Napali Coast Whale Watching Tour

The Ultimate Guide to Napali Coast Whale Watching Tour

In Adventure, Na Pali Coast by Makana Charters1 Comment

Every year, November through May, Hawaiian Humpback Whales migrate to Kauai for breeding and nursing their young ones. They travel thousands of miles to escape the chilling Alaskan waters and relish in favorable conditions- Thanks to Kauai’s all-year-round moderate climate.

The Garden Isle is a humble abode that not only welcomes tourists, but these marvelous creatures too. This period of whale activity on the island is popularly called Whale Watching Season. Whale watching is a popular winter activity in Kauai and many tourists specifically flock to the island to witness the majestic mammals.

When and Where to Spot Them…

Although whale watching season runs from November to May, the likelihood of spotting the Kohola (Whale in Hawaiian) is not the same at all times. The start and end of the season, i.e, November and May, are times of least whale activity. Humpback whales are highly active during January through March and the likelihood of spotting them on the island is very high at these times.

Whale Watching - Makana Charters

Once you have the right time frame in mind, the next step is to head to locations where the probability of spotting them is the highest. Humpback whales can be spotted from the many lookout points on the island, hiking trails and beaches. The highest concentration of whales is usually observed in the north and west coasts of Kauai. During peak season, Poipu beach on the southwest and Kilauea Lighthouse on the north shore are your best bets for whale watching.

Whale Watching 3 - Makana

If you’re visiting Kauai during the low whale activity season, taking a boat tour is your best option as it drastically increases the likelihood of spotting the whales.

Napali Coast Whale Watching Tour

Speaking of boat tours, whale watching tour doesn’t have to be a solo experience. Taking a boat tour to the coveted Napali coast is an excellent opportunity to explore the Napali coast and see whales in action – All in one go.

It’s a pleasure watching those gigantic mammals from a close distance as they grace the ocean with their acrobatics. You will often see mama and baby whales swimming together. The males are highly active during the season and they put on their best show in an attempt to attract potential partners.

Whale Watching 2 - Makana Charters

The experienced boat captain and crew will know how to spot signs of whale activity and steer towards them for a close and personal whale watching experience. However, you won’t be able to touch the Kohola because:

  1. It can be dangerous to mess with the whales.
  2. The boats can’t get too close because the Hawaiian government has a “100 yard minimum” law enforced to protect these endangered species.

Whales are very active during the season and don’t swim at one place for long. This makes it hard to spot them if they don’t want to be found. On the brighter side, when you spot them, there’s a good chance you’ll come across some spinner dolphins too.

Whale Watching in Kauai - Makana

Carrying binoculars will come in handy for watching the whales from a distance. Keep your camera ready at all times to capture photographs whenever a Kohola does a “Whale Breach” or a “Tail Slap”. These are opportunities not be missed on the whale watching trip.

After a refreshing episode of whale watching, the boats head towards Kauai’s scenic mountainous Napali coast. Depending on the type of tour, there’ll be a brief period of snorkeling and exploration of sea caves followed by a sunset dinner.

Whale and Dolphin Watching In Napali

Why Choose Makana Charters for Your Napali Coast Tour

When it comes to taking a boat tour to the Napali coast (we see dolphins and whales on all our tours), we are the best in business for the following reasons:

1) Locally Owned – Our company is a Native-Hawaiian, family-owned business. This means that the money you spend on the tour stays on the island’s economy, helping to keep Kauai prosperous.

2) Stable Catamaran – Makana is a catamaran, meaning a double hull for extra stability. The water on the Na Pali Coast can often be choppy. Catamarans are known for their ability to cut through the chop and rock side to side much less than a single-hulled boat.

3) Local, Knowledgeable Crew – We only hire local guides who have been here for a long time. Our guides speak from firsthand experience about exploring the coast outside their job, and share their enthusiasm for the Na Pali Coast for all willing to listen.

4) Small yet Spacious – Our boats are small enough to fit inside most caves along the Na Pali Coast. We also max out our passenger limit way below what we are certified to carry, meaning you get plenty of legroom. We also have bathrooms on board.

5) Closest Port to the Coast – We launch out of the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor at Kekaha on Kauai’s west side. This is over 10 miles closer than Port Allen, where most tour boats leave from. This means less travel time to and from the coast, giving you more time to explore what you signed up for – the Na Pali Coast.

6) Deli Lunches – On a 5 hour tour you are bound to get hungry. We offer a great homemade lunch, snacks, soda, and dessert included in the price. Many boats in a comparable price range do not offer this, leaving your stomach growling until satisfied.

7) Snorkeling – Above water tells only part of the story. The Na Pali Coast is a great unspoiled coastline with abundant sea life under the water. Swim with fish, sea turtles, and explore the gorgeous reefs in crystal – clear water. All snorkeling equipment is included in the price.


As the whale watching season comes to an end, the humpback whales leave the island and head back to where they came from. But these amazing creatures are back next winter, like clockwork, to mate, give birth and nurse their young ones, and of course, to grace the island’s visitors with a visual spectacle.

If you are serious about whale watching in Kauai, make sure you book your tour well in advance as Napali Coast boat tours are in high demand during the season.

We wish you a happy “Kohola-Time” on Kauai.

Experience the stunning Napali Coast in the most enjoyable way. Book your Napali coast boat tours today!

The Ultimate Guide to Napali Coast Whale Watching Tour
Article Name
The Ultimate Guide to Napali Coast Whale Watching Tour
Whale watching is a popular winter activity in Kauai and many tourists specifically flock to the island to witness the majestic mammals.
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Makana Charters
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