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Dolphin Encounters on Lanai

There’s a place on Lāna‘i that anyone who wants to see a dolphin should know about.

No, it isn’t Hulopo‘e Bay (where dolphins are commonly sighted), but rather it’s little known Kamaiki Point on the island’s southern coast.

See Dolphins by Boat at Kamiki Point

There aren’t any roads to Kamaiki Point, and the only way for visitors to see it is motoring there by boat. Luckily the point is on the route between Lāna‘i and Maui, and any boat cruising between the two islands is likely to pass right by it.

Because of the relatively shallow waters, dolphins tend to gather here more than anywhere else off Lāna‘i, and if they aren’t exactly at Kamaiki Point then they’re somewhere in the immediate vicinity. Unlike the seasonal Humpback whales that migrate to Maui in winter, dolphins are year round Hawaiʻi residents who can sometimes be found in pods as large as 100 off Lāna‘i’s southern coast. Because the area is so rugged, however, the best way to encounter these spinner dolphins is to join in a snorkeling or diving tour that visits Lāna‘i from Maui.
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Witness Resting Dolphins in Hulopoe Bay

If you’re looking for dolphins while staying on Lāna‘i—but don’t want to get on a boat—the most common place to encounter dolphins is inside of Hulopoʻe Bay. Already popular for its colorful snorkeling and golden, palm-lined beach, the bay is also a favorite daytime resting spot of dolphins.

Because the dolphins are resting, however, swimmers are asked to keep a safe distance and not swim out to the pod. Instead they should stay about 50 yards away, and should the dolphins decide they want to mingle, they will then swim over and join the swimmers before venturing back out to sea. For guests of The Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i, text notifications are sometimes sent out to let you know dolphins are in the bay, though the intention is to view the dolphins from the pool area and not go swim out to join them.

Find Dolphins at Shark Fin Cove

It’s also possible to sometimes find dolphins on the cruise to Kaunolu Cove, which is also known as “Shark Fin Cove” on the island’s southwestern coast. Most of the boats that snorkel at Kaunolu depart from Lāhainā, in Maui, but if you have a group that’s large enough, Trilogy Excursions can arrange private snorkeling excursions from Lānaʻi.

dolphins between Lanai and Maui

Dolphins spotted between Lanai and Maui. Photo: Hawaii.com member Carrie U.

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