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Monday, October 31, 2016

Whale Watching on Kauai

Enjoying a day of whale watching on Kauai is one of the highlights of visiting our beautiful island from November through April. Congregating by the thousands in the waters just off our shores, you can see humpback whales as they surface, slap their tails and fins, and blow giant spouts of vapor into the air. 

As autumn begins and temperatures begin to fall, thousands of visitors travel to Hawaii to Enjoy our mild weather and beautiful coastlines. When you book your Kauai vacation during this time, you are likely to catch a glimpse of a different type of visitor to Hawaii: the majestic kohola, or humpback whale.

Why Do Whales Travel to Kauai?

Like other migratory animals that visit Hawaii, humpback whales travel great distances to reach the protected waters of Kauai. After spending the summer in Alaskan waters feeding on krill and small fish, large groups of humpback whales, known as pods, cross nearly 3000 miles of open ocean to breed and give birth in our tropical paradise.

Whale watching on Kauai is an annual favorite in part because of the huge numbers of individuals that winter here. It is estimated that over 10,000 humpback whales migrate from the frigid and food-rich waters of Alaska to Hawaii each year. With so many kohola in the water, successful winter whale watching sessions are the norm.

What to Expect When Whale Watching on Kauai

Humpback whales tend to be very active when they visit Hawaii, so be prepared to see more than just the occasional spout. These acrobatic giants can literally launch themselves out of the water, a behavior known as breaching. They also will swim on their backs holding one or both flippers high in the air.

Whale watchers may also be rewarded with displays of tail or flipper slapping by these behemoths. Kohola are often seen raising their huge tail flukes and pectoral fins out of the water and then bringing them down with great force, “slapping” them on the surface of the water.

While nobody knows for sure why they perform these behaviors, it is thought that it may be a form of communication between humpbacks. Whatever the reason, it makes for great whale watching on Kauai each year.

Where to Enjoy Whale Watching on Kauai 

There are many ways to engage in whale watching on Kauai. Because humpbacks tend to stay close to shore, visitors to Kauai can opt to watch from any of several popular locations on land. If you want to get up close and personal, choose from one of the many whale watching boat trips offered around the island. 

Whale Watching on Kauai from Land

While they may be seen from just about anywhere on the coast of the island, here are a few of our favorite whale watching spots along the shores of Kauai.

·      Poipu Beach Park – Located at the southern end of Kauai, Poipu Beach Park is a favorite destination for shopping, dining, golf and, of course, whale watching.
·      Kealia Overlook – Right between mile markers 9 and 10 on Route 56, the Kealia Overlook provides a panoramic view of the ocean that is perfect for whale watching on Kauai.
·      Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge  Home of the Kilauea Lighthouse, the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best spots in Hawaii to see whales during the season. The high vantage point also frequently rewards visitors with sightings of spinner dolphins and many native and migratory seabirds. Be sure to bring your US National Park Pass to cover the entrance fee!

Whale Watching on Kauai from the Water

There are many charters offering day trips for whale watching in Kauai. One of the main benefits of these tours is the knowledgeable people that run them. The best captains know the hot spots where humpbacks typically gather, and where they have been spotted in recent days.

One of our favorite outfits for whale watching excursions is Capt. Andy’s. Plying the waters surrounding Kauai since 1980, Capt. Andy’s offers several options for trips and is dedicated to sharing their Aloha spirit.

Please keep in mind that while it can be tempting to try and get close to kohola in their own environment, it is forbidden to touch a whale or attempt to feed them. It is also illegal for any vessel to purposefully approach humpback whales within 500 feet. However, whales are inquisitive by nature and may approach a drifting boat out of their own curiosity.

Book Your Kauai Vacation Today!


To see these incredible marine mammals in one of the most beautiful locations in the world is a true treat. Call Kauai Vacation Rentals today to reserve your time on the Garden Island, and remember to pack your binoculars!

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