Whale Watching by Kayak on Kauai

November to early May is whale watching season in Hawaii. February – March is the peak.

I was excited to have a new iPhone 5s safely tucked into a new Lifeproof case, held by a Lifeproof armband to take out onto the water. I thought I might get a shot or two. The excitement had however, just begun. When we exited Kukui’ula Small Boat Harbor and headed out into the ocean, we almost immediately encountered a pod of whales, accompanied by some dolphins. It was a spectacular sight as they broke water in front of us. We made sure not to get too close, but we were close enough to hear them breathe.

It is illegal to approach a humpback whale in Hawaii within 100 yards, whether you are on a boat, swimming, windsurfing or kayaking.

We were riding in tandem (2-man) Hobie Mirage ocean going kayaks. To be exact it was Hobie Mirage Tandem Island model but without the outrigger ama floats attached. Island Pursuits also uses these for sail kayaking so that’s why they have them. There were 4 kayaks, including 2 staff from Island Pursuits. These kayaks feel very stable when you are accustomed to going out on a 1-man or even 6-man outrigger canoe. You have the option of paddling but these canoes are primarily moved with high tech peddles. The person in the rear steers. Ray was steering.

Ray Gordon holding Hobie kayak peddle

Ray Gordon holding Hobie kayak peddle at Kukui’ula Boat Harbor

This video is 1 minute 45 seconds long. I didn’t edit it so there is a bit of waiting in between surfacing but this way you can share my experience. You can hear us peddling and then stopping to make sure we didn’t get too close. You can definitely hear the whales breathing.

For those of you who are confused between an OC-1 (one-man outrigger canoe) and a kayak, here I am on an OC-1. You also get a good view of the Lifeproof armband and iPhone case set-up. I was happy to find the armband is quite comfortable and gives easy access to the phone.

Linda Sherman in her OC-1 (one man outrigger canoe) photo by Ray Gordon

Linda in her OC-1 (one man outrigger canoe)

Todd Barron and Andrew DalPorto had just arrived on Kauai and had a wonderful time. I was glad that I was able to get some photos and video of them for them. Great memories for them.

Todd and Andrew's first day on Kauai kayak whale watching

Todd and Andrew’s first day on Kauai

Turns out that our guide, Dan, from Life Pursuits has outfitted his entire family with Lifeproof cases. He’s a big fan. I forgot to ask him to take photos of Ray and I in our canoe. Of course, he was focused on getting shots of whales. Something to consider when you do something like this. Get a few shots of yourself as part of your memorabilia.

Dan with his Lifeproof case photo by Linda Sherman


Do you have a Lifeproof case? Do you realize that this year they are giving away a free case and accessory every week for the best photo taken of or from a Lifeproof case? Here are the details.


  1. says

    Hi Linda, 

    I absolutely love this video. I can’t imagine having the opportunity to get so close to those beautiful whales. Plus, you OC-1 looks like a water rocket. Thanks so much for sharing you amazing experience!  

    Best regards, 

    Terry Sullivan

  2. says

    I didn’t realize that you use “peddle-power” to drive your kayak. I thought you did all the heavy work with your paddles. It looks like the paddles “help” but don’t really “drive” you forward through the water. I’ve seen the one-person kayaks a lot here in Texas where you are completely enclosed from the waist down, and use use paddles in a very large way to maneuver around. Thanks again for the post, Linda. I sure enjoy reading your words…

  3. says

    terrysullivan  I updated the post with the exact model of the Hobie’s we were in. That particular boat goes for $5,600. The Hobie Outfitter or Oasis, which looks more like what we were in because they don’t have outrigger ama floats go for about $2,800. At these prices, these kayaks are rather upscale. Most kayaking on Kauai is indeed done with paddles and in kayaks that are a bit less upscale than these.

  4. says

    The OC-1 looks like a yellow rocket ship Linda. It’s got to be lots of fun to jump in and go. The health and visual impacts of the short trips you take are just breathtaking breathtaking and great for your physical and mental health. I just don’t think it would be the same as taking a Kayak trip in the Gulf of Mexico… :)

  5. says

    terrysullivan  Being able to be out in the Pacific ocean is certainly special. On Kauai we can also paddle in our rivers which can be serene and pretty. But nothing quite beats the rush of being out on the ocean. We are cognizant of safety though. A river run can be fine alone, but you should always have at least one buddy with you (even if they get a bit ahead or behind in their own OC-1) out on the ocean.


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