Regardless of which enterprise you pick for your whale watching excursion, your experience will be influenced by several variables: condition of seas, weather, and whale activity. Our choice of Kauai Sea Riders was primarily based on the credentials of Captain Tara being a marine biologist. We felt that having an experienced and knowledgeable captain/marine biologist leading our tour would guarantee not only a fun outing, but one was we could gain a greater appreciation for humbback whales.
Kauai (and all of us) is still looking for that blend of experience and knowledge.
Our party of four found some positives from our tour:
1) The zodiac was a blast to ride across the ocean. Rougher seas could change that, regardless of the type of watercraft.
2) Listening to the whales communicating was very interesting.
3) Seeing Spinner dolphins by the dozens perform just feet away from our speeding boat was a real treat. A sight to remember for a lifetime.
What we felt like were negatives:
1) Captain Tara, while very likeable and personable, did not live up to our high expectations of having the type of insight one would hope to have from a marine biologist. The lack of technological equipment to assist in the locating/tracking of whales surprised me. (Even guys in the midwest have fish finders on their bass boats.)
2) Knowing that whale sightings were not guaranteed, but having seen blow spouts in the near distance left me feeling a bit disappointed in not seeing any up close and personal. Everyone on the tour were "spotters". And perhaps my inability to spy blow spouts heightened my feeling of inadequacy. But that is also why I went on a tour. I saw just as much from the beach with binoculars, as I did from the boat.
In all honesty, the tour was worth the money. We were just hoping for a huge bargain, but got an expereince for what we had paid.
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