the dolphins."

These effects include shorter rest periods that lead to compromised foraging efficiency, and reduced energy available for growth and reproduction. If dolphins are driven from their resting areas by humans wanting to experience "closeness" with them, the dolphins may also be forced into areas where they are much more vulnerable to predators.

In one study of bottlenose dolphins, researchers found a direct correlation between dolphin-watching tours and significant reduced dolphin populations. Although that connection has not been firmly established for Hawaiian spinner dolphins, recorded observations of fewer and smaller pods in Hawai'i's waters have sparked concern that the rapid increase in "swim with the dolphins" activities in Hawai'i is having a negative effect on dolphin populations here."

I'd say any reliable company such as Captain Andy's or Holoholo Charters would be a good bet - they simply take you out and if you see dolphins or whales - that is a plus - but they don't "chase" them.

Not meaning to lecture, but protecting our ocean mammals and other creatures here is sometimes difficult and not all tour operators are overly concerned about their actions on the animals.

Malama Pono,


Santa Rosa...
Level Contributor
18,990 posts
1 review
2. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

Kauai doesn't have the large number of whale watching 'specific" tours that ,say, Maui does. On Kauai the tours of the Napali coastline is the main draw with whale / dolphin sightings during these tours common . The captain will point them out and cut the engines if they're within a certain distance as required by law. However they won't specifically go out just looking for them.

If you take one of these tours you're sure to see many dolphin. They love to follow the boats shortly after they exit Port Allen harbor and follow along the southshore of the island towards the Napali coastline. There's no need to even go look for them, they'll be there, and qute to the delight of the passengers above watching the dolphin chase alongside the bow of the boat. You're likely to see a whale or two but the captain won't purposely go looking for them. Typically they'll slow down the boat or cut the motors completely if need be.

Honestly, I've never seen a child that age bored on one of these tours. Well, not that I remember and if I did it was a rarity. They all seem to enjoy the bounce of the boat as it rides the waves and the occasional wave spray splashing over. The tours stop for about 45 minutes of snorkeling while the crew prepares the buffet lunch.

At that time of year the tours leave out of Port Allen on the south shore. These would be:

Captain Andy's


Blue Dolphin

Kauai SeaTours

Edited: 10 October 2012, 19:20
La Mirada...
Destination Expert
for Kauai
Level Contributor
18,242 posts
137 reviews
3. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

Ditto what Janet and napa have said...do see the Na Pali Coast by boat....take a morning tour and you will probably see dolphins. In addition to the companies mentioned, a few boats leave from Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor in Waimea.

Na Pali Explorer


Na Pali Riders

San Diego...
Level Contributor
303 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

At that time of year, if you have an oceanfront view you should be able to see many whales right from your condo. We have a place in the south (Poipu) and can typically see many sightings per day during whale season. I have even seen two separate groups of whales at the same time.

For that reason though many properties are already fully booked during that time, for 2013.

Kelowna, British...
Level Contributor
29 posts
1 review
5. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

Hi there, were visiting /camping on the north side of Kauai and I was wondering a good look out spot to see dolphins from shore? we do have transportation if we need to drive to a location.

La Mirada...
Destination Expert
for Kauai
Level Contributor
18,242 posts
137 reviews
6. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

I've seen dolphins at Kalihiwai in the early mornings - sometimes from shore or at the top of the road.


7. Re: Best whale/dolphin watching in Kauai?

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