The Big Island of Hawaii not only boasts of breathtaking beaches but also serves as a prominent spot for whale watching. Every year, visitors from all over the world flock to this tropical haven to witness the majestic marine mammals gracefully swim in their natural habitat. With several tour operators and stunning viewpoints, it could be hard to choose where to start. In this post, we’ll guide you through the best whale watching experiences on the Big Island of Hawaii. Get ready to witness these gentle giants and create everlasting memories.
The 15 Best Whale Watching in Big Island Of Hawaii
- Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tour
- Manta Ray Night Snorkel
- Dolphin Encounters and Reef Snorkeling Excursion
- Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure
- Snorkel With Manta Rays Guaranteed
- Kealakekua Snorkel and Sail Adventure
- Dolphin Swim and Captain Cook Snorkel Combo
- Captain Cook Express Afternoon Snorkeling Tour
- Deluxe Sail and Snorkel Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay
- Snorkel With Wildlife on the Kona Coast
- Afternoon Sail and Snorkel Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay
- Kona Snorkeling Beat the Crowd to Kealakekua Bay
- Afternoon Captain Cook Snorkel
- Big Island Atv Southside Tours
- Captain Cook Deluxe Am Snorkel
The 15 Best Whale Watching in Big Island Of Hawaii
1. Kealakekua Bay Snorkel Tour
Kealakekua Bay is one of the most historic and picturesque spots in Hawaii. It’s the site where Captain Cook was killed and the birthplace of the Hawaiian monarch King Kamehameha III. On this snorkeling tour from Kona, you’ll have the chance to explore this iconic location and immerse yourself in its beauty. During the trip, you can search for dolphins while admiring the volcanic coast, then after snorkeling among the vibrant coral and fish of the bay, enjoy a delicious lunch served on board. This tour also offers the chance to view Humpback whales in the winter months, and all snorkeling equipment is included. Please note, however, that the tour does not include hotel pickup and drop-off, and you will need to check-in at Honokohau Marina North Boat Ramp 74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy Kailua-Kona HI 96740.
2. Manta Ray Night Snorkel
Experience the magic of the sea in a unique and unforgettable way with this Manta Ray Night Snorkel tour. Board a small boat and set sail after dark to witness the beauty of wild manta rays in their natural habitat. Watch as they come out to feed on plankton and use a custom-made lightboard that attracts the rays. With up to 40 minutes in the warm waters, you can observe these amazing creatures up close and learn more about them with the help of your certified in-water guide. Unlike larger boats, the small boat offers a closer view without disturbing the rays, ensuring a safe and non-intrusive experience. All snorkeling equipment and wetsuits are provided, so you can simply relax and enjoy the experience. With a small group, you’ll receive personalized attention from your guide. Don’t miss this chance to explore the ocean at night and discover the majesty of manta rays. The tour includes use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuit, a certified in-water guide and lifeguard, and water. Gratuities are also included. The meeting point is located at 78-7138 Kaleiopapa St, Kailua-Kona HI 96740, near the Outrigger Hotel. Be sure to arrive on time and look for the “Hawaii Island and Ocean Tours & Kona Snorkel Tours” white van.
3. Dolphin Encounters and Reef Snorkeling Excursion
Explore the stunning waters off the Big Island with this amazing combo tour! Start your adventure by riding on a speedboat and witness the caves, cliffs, whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife along the coastline. With a limit of 14 persons per boat, enjoy a more personalized experience that allows you to savor each moment of excitement. Afterward, snorkel into the clear waters and discover the underwater paradise yourself. All the equipment needed is provided, and snacks and drinks are included for your refreshment. Meet at the designated spot – 78-7138 Kaleiopapa Street, Kailua-Kona HI 96740 – and come in 10 min. earlier before the set time. Park safely along the road and NOT in the restricted area. Don’t miss this great value combo experience of riding, wildlife watching, and snorkeling all in one tour!
4. Zodiac Raft and Snorkel Adventure
Splash into the crystal-clear waters of Kealakekua Bay on this Big Island snorkeling adventure! Explore the gorgeous Kona coastline in an agile Zodiac raft and snorkel among colorful tropical fish. Keep an eye out for other marine life like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Along the way, learn about the island’s geologic history and local legends from your expert guide and see the spot where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii. Get up close with spinner dolphins, green sea turtles, manta rays, and humpback whales if you’re lucky! Explore the geology of Hawaii through lava tubes and sea caves. The tour includes the rafting expedition, use of snorkel equipment, snacks and drinks, and hotel pick-up and drop-off.
5. Snorkel With Manta Rays Guaranteed
Embark on an evening adventure near Hawaii’s manta rays. Start with a sunset sail on a comfortable trimaran to ‘Manta Ray Village’. After a safety briefing, put on snorkel gear and spend an hour in the water using a lit-up flotation device to observe the manta rays feeding on plankton. Finally, warm up with hot chocolate and snacks onboard the boat while returning to shore. The tour includes wetsuits, masks, and snorkels, as well as a safety briefing and filtered water. Fins are not needed, and gratuities are not included. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to float on the water’s surface and witness the tropical ocean giants in their natural habitat.
6. Kealakekua Snorkel and Sail Adventure
Sail along the stunning Kona coast and embark on a half-day tour to Kealakekua Bay aboard a luxurious 50-foot catamaran. Enjoy spacious amenities that include shaded cabin and sunny splash nets. Start your adventure with a continental breakfast and then build your own sandwich after snorkeling (equipment and instruction included). Take in the picturesque Kona coast and keep an eye out for dolphins and seasonal whales. Make use of snorkel equipment and flotation noodles at Kealakekua Bay. All taxes, fees, and handling charges are included as well as non-alcoholic beverages, continental breakfast, and sandwich bar. Alcoholic beverages are available to purchase on board. Guests are asked to check-in at the meeting point, located at 75-5669 Ali’i Dr, 45 minutes prior to departure time. Hotel pickup and drop-off, lunch, and gratuities are also included. Come experience the beauty of the Kealakekua Snorkel and Sail Adventure.
7. Dolphin Swim and Captain Cook Snorkel Combo
Experience the thrill of swimming with dolphins in their natural environment on this combination dolphin and snorkeling adventure. Our naturalist guides ensure that we respect the ecosystem and do not disrupt the rest, nursing, and breeding behaviors of these amazing creatures. At night, spinner dolphins feed in deeper waters and come close to the Kona shore, where they often interact with boats playing in their wake. Depending on where and when we locate the dolphins, there may also be time for a quick snorkel at one of the many beautiful reef areas along the Kona coastline, possibly even at Kealakekua Bay. Lunch, snacks, and beverages are included, along with mask, fins, snorkel, and flotation aids. Please bring a towel, cover-up, and easy-to-remove shoes, and use reef-safe sunscreen only. Our knowledgeable guides prioritize the safety and well-being of the dolphins and ensure that you have the best experience possible. Gratuities for your crew are always appreciated.
8. Captain Cook Express Afternoon Snorkeling Tour
Explore the historic Kealakekua Bay on a thrilling Captain Cook Express Afternoon Snorkeling Tour along Hawaii’s scenic Kona Coast. Admire stunning views of Kealakekua Bay from the water and enjoy the chance to spot dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. The experienced guides will take you to remote sea caves and coves around the bay and provide snorkeling gear and instructions for a fun and safe snorkeling experience amid colorful marine life. The tour includes snacks, water, juice, towels, sunscreen, and even swimsuits, so all you need to bring is your sense of adventure! Check in at the office in Keauhou Bay and get ready for a two-hour journey that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
9. Deluxe Sail and Snorkel Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay
This half-day boat cruise offers the chance to snorkel around Captain Cook’s monument and Red Hill’s underwater lava formations, two of the best snorkeling sites in Kealakekua Bay. Along the way, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Kona coastline. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided, as well as all necessary snorkeling gear and identification charts to help you spot fish and dolphins. Alcoholic beverages are available on board for purchase with a credit card, but gratuities are not included. Reef-safe sunscreen and flotation noodles are also provided. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind snorkeling adventure!
10. Snorkel With Wildlife on the Kona Coast
Join a small-group snorkeling tour along the Kona coast of Big Island, Hawaii, in search of marine wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and whales. This “safari” style boat trip allows you to avoid the crowds while covering vast areas in search of the best spots to snorkel. Learn all about Hawaii’s marine wildlife and reefs from your guides, who will provide snorkeling equipment and snacks. Please bring your own towels, rash guards, and reef safe sunscreen (zinc only). The meeting point is at Honokohau Harbor north side bathrooms, and tours depart 15 minutes after the meeting time. Join us for a unique snorkeling experience on the Kona coast!
11. Afternoon Sail and Snorkel Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay
Set sail down the Kona coastline aboard a trimaran and arrive at the stunning Kealakekua Bay Marine Preserve for an afternoon of snorkeling. Explore the vibrant reef of the marine sanctuary and spot colorful schools of fish while surrounded by turquoise waters. The ancient lava flows around the Captain Cook Monument offer the perfect backdrop to admire Spinner dolphins that can commonly be sighted. This tour offers some of the best snorkel conditions in Hawaii with all equipment provided, including masks, fins, snorkels, and flotation noodles. To ensure safe snorkeling, reef-safe sunscreen is also provided. Please note that alcohol is available for purchase with a credit card, and gratuity is greatly appreciated. The meeting point is Keauhou Bay, Kaha. Please understand that full-face masks are not allowed on this tour due to safety concerns.
12. Kona Snorkeling Beat the Crowd to Kealakekua Bay
This snorkeling tour takes you to Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the best marine sanctuaries in the area. What sets this tour apart is that you’ll be traveling by Zodiac, allowing you to reach places that bigger boats can’t go. This means that you’ll beat the crowds and have more space to explore the underwater world filled with tropical fish. The tour includes snorkel masks, fins, and flotation devices, as well as turkey sandwiches and snacks like chips, cookies, soft drinks, and water. Reef-safe sunscreen is also provided. Hotel pickup and drop off are included, as well as gratuities. Meet at Captain Zodiac Snorkeling and Whale Watching tours located at 74-425 Kealakehe Parkway suite #16 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
13. Afternoon Captain Cook Snorkel
Explore the stunning coastal waters of Hawaii with a small-group snorkeling excursion from Kailua-Kona. Hop on board an inflatable boat and head towards Captain Cook’s Monument in Kealakekua Bay for an unforgettable snorkeling experience. Delight in the guided snorkeling activity where equipment is provided for your convenience. Depending on the season, you may even catch sight of dolphins and humpback whales. Take advantage of the snacks and beverages that are included in the price of your tour. In addition, revel in unobstructed views of the picturesque Kona coastline from the water and get a chance to marvel at various sea caves and lava tubes along the way. Listen to the historical narration of Captain Cook’s fate at Kealakekua Bay while on board. Don’t forget to bring a towel and cover-up and choose to use reef-safe sunscreen that is zinc based and free of oxybenzone and octinoxate in lotion form, not in spray form. Gratuity for your crew is always appreciated.
14. Big Island Atv Southside Tours
Experience the wild side of the Big Island on a Southside ATV tour. Traverse rugged ranchlands, craggy lava flows, and ancient forests all the way to the crashing cerulean sea, enjoying opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. No special skills are required for this adventure, and helmets, gloves, goggles, and ATV training are provided. The tour is limited to 10 travelers for a more personalized experience. Drive into Hawaii’s backcountry to see views well beyond what you could get from hiking or driving, experiencing the island’s south side where ancient Polynesians first landed. The tour includes top-of-the-line single or double ATVs, helmets, gloves, goggles, dust masks and bottled water. The meeting point is at Kaalualu Waiohinu Road, where you’ll be taken to the end of the road and then approximately 300 feet further to the first gate on the left (the address is 94-1400). Enter the gate and proceed to the tour start point.
15. Captain Cook Deluxe Am Snorkel
Explore the stunning Kealakekua Bay and its coral gardens on this snorkel tour that departs early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Look out for green sea turtles and spinner dolphins as you make your way to the Captain Cook Monument and Place of Refuge with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Along the Kona coast, you’ll also get to see sea caves and lava tubes. This tour includes a tropical lunch snacks and beverages to keep you energized throughout the day. All the necessary equipment is provided, including mask, fins, snorkel, and flotation aids. Don’t forget to bring a towel and cover-up and use reef safe sunscreen (zinc based is recommended- no oxybenzone and octinoxate. lotion no spray). The meeting point is at 787100 Kaleiopapa St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740, and the tour launches from the boat ramp dock at Keauhou Bay Kailua-Ko. Gratuities for the crew are always appreciated.
The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Whale Watching in Big Island of Hawaii
Whales are among the most fascinating creatures on earth and it’s no surprise that whale watching has become one of the most sought-after tourist activities in Hawaii. If you are planning to visit the Big Island of Hawaii and want to experience whale watching, you might have a few questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions about whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii:
1. When is the best time to go whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii?
The best time for whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii is between December and May. During this time, humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii to breed, calve, and nurse their young. It’s essential to note that humpback whales are protected by federal law, and there are specific regulations governing the observation of these whales. Every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issues guidelines to protect whales from human disturbance during their stay in Hawaii.
2. What types of whales can be seen in Big Island of Hawaii?
The most commonly sighted whales in Big Island of Hawaii are humpback whales, but there are other whale species that you might be able to spot, including pilot whales, false killer whales, and various species of beaked whales. Humpback whales are the largest of the whales and are renowned for their acrobatic displays, including breaching, tail slapping, and spy hopping.
3. Where are the best places to go whale watching on Big Island of Hawaii?
There are several places to go for whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii. However, some of the best locations include the Kohala Coast, Kailua Kona, and Hilo Bay. These locations have several tour operators offering whale watching tours with experienced guides who know the best times and places to go whale watching.
4. How do I choose a whale watching tour operator in Big Island of Hawaii?
While there are many tour operators offering whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii, it is essential to choose one with a good reputation and experience. A reputable operator will have experienced guides who can provide you with an unforgettable whale watching experience. Look for tour operators who offer eco-friendly tours and adhere to the regulations set by NOAA for the protection of the whales.
5. What should I wear during whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii?
Whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii are usually conducted in open boats, and it can get cold and windy offshore. So, it is essential to wear warm clothing and dress in layers. Bring a jacket or sweater, a hat, and sunscreen. Also, wear comfortable shoes with good grip to prevent slipping on the deck of the boat.
6. Can I take photos during whale watching tours?
Yes, you can take photos during whale watching tours, but it is essential to follow the guidelines set by NOAA. Never approach whales closer than 100 yards by boat or 300 yards by airplane or drone. Also, avoid abrupt movements or loud noises as they can disturb the whales.
7. Can I swim with whales during whale watching tours?
No, you cannot swim with whales during whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii. It is prohibited by law to approach humpback whales in the water, and violators can be fined.
8. What else can I see during whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii?
Aside from whales, you can also see other marine life during whale watching tours in Big Island of Hawaii. Some common sightings include dolphins, sea turtles, and seabirds. You might also see blacktip reef sharks, manta rays, and spinner dolphins if you are lucky.
How to do Whale Watching in Big Island of Hawaii?
There are many fantastic things to do in Hawaii, but one activity that you should not miss is whale watching. The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to see these majestic creatures up close. They migrate to these waters every year and provide spectacular shows for visitors. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii.
Step 1: Choose the right time of year
Whale watching season in Hawaii starts in mid-December and ends in mid-April. This is the time when Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska to breed and give birth. During these months, the chances of seeing whales increase dramatically. However, the best time to go whale watching is between January and March when the Humpback whale population peaks.
Step 2: Choose the right tour operator
Next, you need to select the right tour operator for your whale watching adventure. There are many tour operators available, but not all of them are equal. Choose a tour operator who has experience in this field and has excellent reviews from past customers. You can use review sites like Tripadvisor or Yelp to get an idea of the quality of the tour operator.
Step 3: Book Your Tour in Advance
Booking your whale watching tour in advance is essential to avoid disappointment. As this is a popular activity among tourists, spots can fill up fast, particularly during the peak season. Therefore, it’s best to book at least a month beforehand. You can book your tour either online or over the phone.
Step 4: What to Wear?
It’s essential to wear the right clothing while whale watching to ensure you are comfortable throughout the trip. Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers as it can get cold on the water, especially early in the morning. Also, wear shoes with good traction to avoid slipping.
Step 5: Arrival at the Dock
On the day of your tour, arrive at the dock at least 30 minutes before departure time. This is to allow time to park, check-in, and get aboard without any rush. If you’re prone to seasickness, remember to take some motion sickness tablets before boarding.
Step 6: Follow the Guide’s Instructions
During the whale watching tour, follow the guide’s instructions carefully. Stay seated and keep a respectable distance from the whales. Do not attempt to touch the whales or get too close to them. It’s essential to respect their space and to avoid disturbing them while they’re swimming.
Step 7: Keep Your Equipment Handy
Keep your camera and binoculars handy to get the best possible view of the whales. Most tour operators provide binoculars, but carrying your camera is always a good idea. Also, remember to keep the camera on the appropriate settings, such as Continuous shooting mode or Sports mode, to capture movement accurately.
Step 8: Enjoy the Experience
Finally, the most important step is to enjoy the experience. Watching these incredible creatures move through the water is an experience that you will never forget. Listen to their songs, watch their natural behaviors, and soak up the beautiful scenery that Hawaii offers.
Book Your Tour Now
Whale watching in Big Island of Hawaii is an experience of a lifetime. With the right preparation, you can have a safe and incredible experience watching these magnificent creatures. Remember to pick the right time of year and the right tour operator, dress appropriately, and keep your equipment handy. Above all, enjoy yourself and respect the whales for the amazing creatures they are.
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