Another winter is upon us in Hawaii, and with it the return of kohola, the humpback whales that come every year to breed, calve, and raise their young in warm waters.
If you’d like to learn more about humpback whales and their habitats in Hawaii, check out our introduction to Hawaii whale watching post, where you can learn when the humpbacks visit, how long they usually stay, different ways to watch the whales, and how to pick a whale watching tour.
If you’re looking for the top whale watching tours in Hawaii, you came to the right place! HawaiiActivities.com offers a variety of whale watching tours on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, and even on Kauai.
Go whale watching on Hawaii’s most popular cruise ship, the Star of Honolulu! This morning or afternoon cruise departs from Aloha Tower and roams the waters of Waikiki in search of visiting humpbacks. The cruise also includes other on-board activities such as ukulele lessons, lei making, and hula dancing.
Go on a noontime cruise with the Majestic to see whales. This ship features air-conditioned cabins with large viewing windows and an open-air top deck, so you can always get a good view of any whales that pop up! Includes a lunch buffet.
Hawaii Nautical offers two catamarans (one sailing, the other powered) in Waianae that go whale watching every year. As the west coast of Oahu is less crowded by commercial traffic, whales tend to congregate there in larger numbers, making it the ideal place to go watching. You’ll likely spot a local pod of spinner dolphins, too!
Hawaii Nautical’s catamaran in Waikiki also has its own whale watching cruise, departing from Kewalo Basin Harbor. Offering 360-degree views from a boat that sails in both the morning and the afternoon, this nearby whale watch is a great option for those staying in Waikiki.
This snorkeling cruise in Waianae lets you watch and swim in the clear waters of Oahu’s western coast. With luck, you’ll be able to see and get close to green sea turtles, spinner dolphins, and humpback whales on a single ocean tour.
Another west-coast whale watch, this small, maneuverable raft isn’t as comfortable as the larger vessels, but makes up for it by being able to better position itself to watch the whales. This whale watching tour is meant for the adventurers out there!
Whale watching isn’t as common on Kauai as the other islands, as the waters of the old Garden Isle aren’t as protected as those of Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. Whales still appear, however, and you can see them with Captain Andy’s rafting tour, which takes you along the southwestern coast of Kauai. The raft also includes a hydrophone, allowing you to hear the songs of the whales as you watch them from the boat.
Lahaina Whale Watch Cruise Morning & Afternoon Excursions
Maui is the best island for whale watching, as humpbacks love to play in the sheltered waters between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. This whale watching tour in Maui includes morning and afternoon cruise, with a special early bird rate!
Hokua Maui Whale Watch Eco-Friendly Afternoon Cruise (from Maalaea Harbor)
This jet-drive catamaran is the perfect vessel for whale watching, as it doesn’t use propellers which can be dangerous to whales. This eco-friendly tour also includes a hydrophone to hear the songs of the visiting humpback whales.
Afternoon Luxury Whale Watch Sail (from Maalaea Harbor)
Set sail on the Alii Nui, a luxury catamaran in Lahaina that offers appetizers, a full cash bar, hydrophone and on-board marine naturalist on an unforgettable whale watching tour in Maui!
Deluxe Whale Watching Cruises – Kaanapali, Lahaina & Maalaea Harbor Departures
Sail with Trilogy, one of the oldest family-owned sailing companies on Maui, to know you’ll be supporting local business and conservation. A portion of proceeds from Trilogy’s whale watching sails goes towards supporting marine conservation efforts on the Valley isle.
Kohala Coast Whale Watch Tours – Morning & Sunset Cruise
This whale watching cruise departing from Waikoloa or Kawaihae Harbor explores the Kohala Coast of the northeastern Big Island. Ride a smooth sailing or powered catamaran around the waters of the Big Island while looking for whales on a morning or afternoon tour.
Makai Powerboat Morning Whale Watching Cruise from Waikoloa – Whales Guaranteed!
Cruise around Waikoloa with Hawaii Nautical on this small powerboat that can quickly get you close to where the whales are. Hawaii Nautical’s whale watching tours come with a “whale watch guarantee,” meaning if you don’t see any whales, you’ll get a free second trip!
Body Glove Afternoon Whale Watch Cruise (from Kailua-Kona Pier)
Explore the waters of Kona on Body Glove’s comfortable 51-foot cruise vessel with a spacious sundeck that gives you a 360-degree view. There’s also a shaded cabin on board, restrooms, and a full service bar to make your whale watching tour comfortable and fun.
Captain Zodiac Ocean Rafting Kona Whale Watch Tour (from Honokohau Harbor)
Go whale watching on a zodiac motor raft, a quick and maneuverable vessel that can locate and get to the whales fast. It’s also a fast, fun ride for thrill-seekers and can explore the lava formations and sea caves that litter the Kona coast.
Hilo Whale Watch Cruise Cruise – Small Group Expedition
This 2-hour small group whale watching cruise takes place in Hilo, on the green and colorful East side of the Big Island. Explore the Hamakua Coast on a small boat, learning about the history and geography of the area while on the lookout for whales.
Ocean Encounters Kona Afternoon Whale Watch Cruise (from Honokohau Harbor)
Board a fishing boat to tour the Kona Coast in the afternoon with Ocean Encounters. This whale watching cruise includes soft drinks and appetizers, but also has a cooler on board so you can BYOB—just don’t bring any glass or bananas on board!