How to maximise your Hawaiian whale watching adventure

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Gregory Smith / Flickr images

The Humpback Whales travel about 6,400 kilometers yearly to mate in the Hawaiian warm waters from their Alaskan feeding grounds. During their stay in Hawaii, there are lots of sea surface actives by the Humpback Whales in their magnificent display to entice a mate. This makes the Hawaiian whale watching scene an attractive destination for travellers.

Below are some tips that will help you get the best experience out of your next whale watching escapade in Hawaii.

Synchronise your trip to the whales peak mating period:

Assuming you’ve not booked your trip yet. The first pod of Humpback Whales arrives Hawaii in November and leave towards the end of May. However, the height of the Hawaiian whale watching period is between February and March.

Known whale watching islands:

If you want to maximise your whale watching adventure then Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island are the places to be. From Oahu, you will see some but not as much as you would on the others.

Go on a boat tour:

These boat trips will give you the ultimate enjoyment in watching these gracious giants in their natural habitat. Because they are curious, you get the occasional stray approach your vessel. It is an utter delight to see how they relate to their environment up close.

During the whale mating season, these boat tours are abundant. Many scheduled depart during the day from the Lahaina Harbor. Likewise on Kauai and the Big Island, you will typically be accompanied by knowledgeable guides.

You can observe them onshore as well, at the Kilauea Lighthouse, Kealia and other high grounds in Kauai you will be able to see the humpbacks in action. From the right place, you can easily spot them by the plumes of water they make and their playful splashes.

Observe the rules of watching:

Like every other outdoor activity, there are rules to adhere to for a safe and rewarding experience. Do not get within 100 yards of a whale, whether by boat or by swimming. However, this rule does not apply to the whales, they are free to approach humans. All tour guides know this, and the seasoned guides are able to coax them to come close.

Think conservation:

In 1966 the Humpback Whale was facing extinction due to the exploitation and commercial whaling of the early 20th century. Luckily with the efforts of conservationist, their numbers have bounced back to about 30,000 to 40,000 worldwide. They are protected under international laws which seek to deter the exploitation of these amazing creatures. You also play your part to ensure their population continue to thrive for the future by;

  • Responsible whale watching
  • Not littering the beaches and water
  • Joining efforts to curb illegal whaling
  • Supporting sustainable products and companies

Whale watching is great fun, I do hope we will be able to preserve these creatures for a long time. On your next Hawaiian trip, take your loved ones, go whale watching, I guarantee you, it is an unforgettable experience.


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