Whale Watching Cruises in Kauai, Hawaii: A Guide

Like all of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is an excellent place to whale watch, and there are several different whale watching cruises you can take from around the island. However, several of these companies don’t exclusively offer whale watching, and thus they can be slightly harder to track down. Moreover, directories of businesses on Kauai can’t be organized to only show the outfits that offer whale watching cruises, forcing you to look through more companies as you search for what you want. To help simplify your search, we have compiled the following guide to whale watching cruises, which focuses only on this activity.

Whale watching in Hawaii is largely centered on humpback whales, who spend most of the winter, from about December through May, off the coasts of the Hawaiian Islands. During the summer, they feed in Alaska, and then they migrate to warmer waters during the winter to reproduce. Hawaii is such an excellent place to whale watch because it is the humpback whales’ preferred place to spend the winter, and during this time about half of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population can be found in Hawaii. Humpback whales are therefore the prime focus of whale watching cruises in Kauai, and the companies that offer these cruises plan their season around their annual migration, but it is also possible to see other marine life. This includes other whale species, like pilot whales, as well as different forms of marine life, like dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds.

The companies that offer whale watching in one form or another are quite diverse. First, there are companies that offer standard whale watching cruises, which consist of a boat ride to sea that focuses on spotting whales. A few of these tours take place on rafts (zodiac boats), which means that there are fewer people per cruise, but others take place on normal ships. These normal whale watching cruises tend to be about two hours long. It is also possible to see whales while going sea kayaking, and there are at least a couple of companies in Kauai that specifically advertise whale watching kayaking trips. Since these can involve being shuttled to a suitable place to kayak, they can often be day-long activities. Finally, there are companies that combine whale watching with another sea-based activity, like snorkeling. Like the kayaking trips, these tours tend to be longer than normal whale watching cruises since two activities are combined in one sea outing. Below, we have broken our list of whale watching companies into these three categories. Each name in the list links to the company website, and when possible we link to the specific page dedicated to whale watching.

Standard whale watching cruises:
Blue Dolphin Charters
Captain Na Pali Adventures
Na Pali Explorer
Catamaran Kahanu
Kauai Sea Rider Adventures
Kauai Sea Tours

Whale watching combined with another activity:
Holoholo Kauai Boat Tours
Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures

Whale watching via kayak:
Kayak Kauai
Outfitters Kauai

This should be all, or close to all, of the companies that offer whale watching in Kauai. As you can see, there are quite a few options, so you should first figure out what kind of tour you want to take, and then you can start exploring specific options. For more general information, check out our article on whale watching cruises in Hawaii.

whale watching cruises

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