Contrary to whales, on Kauai dolphins tend to appear throughout the year. This is where they basically reside. And since dolphins could easily be sighted, there are no particular “Dolphin watch only” tours, like in the case of whales.

Doesn’t matter whether you are on a snorkel tour to the Na Pali Coast, a fishing charter, a dive charter, a sunset sail, a dinner cruise, or any other seaborne activity, you are most likely to get a chance to see a glimpse of mesmerizing dolphins as well as other Kauai wildlife mainstays.

What type of Species of Dolphins are found on Kauai?

Pretty Dolphins are called “Nai’a” in Hawaiian. It refers to all kinds of dolphins that are located in Hawaiian waters. 

Only 4 kinds of dolphins are frequently located in the waters around Kauai. They are the Spinner Dolphin, the Spotted Dolphin, the Rough-toothed Dolphin, and the Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. All the other species of dolphins are said to just pass through the islands, and that too quite rarely.

Two of the most prominent dolphin species that are found in Kauai waters are the Spinner Dolphins and the Bottlenose Dolphins.

Spinner Dolphins

The aesthetic Spinner Dolphins are, without a doubt, the smallest of Kauai’s frequently seen dolphins. Generally, they weigh around 130 to 175 pounds and are between four to six feet in length. Kauai has its own subspecies, and you can quite comfortably identify this by its unique “3 tone” color pattern. The pattern contains a pink or white belly, a stripe of light grey on the sides, and a sharply defined dark grey “cape” on their backs. 

The names of these beautiful creatures are derived from their mysterious habit of jumping high into the air and spinning multiple times on their tails before diving right back into the water. Even though no one knows why dolphins do that, it’s still an incredible sight to witness. 

Near Kauai, these small dolphins meet at night in massive herds in the deep underwater drop-offs that encircle the island. During daytime; however, they tend to get separated into smaller groups and come near shore to frolic and to relax. These relatively small-but-aesthetic dolphins can quite easily be located on the coastline leading from Port Allen on the way to the Na Pali Coast at great delight to those opting to take day trips to visit the spectacular Na Pali Coastline.

Bottlenose Dolphin

The Bottlenose Dolphin is the second most commonly located dolphin species in the waters of Kauai. These kinds of dolphins are popular for their star performances at oceanariums and their playfulness around vessels. The Bottlenose Dolphins are arguably one of the most famous among all the cetacean species. Adults weigh around 650 to780 pounds and are seven to eleven feet in length. 

To verify a bottlenose dolphin, look for the signs such as a pink or white belly, light grey sides, and medium grey colored backs. The majority of the offshore animals are darker in color as compared to those that are easily located inshore. At times, they even seem to be less interested in swimming along with boats.

More than a thousand Bottlenose Dolphins are said to inhabit the waters around Kauai, typically living in groups of 2 to 15 dolphins. The majority of the groups are permanent residents of some specific harbors and coastlines, and therefore easily seen.