Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Captain's Blog

Kauai Spinner Dolphins – Fun Facts and What To Expect

facts about kauai spinner dolphins

Planning on a trip to Hawaii on your vacation? Why not go to Kauai to catch sight of spinner dolphins in their natural habitat? We guarantee an experience you’ll never forget!

Fondly known by locals as the “Garden Island”, Kauai is a lush tropical paradise teeming with many plant and animal life varieties. It also has some of the most stunning natural features in Hawaii, which certainly isn’t lacking in wondrous nature displays.

For all the wonders that it offers, Kauai is perhaps best known as an ideal place to see spinner dolphins in the wild. If the closest you’ve ever gotten to seeing dolphins was at a dolphin show or a glass tank, seeing them frolic and leap out of the clear blue waters of Kauai is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Kauai is actually a popular whale-watching spot as well. But you can only view these creatures from December to March, which begs the question: what do you do the rest of the year? The answer: watch spinner dolphins, of course! While you only have a short window of time to watch whales, you can pretty much see spinners throughout the year.

Fun Facts About Kauai Spinner Dolphins

What is it about spinner dolphins that make them such lovable and popular attractions? All dolphins are adorable, of course, but there are quite a few reasons why spinners are just a bit more special.

Why Do Spinner Dolphins Spin

Kauai’s spinner dolphins are known for their acrobatic displays, hence the name. They have a unique talent for leaping out of the water at high velocity and executing a variety of dizzying spins before splashing back down. They often perform these moves in pairs or groups, which makes the spectacle even more impressive.

The strongest dolphins can spin up to seven times while in mid-air. Some scientists think this is their way of communicating, while others believe that they do it simply for fun. Regardless of the reason, it is a stunning visual display that anyone lucky enough to witness won’t soon forget.

Distinguishing Characteristics Of Spinner Dolphins

Kauai is home to many other species of dolphins. So, how do you tell spinners apart from the rest?

Spinner dolphins are the smallest Kauai dolphins by far. They typically weigh from 130 to 179 pounds and grow four to six feet long.

There is also a particular subspecies of spinner dolphins found in the waters around Kauai. These are distinguishable by their “3-tone” coloring: a pink or white belly, light grey stripes on the sides, and a shiny dark grey cape covering their backs and dorsal fins.

The easiest way to identify spinner dolphins is by their snout. They have long, dark-tipped snouts that are thin for their size.

Habits And Behavior Of Spinner Dolphins

Spinner dolphins are nocturnal hunters that feed mainly on fish, shrimp, and squid. They follow their prey into the shallows at night as they feed on the abundant microscopic plant material.

When the sun rises, they revert to their playful attitude. Because they can keep part of their brain awake while at rest, they can continue to breathe in the water and keep watch for predators such as sharks and pilot whales.

Spinner dolphins typically travel in groups known as ‘schools’. Unlike other fish species, they don’t mind traveling with other dolphin varieties and even tunas and humpback whales.

What To Expect On A Spinner Dolphin Tour of Kauai

A guided dolphin-watching tour is by far the best way to see spinner dolphins in their natural habitat. During the day, they often gather in the shallow waters of the cove to socialize and care for their young. With most dolphin tours, you don’t have to head out very far to catch sight of these fascinating creatures.

Most spinners need no prodding to get them spinning and leaping out of the water. They will usually swim alongside your vessel and readily perform their tricks.

On rare occasions, you may not see any dolphins at all. Sometimes, even if you see spinners, they may not be in the mood to entertain visitors. But these situations are few and far between. Most times, you will be treated to the amazing spectacle of several spinners leaping and twisting out of the water in wild abandon.

Kauai Sea Tours offers excellent kauai boat tours with a high likelihood of seeing spinner dolphins at play. The company has trained and experienced personnel who know when and where spinners are most likely to appear. They also offer tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of the experience. So if seeing spinners on your visit to Kauai is your main priority, make sure to book a dolphin-watching excursion with Kauai Sea Tours!

  • Posted in: