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28 Nov 2018
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Kauai Activities

Whale Watching Season on Kaua’i

Kaua'i whale watching tours are best during the winter and into early spring when you'll have the greatest chance to catch a glimpse of the majestic creatures. Kohola (pronounced Ko-Ho-La), Hawaiian for Humpback Whales, migrate to the warm waters of Hawai’i to breed, give birth, and nurse their keiki (pronounced Kay-Key) sometimes as early as October. It is estimated that about 10,000 humpback whales make the journey to the tropical waters of the aloha state each year. Whale Watching Season in Hawai’i typically runs from December to May every year, however, the best time to see these gentle giants in action is January through March. 

About Humpback Whales

These mammals do not have teeth; they have baleen, which are plates located inside the whales' mouths used to filter small fish, plankton, krill, and other small ocean animals. An average humpback whale will eat 4,400-5,500 lbs of food each day by filtering large amounts of seawater.

At birth, keiki kohola are about 12 feet long and can weigh about 2,000 pounds. The average adult humpback whale will range in length from 39-52 feet and in weight from 28-33 short tons. Humpbacks communicate by exhibiting a variety of behaviors such as blowing, breaching (jumping out of the water), tail or fin slapping, and many others.

If they are close enough to shore you are likely to see their activities from the Kaua’i shorelines. Some of our favorite spots to view their impressive water acrobatics include Shipwreck's Beach, Makahuena Point, Poipu Beach, and Spouting Horn.

Shipwreck’s Beach 

Makahuena Point

Poipu Beach

Spouting Horn

Whale Watching Boat Tours

Looking for a closer view of these majestic creatures? If your sea legs are ready, your best bet for a more intimate encounter will be by boat tour. 

Here are a few boat tour operators who offer departures from the Kukuiula Harbor in Sunny Poipu:

Kauai Sea Rider Adventures

December through April Kauai Sea Riders offers a special two hour Zodiac adventure to view the Humpback whales in their winter playground. 

Duration: 2 hours | When: 3:45pm daily | Boat: 25' Zodiac | Cost: Approximately $110 pp | Phone: 808.332.7238

Outfitters Kauai Sea Kayak Tour

This Kauai whalewatch sea kayak tour takes you to secret beaches hidden on Kauai’s rugged Poipu shore. Whale watching. Snorkeling. Bodysurfing. An active day of discovery from a unique sea kayaking perspective. This south-side coastal tour of Poipu and Koloa is truly an unexpected Kauai adventure activity (includes lunch and drinks).

Duration: 8 hours | When: 7am daily | Boat: Kayak | Approximately $129-159 pp | Phone: 808.332.7238

Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures

A romantic experience toward Maha'ulepu and Kipu Kai on a custom 55' Gold Coast catamaran. Enjoy a relaxing cruise and sunset at sea. Pupus (appetizers) & cocktails.

Duration: 2 hours | When: 4pm Thursdays | Boat: 55’ Catamaran | Approximately $89 pp | Phone: 808.335.6833

There are also many others who depart from Port Allen (about 20 minutes west of Poipu):

Blue Dolphin Charters

Available during the Kauai Whale Watching Season (November – March). Share the beauty of Kauai’s south shore with some of the world’s largest and most peaceful creatures. (light food and drinks included)

Duration: 2 hours | When: 3:30pm daily | Boat: 65’ Catamaran | Approximately $69-$89 pp | Phone: 808.335.5553

Kauai Sea Tours

This 2-hour snorkel tour includes marine life encounters, snorkeling and a picnic deli lunch with beverages in a secluded harbor . Encounter playful Dolphins, Humpback whales, Sea Turtles, colorful reef fish and the natural beauty of Kauai's southern shores (not NaPali). Pupus (appetizers) and drinks included.

Duration: 2 hours | When: 3:45pm SU-WE-FR | Boat: 60’ Catamaran | Cost: $95 pp | Phone: 808.335.5309

Holo Holo Charters

Enjoy a beautiful sunset like a kama’aina (local resident), as you set sail along Kauai’s sunny south shore listening to the classic mellow sounds of Hawaii’s artists from the 1970’s. Enjoy an all-inclusive, fun-filled evening of local food, music and genuine aloha hospitality service. Aloha attire is more than welcome. Aloha Sunset Tour is available November 18th to January 15th 2019, seven days a week.

Duration: 2 hours | When: 3:45pm daily | Boat: 50’ Catamaran | Approximately $85 pp | Phone: 808.335.0815

Although 10,000 migrating whales sounds like a lot, Hawaiian Humpback Whales have been listed as endangered species since the 1970s. In 1992, the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was created to protect humpbacks and their Hawaiian habitat. The boundary of the sanctuary encompasses approximately 1,218 square nautical miles of coastal and ocean waters around the islands of Maui, Lanaʻi, and Molokaʻi, and parts of Oʻahu, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi.

Want to get involved and help the humpbacks? Now you can volunteer to count whale activity from the shorelines. Find more kohola info by visiting NOAA’s website.

Ready to see the whales? We'd love to welcome you to Poipu, Kauai and give you more of the local's scoop on whale watching in the area!

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