Whale Watching Tours in Oahu (Marine Life Tours & Cruises), Oahu tours & activities, fun things to do in Oahu | HawaiiActivities.com
Other Interests
Marine Life Tours & Cruises

Whale Watching Tours in Oahu

3.88
See whales on the best whale watching Oahu tours this winter, and watch as the Pacific humpback whales rest and play after traveling from Alaska to Hawaii. December and April is whale watching Oahu season, and the ocean becomes the winter home for humpback whales and their calves that are born in the island's warm waters, and with whale watching cruises, boat rides, and sails departing from Waikiki, the North Shore, and west Oahu, there is a whale watching experience perfect for everyone.
Your Guide to Whale Watching in Oahu
Every winter approximately 10,000 to 12,000 humpback whales travel to Hawaii from Alaska to Hawaii during their mating and calving season, and from November to May, you will often see these massive marine mammals in the warm waters surrounding the islands of Hawaii.

Although the protected oceanic areas known as the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are mainly found between the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, the island of Oahu is also a popular destination for humpback whales, and they can be found off the shores of Waikiki, the North Shore, and both the east (windward) and west (leeward) side of the island.

Oahu whale watching tours are available for only a limited amount of time, and should not be missed by anyone on the island during the winter whale watching season.

More details can be found in our Hawaii Whale Watching Guide!

Learn About Humpback Whales
  • Humpback whales travel annually between Hawaii and Alaska to both give birth and raise their young in the warm waters off the islands of Hawaii. Once the calves have become bigger and stronger, the humpback whale pods return to Alaska for spring and summer.
  • Adult humpback whales do not eat while they are in Hawaii, and female humpback whales expend tons of energy feeding their calf during their Hawaiian visit.
  • Humpback whales spend most of their time underwater, but stay on and just below the ocean’s surface for approximately 15 minutes. If they are feeling energetic, you can sometimes see them jump or breach out of the water, and even slap their tails and fins on the water.
  • You will want to catch sight of humpback whales as quickly as possible once they surface since they can stay underwater for up to an hour with lungs as large as a small car.
  • Once a humpback whale calf is born, they gain around 100 lbs a day while their mothers nurse them, and marine biologists and ocean conservationists track the calve’s progress before they head back to Alaska.
  • While humpback whale calves grow exponentially while in Hawaii, adult humpback whales are quite the opposite. They will normally lose around 25% of their body weight during their stay in Hawaii, and need to return to Alaska to feed.
  • Many Oahu whale watching cruise boats come equipped with hydrophones which will allow you to hear the famous whale songs of the humpback whales. Male humpback whales all sing the same complex whale song throughout the season, and then pick-up the following season where the previous song left off.
  • While beautiful whale songs are special in their own way, scientists do not have a definitive reason as to why the humpback whales sing, but it is said that whales sing to communicate, locate food, and find each other.

What to Expect & Know Before You Go
  • Guests who are prone to motion sickness should plan on taking a motion sickness preventative at least one hour prior to departure.
  • Many of the top Oahu whale watching tours book up days or weeks in advance. Be sure to book whale watching tours as early as possible to ensure a spot on the boat.
  • Keep an eye out for the following humpback whale behaviors on Oahu: A spout of water from the blowhole which will look like a spray from the ocean’s surface, whale tails or fins coming up from the water, or an epic partial or full breech where they will propel themselves out of the water to belly flop onto the surface.
  • Be patient during your Oahu whale watching cruise, and keep your eye out for irregularities on the water. You will never know when humpback whales will make their presence known, and if the humpback whales do not make an appearance during your cruise, enjoy your time in Hawaii’s waters.
  • Federal laws require that all boats and persons stay at least 100 yards away from humpback whales at all times. Sometimes whales become curious and will swim to a boat, and the boats are required to turn off their engines and wait till the humpback whale moves away.
  • The best time for whale watching Oahu tours is often during the morning and afternoon since the ocean and winds are much calmer at this time. This is not to say that humpback whales cannot be seen during dusk and sunset, and depending on how active the calves are, they can be quite playful throughout the day.

Best Places for Whale Watching on Oahu
For the best whale watching on Oahu, book whale watching cruises in Waikiki, the west side of Oahu, and the North Shore. Each of the areas offers unique views and amazing opportunities to see Hawaii’s winter visitors.

  • Waikiki Whale Watching Tours: Cruises will depart from Waikiki Beach, Kewalo Basin, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, and Aloha Tower Marketplace.
  • West Side Oahu Whale Watching Tours: These tours take place along the Ko Olina and Waianae coastline, and depart from the Ko Olina Marina and Waianae Small Boat Harbor.
  • North Shore Whale Watching Tours: Taking place on Oahu’s famous North Shore, these whale watching cruises depart from the quaint Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor

Boat Types for Oahu Whale Watching Tours
There are a variety of different boats to choose from, and each offers a unique experience to see humpback whales on Oahu.

  • Large single hull, multi-level cruise liner-type mega boat that can accommodate hundreds of guests per cruise.
  • Moderately-sized catamarans that can both be under sail and cruise using an engine, and can accommodate around 30 to 50 passengers at a time.
  • Mono-hulled sailboats that can quickly skim the surface of the water, and will rarely use an engine and ensure a calm and quiet whale watching experience.
  • Speedy Zodiac and Radon style boats will keep you close to the ocean surface, and quickly get you in range of any spotted humpback whales.
  • Single or tandem kayaks are great for the athletic and the adventurous, and are also the most eco-friendly way of seeing Oahu humpback whales.


Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are whale sightings guaranteed on Oahu?
A: While there is a very high likelihood of seeing humpback whales during an Oahu whale watching cruise, there are no guarantees that you will see a whale on your tour. Some companies do offer “whale guarantees” and if whales are not seen, you can go back on the cruise or sail until you do see them.

Q: What is the best month for whale watching on Oahu?
A: Whale watching season is between November and April on Oahu, and December, January and February are the best months to see humpback whales in Hawaii.

Q: Which island is best for whale watching in Hawaii?
A: While the areas designated as the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are primarily located between the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, humpback whales can be seen off the coasts of Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai as well.

Q: Where is the best place for whale watching on Oahu?
A: The north and southeast shores of Oahu are a part of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, but humpback whales can also be found off the west or Waianae coast of Oahu.

Q: What time of day are Oahu humpback whales the most active?
A: Humpback whales in Hawaii are active throughout the day when they are in Hawaii, and while you can see them in the morning, afternoon, and early evening, ocean and wind conditions are normally calmer during the day.

Top-Rated Activities for Oahu

Latest reviews of Whale Watching Tours in Oahu

Waikiki Whale Watching Cruise - Pink Sails Morning & Afternoon Tours [Dec-Apr]

Perfect whale watching activity

2023/01/29 Couples Grace

A beautiful day on the water. The weather was beautiful and we did manage to see a whale! Very magical

Oahu Morning Whale Watching Cruise from Kewalo Harbor [Dec-Apr]

Really fun trip!

2023/01/25 Couples Jason

We saw whales, the captain kept us pointed at them the entire time, and the crew was fun and helpful. Got some great pics and would do it again.

Waikiki Whale Watching Cruise - Pink Sails Morning & Afternoon Tours [Dec-Apr]

Outstanding whale wayching

2023/01/21 Families Christine

We had a great time! The crew was great and we saw whales!

Star of Honolulu Whale Watching Cruise with Sightings Guaranteed [Jan-Mar]

Great experience!!

2023/01/12 Families nagueyari

It was very first time to join cruise for us. Unfortunately we could not find whales but we could meet a lot of dolphins swimming. Luckily it was really nice fine day, we had a great experience on the big ship. Hopefully... more

Close
Waikiki Whale Watch Sail & Tour from Hilton Pier - Spirit of Aloha [Dec - Mar]

Whale Tail

2022/12/09 Solo Travelers Germaine

Excellent crew and we saw whales! Crew was fun and knowledgeable at finding us 2 whales to follow. Saw plenty of blow spouts, and a few tails in the air and 1 spectacular jump which someone caught on video too. A very g... more

Close
West Oahu Whale Watch Tour with Sightings Guaranteed - Hawaii Nautical [Dec-Mar]

Waianae whales did not disappoint!

2022/12/07 Solo Travelers Blu3yedblonde

An hour out, we were all (including crew) worrying we wouldn’t see any whales. Crew had seen 1 in the morning.
Into the 2nd hour 2 beautiful hump back made their appearance. They put on an amazing show for us, with mult... more

Close
Whale Watching Tours in Oahu (Marine Life Tours & Cruises), Oahu tours & activities, fun things to do in Oahu | HawaiiActivities.com
See whales on the best whale watching Oahu tours this winter, and watch as the Pacific humpback whales rest and play after traveling from Alaska to Hawaii. December and April is whale watching Oahu season, and the ocean becomes the winter home for humpback whales and their calves that are born in the island's warm waters, and with whale watching cruises, boat rides, and sails departing from Waikiki, the North Shore, and west Oahu, there is a whale watching experience perfect for everyone.