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

When is the Best Time to See Hawaii Marine Life?

a small boat in a body of water

One of the most exciting parts of a Hawaiian getaway is seeing all of the beautiful wildlife around the islands. Colorful birds roost in the trees and you can find various animals in the forests. However, the island of Kauai is home to some incredible marine life.

Tropical fish, dolphins, humpback whales, and more can be found in the waters around Kauai throughout the year. But there are certain times of the year that you’re more likely to encounter some of these beautiful creatures. We’ve rounded up our list of favorite marine wildlife around Kauai and the best times of year to see them.

When To Whale Go Watching

Whales are an important part of Kauai’s history. Humpback whales are believed to be the embodiment of Kanaloa, who was the god of the oceans. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see one too!

People have spotted the Hawaiian humpback whale around Kauai starting in December and as late as April. The best time to see these majestic creatures is December through March. Waking up early will be key for watching the humpback whales breach the surface of the water.

The best way to see the whales is on a catamaran whale tour around the south shore. On a catamaran tour with Kauai Sea Tours, a guide will explain the history of whales around Kauai and take you to the perfect viewing areas.

When is the Best Time to See Sea Turtles

Who doesn’t love turtles? Sea turtles, called honu ( pronounced hoh-noo by Hawaiian locals), can be found all around Kauai throughout the year. From May through September, the sea turtles head to the beaches to lay their eggs.

We advise you to keep your distance from the sea turtles. No touching, feeding, riding, approaching, or handling sea turtles is allowed in Kauai. If caught mishandling, mistreating, or holding sea turtles in captivity, you can face fines up to $100,000 and even prison time. If you keep 10-20 feet away from them, you can enjoy these beautiful creatures without disturbing them.

See the Dolphins of Kauai

Dolphins are a beautiful creature that many people associate with Hawaii, and you can find different species of dolphins in Kauai. The two most common species of dolphins are spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

Spinner Dolphins

Spinner dolphins are a little smaller in size than bottlenose dolphins but more common to see around the island. You can find spinner dolphins swimming near Kauai year-round.

Bottlenose or Flipper Dolphins

Have you ever dreamed of seeing dolphins flip and spin over the surface of the water? Then you’re looking for bottlenose dolphins, also known as flipper dolphins for their acrobatics. Bottlenose dolphins can be found throughout the year around Kauai.

Monk Seals

Monk seals are rare to spot throughout Hawaii because they’re an endangered species. Less than 1,500 monk seals are alive today. However, monk seals are most often seen around Kauai if seen at all. Around May is the monk seal birthing season. But if you are trying to spot one, please respect that they’re an endangered species and give them 25+ feet of space.


If you’re worried about a shark attack on your Kauai vacation, you probably shouldn’t be. Shark sightings are rare and attacks by them are even rarer. However, they do swim in the waters around Kauai year-round.

Tropical Fish

Kauai is home to some of the world’s most beautiful tropical fish. These include the official Hawaiian state fish, named the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, and several species of Butterflyfish, including the Pennant Butterflyfish, Raccoon Butterflyfish, the Longnose Butterflyfish, the Milletseed Butterflyfish, and the Four Spot Butterflyfish. You may also spot the Bluestripe Snapper, Yellow Tang, Achilles Tang, Parrotfish, and the mysterious Black Triggerfish. There are so many stunning varieties of tropical fish for you to encounter on your vacation to Kauai.

For the best visibility, we recommend scuba diving or snorkeling during July and August. However, you can pretty much go scuba diving year-round and have a great time.

See Marine Wildlife with Kauai Sea Tours

With a history of ten consecutive TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards, Kauai Sea Tours has been providing award-winning tours since 1991. Our team is passionate about creating incredible adventures in paradise and we’re excited to explore the Napali Coast with you and your family. See dolphins, sea turtles, whales, and more about our tours.

  • Posted in: