See Pods of Wild Dolphins

By Hawaii.com Team

dolphins on oahu

Dolphin Excursions, recommended by the Hawaii.com website, kept their promise. We had an amazing snorkeling trip. – Hawaii.com member Karen S.


There is something spellbinding about squinting into a Pacific morning sun and spying a pod of wild dolphins spinning like shiny toy tops out of a sun-polished sea. Seemingly carefree, these marine mammals may appear out of the blue and put on a show for you.

Spinner dolphins, the most frequently observed species, are gregarious by nature. They were named for their habit of leaping above the surface of the water and swirling like glistening silver-clad Olympians on a private stage. Scientists can’t explain why spinners spin. It could be a method of communication or a way to get rid of parasites. Or maybe these friendly creatures, appearing to wear perpetual smiles, just like to have fun.

Hawaii is home to more than 10 species of dolphin. The Pacific bottlenose, featured at many marine parks, reach about 10 feet in length. Their rounded foreheads and amicable expressions easily identify them.

Spinner dolphins can be seen almost daily along the south shore of Lanai. They commonly travel in pods of 50 to 150 individuals and feed at night, foraging in deep ocean channels and resting during the day in sheltered bays along the coast. Resting pods are often visible during daylight hours and should not be disturbed.

Any boat tour in waters off Maui, Molokai and Lanai offers the opportunity for spotting dolphins, but the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Lanai Wild Dolphin Eco-Adventure throws years of dolphin research into its tour package. Experienced marine research naturalists from the Pacific Whale Foundation accompany passengers on daily dolphin sighting tours along the Lanai coast. The focus of the tour is a bay where researchers have documented the behaviors and social interactions of a group of approximately 200 spinner dolphins. The tours, aboard a 50-foot smooth-riding catamaran, depart each morning from Lahaina Harbor.

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