Welcome to our guide about the best whale watching experiences in Oahu! If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii between November and May, you won’t want to miss the chance to witness some of the most incredible marine life on the planet. Every winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Hawaiian Islands to mate, give birth, and nurse their young. Join us as we explore the top spots and tours to witness these magnificent creatures up close in their natural habitat.
The 14 Best Whale Watching in Oahu
- Oahu Star Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise
- Oahu Catamaran Cruise Wildlife Snorkeling and Hawaiian Buffet
- Oahu Casual Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise
- Waikiki Sunset Cruise
- Waianae Coast Snorkel Cruise With Dolphin and Seasonal Whale Watching from Oahu
- Waikiki Turtle Snorkel Adventure
- Free Swim With Sharks Cage Free
- Moana Sunset Sail
- Leeward Coast Dolphin and Snorkel Half Day Cruise
- Pelagic Shark Dive Tour
- Full Day Oahu Circle Island Tour for One Person Snorkeling Included
- Morning Boat Cruise
- Sunset Cruise
- Dolphin Snorkel Excursions Hawaii
The 14 Best Whale Watching in Oahu
1. Oahu Star Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise
Join this 2-hour Oahu Star Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise off the coast of Oahu and experience a night to remember. Feast on a sumptuous 3-course crab and steak dinner, accompanied by a Signature Mai Tai, coffee, and tea while being entertained by the largest cast in Hawaii’s waters. Watch the stunning sunset and enjoy a live Hawaiian entertainment show called ’60 Years of Aloha’ featuring hula dances, songs, and music. Savor the scenic views over the Oahu coast as you sail back to shore. Meeting point is at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Gratuity is optional and other beverages are available for purchase. Book your tickets in advance and make your vacation a memorable one with this amazing tour experience.
2. Oahu Catamaran Cruise Wildlife Snorkeling and Hawaiian Buffet
Sail down Oahu’s western coast on a catamaran during this exciting cruise from Ko Olina. The unspoiled waters on this side of the island offer the perfect setting to search for dolphins and whales. Enjoy an informative commentary from the knowledgeable captain and crew before dipping into a hidden local spot rich with marine life for some snorkeling. After your aquatic adventure, indulge in a Hawaiian buffet complete with a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. High-quality gear, snorkeling instruction, onboard shower and changing facilities are included in the tour. Choose from three daily departure times for your convenience. Roundtrip transportation is also available for $35.00 per person from select Wa. This tour is perfect for adventurous travelers who appreciate the serenity of snorkeling in Western Oahu.
3. Oahu Casual Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise
Experience a romantic and unforgettable sunset dinner and show cruise off the coast of Oahu during this 2-hour tour. Marvel at the stunning views of Diamond Head and Oahu’s coastline as the sun sets towards the horizon, reflecting its vibrant colors on the surroundings. Start your evening with a welcome “champagne” toast plus two premium drinks of your choice. Savor a delicious 5-course meal which includes an imported & domestic cheese starter with fresh seasonal tropical fruits, a Hawaiian greens salad, and a mouthwatering main dish of a 1lb+ Whole Nova Scotia Maine Lobster and Tenderloin of Beef, followed by a decadent Hawaiian Mango Mousse Cake with white chocolate garnish for dessert.
During the cruise, enjoy world-class entertainment on board the largest cast on Oahu’s waters. Delight in the new ’60 Years of Aloha’ cultural show, accompanied by live jazz music. This is a perfect opportunity for you and your loved one to enjoy an intimate and romantic evening while experiencing some of the best views Oahu has to offer.
Don’t miss this chance for a breathtaking sunset experience that combines premium drinks, a gourmet meal, and live entertainment. Book your Oahu Casual Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise today!
4. Waikiki Sunset Cruise
View the Hawaiian sunset from the deck of a luxury catamaran during this 1.5-hour cruise from Oahu. Glide along the coastline from Waikiki towards Diamond Head while enjoying the vibrant colors of the island sunset appetizers two alcoholic drinks and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. This 53-foot power catamaran has plenty of seating and offers both shaded and sunbathing areas for your comfort. Your ticket includes a pupu platter and two complimentary bar drinks as well as unlimited nonalcoholic drinks. Beer is also available for purchase at a discounted rate. Hotel pickup and drop-off, as well as gratuities, are included. The meeting point is at 1125 Ala Moana Blvd Honolulu HI 96814 USA, Honu Olani is at Slip F28. This activity ends back at the meeting point.
5. Waianae Coast Snorkel Cruise With Dolphin and Seasonal Whale Watching from Oahu
Cruise along the idyllic Waianae Coast on this snorkel tour with dolphin and seasonal whale watching from Oahu. Accompanied by a crew of certified naturalists and marine biologists, you will be taken on a comfortable 32-foot boat where adventurous sightseers can encounter spinner dolphins and other marine animals that inhabit the area. Snorkeling gear is provided for you to swim with colorful tropical fish, and sea turtles. Be sure to bring your own refreshments or purchase from Spinners Cafe with a 10% discount. This small-group tour only allows 15 passengers, guaranteeing unobstructed views. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the majestic humpback whales (seasonal – January to March) in their natural habitat. Wet suits are also available to rent if required. Gratuities are included. Come and soak up the scenic beauty as you experience the most spectacular snorkel cruise along the Waianae Coast on this unforgettable excursion.
6. Waikiki Turtle Snorkel Adventure
Discover the vibrant underwater world of Turtle Canyon’s reefs on a family-friendly catamaran tour. With snorkeling gear and guidance provided, you will have the chance to spot sea turtles, octopuses, starfish and other sea creatures, while admiring the stunning underwater scenery. Choose between morning and afternoon tour times to fit your schedule, and enjoy the comfort of onboard restrooms, cushioned seating, and the assistance of an on-board lifeguard. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the beautiful marine life of Waikiki’s shores!
The meeting point is at Kewalo Basin Harbor, located at 1125 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814. The Moana Catamaran is located on the south end of Kewalo Harbor at slip D 108. Snorkeling equipment is included in the tour, along with two restrooms on board. Alcoholic beverages and gratuities are not included.
7. Free Swim With Sharks Cage Free
Experience the thrill of swimming with sharks cage-free on this unique ocean adventure on the North Shore of O’ahu. Spend approximately half an hour in the water with these majestic creatures while in safe hands with a guide on board and a safety diver swimming with each group. This small-group experience provides the opportunity for an intimate encounter with the sharks living in the area. All snorkeling equipment is provided, so there’s no need to visit a dive shop beforehand. With multiple sessions available daily, this experience can be tailored to work with your schedule. The meeting point is easy to find at the Boat Harbor on the Haleiwa waterfront. Live commentary is provided on board, and participants are advised to come ready to swim in their swimsuit and apply sunscreen prior to boarding to limit excessive scents/oils in the water. Don’t forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes in your vehicle. Book now for an unforgettable experience swimming with sharks cage-free on O’ahu.
8. Moana Sunset Sail
Experience the beauty of Hawaii’s famous sunset on a catamaran cruise along Waikiki’s coast. With an experienced captain and crew, watch as the sun dips below the horizon, changing the colors of the sky. Keep an eye out for dolphins and, from November to May, humpback whales. Capture photos of the stunning Waikiki landmarks, including Diamond Head, from a unique perspective. The excursion includes restroom facilities on board, alcoholic beverages, and gratuities. A central meeting point at Kewalo Basin Harbor makes for an easy start, with the Moana Catamaran located at slip D 108 on the south end of the harbor. Boarding begins 15 minutes prior to departure time, so arrive 30 minutes early for the best parking located on the north, east, and south ends of the harbor. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the beauty of Hawaii’s sunset on the water.
9. Leeward Coast Dolphin and Snorkel Half Day Cruise
Sail along the beautiful Leeward Coast of Oahu on this morning half day cruise. On this family-friendly adventure, enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters to see the fascinating sea life, such as fish and other underwater species. With expert guidance, watch for spinner dolphins, whales, and other marine creatures in their natural habitat. This catamaran cruise completes with a free continental breakfast and a deli lunch, along with two alcoholic drinks per adult included. Don’t miss this exciting excursion that guarantees dolphin sightings and offers spectacular scenery of the southwestern coast of the island. Pickup is available, or you can head directly to the meeting point at 850491 Farrington Hwy, Waianae Boat Harbor Dock C. Come and experience this unforgettable adventure!
10. Pelagic Shark Dive Tour
Set sail on an unforgettable adventure to swim and snorkel with a variety of native sharks on the Pelagic Shark Dive Tour, located on Oahu’s North Shore. With the original shark boat crew, you’ll learn skills passed down through generations to interact responsibly and safely with sharks and other marine life. Keep an eye out for White Tipped Reef Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, Gray Reef Sharks, and Sandbar Sharks. Along the way, your knowledgeable guide will share insight into the local culture of respect for native animals and the natural environment. In addition to shark encounters, you might also be lucky enough to spot dolphins and humpback whales during the winter months. This tour includes live commentary, use of snorkeling equipment, and the opportunity to come dressed and ready to get in the water with a swimsuit. Remember to apply sunscreen before boarding to limit excessive scents/oils in the water and bring a towel and a change of clothes in your vehicle. Join now and experience a one-of-a-kind adventure swimming with sharks in the open waters of Oahu’s North Shore!
11. Full Day Oahu Circle Island Tour for One Person Snorkeling Included
Looking for a way to experience the best of Oahu without having to worry about transportation? Join this circle island tour that includes hotel pick-up and drop-off in Waikiki. Enjoy the sights of the island’s famous landmarks such as Diamond Head Lighthouse and the Halona Blowhole all while learning about the island’s fascinating history and culture. After visiting the most popular locations, take a break and go snorkeling to see Hawaii’s famous marine life up close. The tour includes the use of snorkeling equipment, bottled water, soda/pop, lunch, and towels, so you only need to worry about enjoying your day. Book now and get ready for an unforgettable Oahu experience!
12. Morning Boat Cruise
Experience the beauty of Hawaii’s South Shore with this daily Morning Boat Cruise tour. Depart from the Kewalo Basin Harbor and head toward Lē’ahi while enjoying the clear view of the Pacific Ocean floor on the glass-bottom boat. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, eels, reef sharks, dolphins, and more from the convenience of the deck through the glass bottom boat viewports. Take in the breathtaking views of the underwater world without getting wet. With the freedom to bring your own beverages, including alcohol, enjoy a unique perspective of Honolulu above and below the surface. The tour includes a boat tour, glass-bottom boat, guide, bottled water, and additional drinks. Don’t miss the chance to watch sea turtles, dolphins, and live tropical reefs on this unforgettable boat tour.
13. Sunset Cruise
Experience the beauty of Oahu’s south shore on a sunset cruise as you sail towards the volcanic tuff cone of Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) while enjoying an amazing sunset. Relax in comfort aboard a catamaran and get magnificent views of the city skyline. The tour includes a boat cruise, a bottle of water, hotel pickup and drop-off, and drinks.
14. Dolphin Snorkel Excursions Hawaii
Embark on an exciting adventure with this dolphin snorkel excursion in Hawaii. Enjoy a wildlife-watching cruise through the turquoise waters of Oahu in search of wild dolphins and whales. With one of the most experienced teams in Hawaii, learn about each species and get up close to the playful dolphins. Have the opportunity to snorkel in the best spots and swim with sea turtles and colorful fish at the vibrant reefs. The tour includes sanitized snorkel equipment, a guide, free parking, and food and drinks. Optional GoPro rentals are available for photography needs, and wetsuits can be rented for an additional fee. Please note that this tour is not suitable for people with back problems, heart problems, respiratory issues, epilepsy, or a cold, and wheelchair users. Get ready for an unforgettable dolphin snorkel experience in Hawaii!
The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Whale Watching in Oahu
Whale watching in Oahu is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike. Seeing these majestic marine mammals up close is an unforgettable experience. However, planning a whale watching tour can be overwhelming, and many people have questions before they depart on their tour. We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about whale watching in Oahu to help you plan your perfect tour.
1. When is the best time to go whale watching in Oahu?
The peak whale watching season in Oahu is from December through May. During this time, humpback whales make their annual migration to the warm waters of Hawaii to mate and give birth. Although whales can be seen throughout the season, the best time to go whale watching is between January and March when the whales are most active.
2. What can I expect to see on a whale watching tour?
During a whale watching tour, you can expect to see humpback whales breaching, tail slapping, and blowing air from their blowholes. You may also see mothers nursing their calves, males competing for mates, and other behaviors. It’s important to remember that these are wild animals, and their behavior is unpredictable. It’s up to the captain to determine how close the boat can get to the whales while still respecting their space.
3. What should I wear on a whale watching tour?
It’s important to prepare for the possibility of getting wet on a whale watching tour. Dress in layers, wear a waterproof jacket, and bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Close-toed shoes with good traction are recommended, as the deck of the boat can be slippery. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture your memories!
4. What happens if we don’t see any whales on the tour?
While it’s rare to not see any whales on a tour, it can happen. Most whale watching tour companies offer a guarantee that you will see whales or they will offer a refund or free tour. Be sure to check with your tour company to see if they offer a guarantee.
5. Can young children go on whale watching tours?
Many whale watching tour companies allow young children on their tours. However, it’s important to remember that these are wild animals, and their behavior is unpredictable. Children should be able to follow instructions and be able to sit still for an extended amount of time. Some tour companies may have age restrictions, so be sure to check with the company before booking your tour.
6. Can I bring my own food and drinks on the tour?
Most whale watching tour companies provide snacks and drinks on their tours. However, it’s always a good idea to bring extra snacks and drinks in case you get hungry or thirsty. Be sure to check with the tour company to see what their policy is on bringing outside food and drinks.
7. How long does a whale watching tour typically last?
Whale watching tours can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the tour company and the weather conditions. Be sure to check with your tour company to see how long their tour typically lasts.
8. Do I need to make reservations for a whale watching tour?
It’s always a good idea to make reservations for a whale watching tour, especially during peak season. Many whale watching tours sell out quickly, and you don’t want to miss out on this unforgettable experience.
9. What is the cost of a whale watching tour?
The cost of a whale watching tour varies depending on the tour company and the length of the tour. On average, a 2-hour tour can cost anywhere from $60 to $100 per person. Be sure to shop around and compare prices to find the best deal.
10. Are there any regulations for whale watching in Oahu?
Yes, there are regulations in place to protect the whales and their habitat. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has established guidelines for commercial and recreational whale watching in Hawaii. These guidelines include staying a safe distance away from the whales, not feeding or disturbing the whales, and not approaching mothers with calves. Tour companies are required to follow these regulations, and the captain of the boat has the final say on how close the boat can get to the whales.
How to Do Whale Watching in Oahu
Oahu is a great location to spot humpback whales, especially between December and May. With so many whale watching tours available, it can be challenging to plan your trip. Whether you’re a seasoned whale watcher or a first-timer, this guide covers all the essential tips for an unforgettable whale watching experience in Oahu.
Step 1: Choose the Right Time
The best time to go whale watching in Oahu is between December and May when the humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii from Alaska. Keep in mind that this is a popular time for tourists, so book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Step 2: Choose the Right Whale Watching Tour
There are several whale watching tours available in Oahu, ranging from large boat tours to private charters. Consider factors such as group size, duration, and distance from the whales before making your decision.
Group tours are a popular option for whale watching in Oahu. These tours offer the chance to socialize and meet new people while enjoying the magical experience of watching whales in their natural habitat.
Private tours provide a more intimate whale watching experience and offer more flexibility to customize your trip. These tours are a great option for families or groups of friends who want to enjoy whale watching in their own exclusive setting.
Step 3: Dress Appropriately for the Weather
Oahu’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to layer clothing to ensure you are comfortable throughout the tour. Bring a waterproof jacket, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. Wear comfortable shoes, as the decks can be slippery.
Step 4: Listen to the Guide
Whale watching guides have invaluable knowledge about the whales and their behavior, so it’s essential to listen to their instructions. They know where to find the whales and how to approach them safely without causing any disturbance.
Step 5: Be Patient
Whale watching is a game of patience, and it may take some time to spot the whales. However, once you do, the experience is unforgettable. Keep an eye out for any signs of whales such as spouts, tail slaps, and breaches.
Step 6: Respect the Whales
Whale watching tours are regulated to ensure the safety of both the whales and humans. It’s essential to follow the rules and guidelines set by the tour operator and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Maintain a safe distance from the whales to avoid disturbing their natural behavior and habitat.
Step 7: Capture the Moment
Don’t forget to capture the moment by bringing a camera or smartphone with you. Consider bringing a polarizing filter to cut down on glare and reflections. However, be mindful that flash photography and drones are prohibited during whale watching tours.
The Best Places for Whale Watching in Oahu
1. Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail offers a scenic hike with stunning views of the ocean, making it an ideal location for spotting whales. Keep an eye on the ocean below and look for any tell-tale signs of whales.
2. Waianae Coast
The Waianae Coast is a favorite spot for whale watching tours due to its calm waters and abundance of marine life. The tours here offer the opportunity to see whales up close and personal while learning about their behavior and biology.
3. Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina Lagoons are a great spot for watching whales from the shore. Bring a pair of binoculars for the best views, and look for spouts and breaches in the distance.
Book Your Tour Now
Whale watching in Oahu is a magical experience that should not be missed. Follow these tips to ensure you have an unforgettable moment with these gentle giants. Remember, respect the whales and their habitat and always listen to your guide. With a bit of patience and some luck, you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
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