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Tip: A bird sanctuary island that is 3 miles off Maui's south shore.
Search for Playful Dolphins
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. Usually seen in small groups, they spend most of their time in the channels between the islands.
Spinner dolphins 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 groups are often visible during daylight hours and should not be disturbed.
Many local boating companies offer special dolphin tours. You will not only learn about dolphins and their habits, but learn to snorkel or SCUBA at the same time. Some companies even offer you the chance to participate in ongoing spinner dolphin research projects.
Rafting tours are also a great way to see dolphins. When carefully approached, the dolphins will actually swim over to the raft and hitch a ride on the bow wave. These smaller boats are less intrusive and allow for an up-close encounter.