Every year, over 4500 humpback whales visit the Hawaiian Islands in search of warm waters to breed and nurse their young ones. This is a great opportunity for tourists to visit Kauai during this ‘whale watching’ season and witness the magnificent animals in their glory.
This is the time when all of Kauai lights up in celebration of this natural occurrence. As a visitor, you may get additional discounts on a charter trip or on your stay at a vacation rental.
The best whale watching experience is to hop on a boat or charter and see them up close and personal.
You can also watch them from the shores by exploring the best whale watching in Kauai such as Poipu Beach, Kilauea lighthouse or the Napali Coast.
No matter how exciting the adventure, it always helps to go prepared. And that’s why we have prepared this list of 9 Kauai whale watching tips for you to have the best whale watching experience on the island.
9 Kauai Whale Watching Tips
1. Plan during the peak season
Although Humpback whales arrive at the Hawaiian islands in November, there is not much whale activity to be seen until January. January through March is considered the peak whale watching season. If you’ve not already booked your tickets, this is the timeframe to aim for to get the best shot at spotting the humpback whales.
2. Watch them from the best whale watching spots in Kauai
Whales are attracted to warm, shallow waters. So heading to Kauai’s beautiful beaches may give you the much needed glimpse of the whales. Kapaa beach on the south shore and Kealia beach on the coconut coast are known for whale sightings. You can also head to Kilauea Lighthouse on the northshore for the panoramic views. Other spots include Koloa landing Site, Kalalau Trail and Kappa Overlook. Check for recent whale sightings in Kauai and plan accordingly.
3. Listen to the songs of the whales
If you listen intently, you’ll know when a whale is nearby. Whales often come to the surface to breathe, and blow water out of their blowholes. So, when you hear a hissing sound, there’s probably a whale nearby. Remember that whales can hold their breath up to 45 minutes underwater. So if you miss one, it’ll be a long wait until the same whale resurfaces again. It helps to stay alert and keep your senses open.
4. Check the weather or marine forecast before heading to the seas
To ensure your safety, you should take a whale watching boat tour on the calmest day possible. The sea can sometimes be highly unpredictable. Knowing the weather or marine report can be the difference between having a great whale watching tour and an equally bad one. At Makana Charters, your safety is our responsibility and we ensure that we only take the catamaran out on the best days.
5. Choose the best time of the day
Whales are very active during the day. On average, more people are known to have spotted whales before 8am. Also there are a good number of people who have had a whale watching experience post sunset. Whales are wild animals and their sightings can sometimes be unpredictable. To increase the odds, plan your trip during these time frames.
6. Pack for the trip
When on a boat tour, there are chances of a drizzle every now and then. Also, the temperature can get cooler by a few degrees when you’re in the ocean. So better dress in layers and pack your rain jacket.
Having sunscreen and a tight hat will ensure you don’t get sunburnt on a hot day. And we suggest wearing a tight hat because the breeze can get pretty intense and you wouldn’t want to lose a hat on the trip. Wear sturdy shoes to avoid slipping over water onboard. And finally, DO NOT FORGET THE BINOCULARS AND CAMERA!
7. Take appropriate medication
Have you dreaded boat tours before? If you’re not sure about how your body might react on the tour, think about carrying motion sickness medicine in your travel pack. Whales don’t show up with an appointment. So sometimes the wait can get longer than usual. Please take proper medication before the trip to ensure you have the safest and best trip possible.
8. Choose the best tour operator for the boat trip
Taking a whale watching boat tour is your best bet to see and feel the humpback whales closely. So why not choose the best tour operator? At Makana Charters, we have an experienced crew onboard who can increase your chances of seeing playfully surfacing whales. Moreover we’ll make your journey exciting with interesting facts and stories about the island, which might make you view Kauai with a whole new perception.
Finally, It is highly important that you choose the right vessel for your boat tour. With Makana Charters, you get to choose from 3 different catamarans, each with their own unique abilities to ensure that you have the safest trip.
9. Focus on the process and not the result
Whale sightings are just a part of the wonderful collective experience you’ll have onboard. When you join us on our award winning Napali Coast Boat Tour, whale watching is a complimentary bonus! Closely experiencing the mesmerizing Napali Cliffs, intriguing Sea Caves and the scenic beauty around is a must have experience once-in-a-lifetime. Many tourists visit Kauai just to see the Napali Coast!
On the Napali Boat Tour, you’ll get to snorkel on the pristine Napali waters, with the island’s exotic marine life swimming by your side. Unlike the unpredictable whale sightings, this is an experience that is guaranteed on the trip!
Be it a boat tour or an on-shore whale watching experience, the joy of watching the 40-ft long gigantic animals is unparalleled. So make sure you include whale watching in your Kauai travel itinerary and take back memories of a trip well spent.
Bonus Safety Tip: Regulations prohibit chartered boats from arriving within 100 yards of a whale. You should never swim near or touch the whales or other marine animals on the island.