Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Whale watching in Hawaii, by land or by boat

Whale watching in Hawaii, by land or by boat

Recently, I went to my favorite beach on the East side of Kauai for some rejuvenating downtime. Sitting in my chair, my head tucked in a book, the ocean worked its magic and I started to relax. Suddenly, I was ripped from my reprieve, “Hey you! You wanna see some whales?”

Of course I did! I hustled closer to the shore and looked through my new friends binoculars. There, just before the horizon, whales were playing in the afternoon sun. Plumes of spray rising into the sky, their sleek dark bodies arching and ping. I even saw a whale tail!

Whale watching in Hawaii is a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike. If whale sightings interest you, plan your vacation during the months of November through April; peak season is during February and March. Choosing the right island is important too, as the best whale sightings occur on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. You can see whales on Oahu as well, but their numbers aren’t as great.

The best way to see a whale is from the water and there are a plethora of boat tours available on every island. Captains of these boats are seasoned and well versed in safety and regulations. Boats may not come within 100 yards of a whale but, whales may approach the boat. An experienced captain will know how to approach a whale in a nonthreatening manner, gently gliding to a stop and peaking the curious nature of the whale.

Whales have been known to make eye contact with folks on the boat. Everyone I know who has experienced this say it has deeply affected them. A common behavior for whales is to “spyhop.” A whale will rise vertically, eyes are just above the water, and spin to get a look at its surroundings. Wow!

If keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground sounds like a better idea to you, look for elevated ground like the Kilauea Lighthouse or Kealea Lookout in Kauai. Being on a beach, I didn’t have the advantage of height but with the aid of my friends trusty binoculars, I was able to see perfectly.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Jan 28, 2011