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Dolphin Sightings in Maui

Many visitors to Maui ask where the dolphins are and what is the best way to see them while visiting here.   We are very lucky on the Kai Kanani to frequently encounter dolphins on our snorkeling and sailing excursions. It’s always exciting when sailing along and suddenly a pod of dolphins appear surfing the bow of the Kai Kanani. There are several different species of dolphins that live in Hawaiian waters, but the most often seen are bottlenose and spinner as well as the less encountered spotted dolphins.

Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins as seen here are often seen in smaller pods of usually less than a dozen. They are larger than the spinners and spotted reaching lengths of up to 11 feet and weighing over 400 pounds.  Bottlenose are extremely intelligent and may come surf on our bow for a bit and have even been observed stealing fish from the lines of local fisherman.

dolphin maui

Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Hawaiian spinner dolphins are the dolphins we most frequently see and they love to ride the bow and wake of the Kai Kanani. These social animals are seen in pods of anywhere from a dozen to several hundred.  They are smaller dolphin reaching about 6 feet and 150 pounds.  We love to watch the acrobatics of the spinners as they leap into the air flipping their bodies and spinning up to seven times.   Spotted dolphins are mostly seen in the deeper channels outside the islands. They closely resemble the spinner dolphins but can be distinguished by the white tip on their rostrum.

A Rare Albino Spinner Dolphin

A Rare Albino Spinner Dolphin

All dolphins have countershading which helps them blend into the ocean from predators.  For example a spinner dolphin is dark grey on it’s back, light grey on the side and white on the belly.  If a predator were to see the dolphin looking down, its dark back would blend well with the deep of the ocean, while opposite goes for the belly which seen from the below would blend into the light sky.  Here we saw a rare albino spinner dolphin off La Perouse Bay in Maui.  It was always in the middle of it’s pod and was beautiful to see.

Dolphins prefer to feed at night in the deep waters and come into shore during the day to rest.  Out of respect for their home, we never approach them but rather allow their playful and curious personalities to grace us with their presence.

A Rare Albino Spinner Dolphin