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Where To Go Whale Watching in Oahu – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to go whale watching in Oahu, Hawaii then you’re in the right place.

There’s plenty of places to see whales in their natural habitat all over the island of Oahu.

This post will tell you all of the best places to go whale watching in Oahu and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out.

Whale Watching In Oahu

Oahu, Hawaii is a fantastic place for whale watching.

Every winter, 12 to 18 thousand humpback whales migrate over 3,500 miles from Alaska to Hawaii to mate, give birth and raise their calves. 

After the winter is over they head back up north to feed and build up fat reserves.

The waters surrounding Hawaii provide a safe environment to raise calves, far from predators and allows the whales to rest.

The whales come up for air every 15 to 20 minutes and this is when you’ll get a magnificent glimpse of them as they spray water up into the air. 

Quick Summary – Best Place For Whale Watching In Oahu

The best way to go whale watching in Oahu is by booking a boat tour. This will give you an up-close and personal view of the whales.

Did you know you can also see dolphins in Oahu?

Can You See Whales From The Shore In Oahu?

Yes, you can see whales from the shore in Oahu. To get a better, close-up view of the whales you should join a boat tour. 

If you’re not interested in joining a tour then you will still be able to see the whales from the shores of many beaches across Oahu and from some elevated look-out points (discussed below).

I’d recommend getting a pair of binoculars if you’re viewing whales from the shore to ensure you get the best view of the whales. 

The Best Places To See Whales In Oahu

There’s plenty of places in Oahu where you can see whales from the shore. Below I’ve detailed the best spots.

Keep reading for information on the best tours if you want to get a closer view of the whales.

Makapu’u Lighthouse

One of the best places to go whale watching in Oahu is at Makapu’u Lighthouse. 

Makapu’u Lighthouse is located on the easternmost point of Oahu island. It’s a popular hiking spot that offers incredible views of the ocean making it an ideal whale watching spot.

The lighthouse is located on Makapu’u Point which sits at the top of a 647ft sea cliff. You will have to hike to get here but you’ll be rewarded with epic views and whale sightings. The hike is easy and only 2 miles overall. 

There is a telescope up here for whale viewing which is super helpful if you didn’t bring your binoculars. 

You can see the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail in the video below, look out for splashes in the water (that’s the whales!):

Hanauma Bay

Another great place in Oahu to go whale watching is at Hanauma Bay. 

Hanauma Bay is an enclosed bay located on the southeast coast of Oahu.

This bay is famed for having turquoise waters and an abundance of marine life including sea turtles. It’s actually one of the best spots to see turtles in Honolulu.

It’s a very popular tourist and snorkeling destination.

During whale watching season, whales can often be spotted just off the shore. The best place to see them is by walking up to the hilltop which overlooks the bay. 

You can also see the whales from the beach.

The video below shows a whale sighting from Hanauma Bay:

Find out where to go whale watching in Maui.

Diamond Head

Another great place in Oahu where you can go whale watching is at Diamond Head which is also known as Leahi by Hawaiians.

Diamond Head is a volcanic crater located on the south coast of Oahu. It’s popular for its incredible ocean viewpoints and hiking trails.

There are various viewpoints at Diamond Head that look out over the ocean. All of these are fantastic spots for whale watching due to their elevation. 

Don’t forget to bring some binoculars for the best view!

The below video shows an amazing sighting of a whale jumping out of the water, spotted from Diamond Head:

The Best Tours For Whale Watching In Oahu

The best way to go whale watching in Oahu is by joining a boat tour.

This allows you to get as close as possible to the whales and see them swimming, feeding and playing around your boat.

Another great tour is this whale watching boat tour which also includes snorkeling.

As well as whales, you’ll be able to see sea turtles, dolphins and tropical fish.

If you’d prefer you can also book a private boat tour just for you and your group!

This allows you to get away from the crowds and spot whales in peace with just your friends and family.

Your private tour guide will take you to the best possible spots for whale sightings.

Check out the video below to see some of the whales found surrounding Oahu. You can get epic views like these by joining a boat tour.

Find out where to see whales on Big Island.

Best Time For Whale Watching In Oahu

The best time for whale watching in Oahu is between the months of November and April (known as whale watching season). 

The first whales arrive in Oahu in late November and more arrive as the season progresses. 

Whale numbers around the island of Oahu peak in January, February and March.

This is the best time to go whale watching in Oahu as sightings are almost guaranteed if you go to the right places.

The whales start to leave Oahu again in late April.

The table below shows the best months for whale watching in Oahu.

MonthChance Of
Seeing A Whale
JanuaryVery Good Chance
FebruaryVery Good Chance
MarchVery Good Chance
AprilGood Chance
MayVery Low Chance
JuneNo Chance
JulyNo Chance
AugustNo Chance
SeptemberNo Chance
OctoberNo Chance
NovemberLow Chance
DecemberGood Chance

The best time of day to go whale watching in Oahu is early morning. Numbers are highest at around 8am so you’re more likely to see a whale if you head out at this time. 

Early morning is when the whales tend to be most active.

Another good time is late afternoon just before sunset. 

You can also sometimes spot whales in the daytime but it’s less common. 

The below video gives some more information on whale season in Hawaii:

Find out where to go whale watching in Kauai.

Thanks for reading this post on where to go whale watching in Oahu. 

There’s plenty of options here to see whales in their natural habitat around Oahu. 

If you’re staying in Waikiki then you may be interested in finding out where to see sea turtles in Waikiki.

Alternatively, you can check out Oahu’s North Shore where sea turtle sightings are basically guaranteed.

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