There are many ways to see dolphins on Maui. Find the best Dolphin Trip for your group by narrowing down the options using one of our tools. Try clicking on the map, answering one of the questions, or browse through the list of all the Dolphin Excursions that we offer on Maui in the yellow box below.
|Dolphin Excursions on Maui|
|Capt. Steve's Rafting - 30' and 38' RAIV|
|Hawaii Ocean Project - Family sized boats|
|Hawaii Ocean Rafting - 30' Hard Bottom Inflatable Raft|
|Maui Adventure Cruises - 48' Explorer Class Raft|
|Maui Magic - 54 Foot Power Catamaran|
|Ocean Riders - 48' Explorer Class Raft|
|Pacific Whale Foundation - Lanai - Catamarans|
|Paragon Sailing Charters - 47' Sailing Catamaran|
|Trilogy Excursions - Catamaran Fleet|
|Ultimate Rafting Maui - 30' Aluminum Hulled Inflatable|
Maui Dolphin Watching Excursions
(unfortunately...swimming with the dolphins on Maui occurs only very rarely).
Dolphins on Maui win the award for being the most popular marine mammal. Everyone loves Dolphins!
|Information Related to Dolphin Excursions on Maui|
|Will You be able to Swim with the Dolphins on Maui?|
The life cycle of dolphins is similar to that of other cetaceans. As mammals, dolphins bear live young and the mothers nurse them on milk and provide care. A dolphin calf is born tail-first with eyes open, senses alert and enough muscular coordination to follow its mother immediately. At birth, the mother helps her calf to the surface to get its first breath. While nursing lasts between one and a half to two years, the mother will remain with her calf for a period between three and eight years. There is some variation in the age at which sexual maturity is reached, the reproduction rate and the life expectancy among the different species of dolphins. Most species tend to bear one calf every other year or so during their reproductively active years and are believed to have an average life expectancy of about thirty years.
The two most popular species of dolphins located in Maui waters are the Spinner dolphins and the Bottlenose dolphins:
Spinner dolphins are the smallest of Maui's common dolphins. Dolphins are generally between five and six feet in length and weigh 130 to 200 pounds. Hawaii has its own subspecies that is easy to recognize by its distinctive "three-tone" color pattern which consists of a sharply defined dark gray "cape" on their backs, a stripe of lighter gray on their sides and a white or pink belly. This species gets its name from its spectacular habit of leaping high into the air and spinning several times on their tails before falling back into the water. Researchers are not sure why the dolphins spin, but most people who have had the opportunity to watch the dolphins don't seem to mind, and find it a real treat.
The Bottlenose Dolphins are not seen as frequently but there are lots of them out there. They usually travel in smaller pods and are much larger dolphins. They are usually well over six feet in length and weigh in excess of 400 pounds
Around Maui, dolphins congregate at night in large herds in the deep channels between the islands to feed. During the day, dolphins break up into smaller groups and come near shore to rest and play. A few of the places where dolphins can commonly be seen on Maui are along the southern boundaries of Maui especially the La Perouse Bay and Kanaio area and off the coastline of Lanai.
As anyone who has had the opportunity to watch dolphins perform in a show can attest, dolphins have an impressive ability to learn and imitate behaviors, often for what appears the sheer pleasure of doing so. This observation, together with their large brain size, has led to numerous studies of dolphin intelligence. Dolphins' brains are about the size of our own. Unlike Maui's famous humpback whales, dolphins are year-round residents of Maui and can be seen swimming off all the Hawaiian islands during virtually every month of the year.
Tom's Tips - Maui Dolphin Watching Swims
Though dolphins are regularly seen swimming in Maui there is never any guarantee you'll find dolphins swimming during any particular excursion, but your chances can be increased by joining one of the many dolphin tours that sets out to watch and discover the secrets of Maui's dolphin population.
During the busy seasons many of these dolphin tours can fill up fast so try to make your dolphin tour reservations early.
Don't set your hopes too high on actually swimming with the dolphins on Maui. The best places for actually getting into the water and swimming with the dolphins are off the Kona Coast of the Big Island and off the Waianae Coast of Oahu.
Don't turn away a fresh Mahi Mahi (often referred to as Maui Maui Dolphin) thinking it is a dolphin. Mahi is one of the most delicious fish to be found in Hawaiian waters and is in no way related to the dolphins.
Do you want to have an encounter with dolphins on this vacation? Unfortunately, there are no trips that guarantee dolphin sightings in the wild. However, there are some trips that we recommend to try and see dolphins because they have encounters on a regular basis. One of these trips is with Captain Steves Rafting. Captain Steves is a small family operation that departs the Mala boat ramp in Lahaina for the island of Lanai aboard their zodiac style speedboats. The waters surrounding the island of Lanai are an area that is known for its resident dolphins. Dolphins, unlike whales do not migrate across the oceans. They are more territorial and tend to reside in the same areas year round. In my experience I've encountered dolphins on about eight out of ten of the Lanai trips I've been on. The really exciting part about encountering dolphins in the wild is that they travel in groups called "pods". These "pods" consist of large amounts of dolphins frequently reaching numbers of over a hundred and are quite a spectacle to witness first hand.
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If you're looking to see dolphins there is no better place to do so then in the waters that surround the island of Lanai. Hawaii Ocean Project offers tours that depart from the Lahaina Harbor that visit the coast of Lanai. Snorkeling, breakfast & lunch are all included and they normally offer children's specials that make their trip a very economical option for families or groups traveling with children.
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If you're looking for excitement and adventure on "the raft tour of your vacation", you'll probably be very happy with Mark Robinson's "Hawaii Ocean Rafting". Mark has had over thirty years of experience perfecting his trade here on the island and his full and half-day Lanai adventures make use of all his nautical knowledge. You will see Lanai's beautiful coastline and secluded sea coves, endless beaches, shipwrecks, sea cliffs and pinnacles. Whale watching is also very big during the winter months. Year round dolphin sightings are common, and when the sightings occur they are regularly in upwards of a hundred at a time. These hard-bottom inflatable rafts are also available for private charters and make a good call for small parties of ten to fourteen passengers that are looking for an exciting ride.
(From: $64.90 - To: $97.99)
Maui Adventure Cruises offers snorkel tours to Lanai with or without a landing on the island on Explore Super Rafts with a restroom on board. Maui Adventure Cruises is known for its very fast and large sized rafts. If you take advantage of the landing on the island you will be treated to a stop at Manele Harbor to go for a short walk to explore the underwater marine reserve of Hulopo'e Bay. This area is known for its variety of marine life and dolphin sightings occur here frequently. Lanai is home to some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii, the lack of development has kept the reefs surrounding Lanai in pristine condition with abundant fish populations and large coral formations.
(From: $92.90 - To: $129.90)
The "Maui Magic" goes way beyond Molokini to the exotic Kanaio Coast which generally offers an extended look at the Spinner Dolphins and the Hawaii Green Sea Turtles. Molokini is generally visited after Kanaio and at a time when there is usually less boat traffic at the crater. This boat gets really high marks for excitement but it should be noted that it can get slightly rough at times in route to Kanaio so we recommend that you be in good physical condition for this great adventure.
(From: $108.90 - To: $108.90)
For those that are looking to visit as much of Lanai as possible without actually going on the island and touring the city should look into Ocean Riders. Ocean Riders is a rafting company that offers trips departing from Lahaina Harbor that circumnavigate the island of Lanai. They stop at a variety of spots to go snorkeling. Ocean Riders uses thirty-foot RAIV boats that are powered by powerful twin two hundred and fifty horsepower outboard motors.
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The Pacific Whale Foundation offers a variety of trips that regularly spot dolphins. Dolphins unlike the whales do not migrate and are found in the waters of Hawaii year round. They normally travel in large groups called "pods" that can contain as many as two hundred dolphins. The Pacific Whale Foundation offers snorkel trips aboard their large power catamarans that journey over to the island of Lanai and they have a smaller catamaran just for sightseeing and spotting dolphins. Lanai is known locally to be one of the best places to go to see the dolphins and Pacific Whale Foundation runs into them about eighty percent of the time they go there. The Pacific Whale Foundation is known for their commitment to marine conservation and raising people's awareness levels. You will find marine naturalists onboard their trips that are available to offer narration and answer questions throughout.
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Paragon Sailing Charters offers trips to Lanai aboard their forty seven foot luxury catamaran. These trips are designed to be comfortable with the catamarans wide deck and spacious cabin providing plenty of room for the passengers to stretch out. In addition to having an great deal of deck space to begin with the management of the Paragon limits the capacity of the Lanai trip to twenty four even though they are certified by the coastguard for almost twice that amount.
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The dolphins on Lanai are something that the Coon brothers of Trilogy Charters have known about for years. They started their company over thirty years ago to take guests to the island of Lanai to go snorkeling, exploring and to see the dolphins that are very abundant here. They start out in Lahaina where they depart on one of their luxury sailing catamarans to go to the island of Lanai. On the way there they will cruise along the coastline and look for spinner dolphins that are frequently spotted. The dolphins like to approach boats and ride the wave that is created from the hulls pushing through the water. They land at the Manele Harbor and have a variety of different activity options from this point. You can go on land or snorkeling tours or choose form a variety of beach activities. Trilogy has been in operation for decades and they have constructed pavilions and erected hammocks near the harbor and beach. Lifeguard are on duty to ensure the safety of the guests.
(From: $107.10 - To: $179.10)
Ultimate Rafting offers a very exciting trip to go snorkeling off of the island of Lanai onboard their thirty-foot aluminum hulled raft with an inflatable surround. The engines on this boat are enormous, cranking out four hundred horsepower that will get you there quick. Dolphins are commonly seen year round and the humpback whales are commonly seen during whale season which lasts form early December to early May. These trips are suitable for beginner through advanced snorkelers.
(From: $129.90 - To: $129.90)
Dolphin Watching Excursions in Maui - It’s always been a source of interest to me that when speaking to a client about tours or activities that when I mention the word “Dolphins” their eyes light up and suddenly I have their absolute and undivided attention. Perhaps no other sea creature evokes the sheer excitement, joy and playfulness in ourselves as the dolphin. Seeing dozens of spinner dolphins racing alongside the vessel your on and jumping high out of the water and flipping back into the sea just can’t help but bring the child out in you. Maui has many dolphins to see and many different tours to see them on, but remember that actually seeing them on any specific trip is not a given. During whale season we can all but guarantee that you will see a whale but the dolphins are a bit more elusive. The best we can do is take you to an area that they are known to frequent such as the coast off the island of Lanai or the backside of Maui near La Peruse or Kanaio. Generally we will see them in these areas but just keep in mind that there are no guarantees. When you do see them however, then it is a guarantee that this will be a highlight moment of your trip to Maui.