Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

Whale Watching – Big Island Hawaii

The total area and landmass is not the only thing big about the Big Island in Hawaii; it is also home to migrating pods of big humpback whales. This is where they mate, calve, and nurse their young after their 3,000-mile journey. These gentle giants only breach in Hawaii, so watching the whales in their natural habitat is an experience unlike any other. 

The whale watching season…

Maui celebrates the arrival of the season’s first pods of humpback whales, which usually happens some time between August and October. The island even hosts an annual Whale Festival with vibrant parades and colorful exhibits at the peak of the whale breaching season in February, to celebrate these gentle giants.

The humpback whale season in Hawaii reaches its full swing by November and then slowly dwindles down in April and May when the majority of the whales have started departing. The seas are calmest in the morning and late afternoon, so it is best to view whales by boat during these times.

There are several tours available in the Big Island that allows you to have a more personal encounter with the humpback whales in a catamaran, a vehicle designed for open ocean explorations, so you can just sit back and relax throughout the tours and breathe in the ocean-y goodness that the Big Island has to offer. 

Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

1. Whale Watching On the Big Island – $75

Whale Watching On the Big Island

This guided two and a half hour on a 24-person catamaran takes guests to the best spots on the water where the whales are most visible. Hydrophones are provided so guests could hear the whales as they sing. Whale sightings are guaranteed, otherwise, the next trip is free. On lucky days, there are also playful dolphins in the area. 

Snacks and refreshments are also provided in this tour,  and you do not have to worry about bathroom breaks  because the catamaran is equipped with restrooms on-board. Although there is a guide on the trip, the catamaran is nonetheless operated by an experienced United States Coast Guard licensed captain. Hence, guests need not worry about anything else other than having fun on this tour. 

Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

2. Whales and Cocktails Cruise at Sunset from Kawaihae – $138.25

Whales and Cocktails Cruise at Sunset from Kawaihae - $138.25

This tour allows guests to enjoy an amazing cocktail on a 24-person catamaran while looking for humpback whales during a Hawaiian sunset. This two-hour evening tour also features learning about the biology and behavior of humpback whales from the naturalist guide, while enjoying a variety of cold appetizers. 

The catamaran has restrooms, netted trampolines for lounging in front of the boat, and an open bar for cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. A variety of appetizers are also provided for the comfort and pleasure of its guests. 

The catamaran will try to get as close as possible to the gentle giants, but not less than 100 yards, since it might alter the behavior of the whales and put everyone at  risk. Nevertheless, the splashes and spouts from the whales are just breathtaking. 

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Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

3. Kona Whale Watch Express – $135

Kona Whale Watch Express

Unlike most marine wildlife tours on a 24-person catamaran, Kona Whale Watch Express tour is a more intimate kind of cruise, since each tour is designed for only six people. Private charters and tours like this provide more personal service, and make the tour more exclusive. Another feature of this tour is that it also includes reef snorkeling. Food, drinks, and snorkeling equipment are likewise provided, so guests don’t need to bring anything other than their sense of adventure. 

Aside from seeing the whales during the cruise, guests also get to see colorful reefs, wild dolphins, sea trenches, and lava tubes while snorkeling. 

Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

4. Morning Whale Watching Charter – $99

Morning Whale Watching Charter

Mornings are the ideal time of the day to go whale watching. The waters are calmer in the morning and there is a big chance that guests will see a mesmerizing whale spout even before the catamaran leaves the bay. 

This three-hour tour is a private guided charter, so you will only be with your group and no other participant in the tour, although groups need to meet a minimum number of participants to book a tour. 

Breakfast, snacks, and drinks are provided in this tour, and humpback whale sightings are also guaranteed, otherwise guests are given a complimentary tour for free. 

Whale Watching Big Island Hawaii

5. Zodiac Raft Whale Watching Adventure

Zodiac Raft Whale Watching Adventure

Unlike most tours where passengers ride a catamaran, this tour takes guests on a high-speed raft. This is more exciting since whales sometimes swim just in front of the boat. Nevertheless, the captain would still comply with the federal laws and not go nearer than 30 meters from the humpback whales. 

While searching for spouts on the blue horizon, the naturalist guide and captain shares bits of information about the humpback whales, and then sets a hydrophone so guests can listen to  the eerily enchanting song of the humpback whales. Kona is also known to less famous species of whales, as well as other marine animals like turtles, dolphins, and manta  rays, so there is also a big possibility of seeing those on this tour. 

Humpback whales are generally docile creatures; nevertheless guests should exercise caution at all times and comply with the safety protocols to ensure safety, while having a one-of-a-kind experience with these gentle giants. 

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