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Where To Go Whale Watching On Big Island – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to go whale watching on Big Island in Hawaii then you’re in the right place.

There’s plenty of places to see whales in their natural habitat all over Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii).

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

Whale Watching On Big Island

Big Island, Hawaii is one of the best places in the world 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 On Big Island

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

Best Time For Whale Watching On Big Island

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

The first whales arrive at Big Island in late November and more arrive as the season progresses. 

Whale numbers around the island peak in January, February and March. This is the best time to go whale watching on Big Island as sightings are almost guaranteed if you go to the right places (discussed below).

The whales start to leave Big Island again in late April.

The table below shows the best months for whale watching on Big Island.

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 on Big Island 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:

Can You See Whales From The Shore On Big Island?

Yes, you can see whales from the shore on Big Island.

Joining a boat tour will give you a much better, close-up view of the whales but you can still see them from the shore. 

I’d recommend getting a pair of binoculars if you’re viewing whales from the shore to ensure you get a good view of the whales and make the most out of your trip.  

The Best Places To See Whales On Big Island

There’s plenty of places on Big Island 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. 

Kohala Coast

The best place to go whale watching on Big Island is along the Kohala Coast. 

Sightings of whales on the Kohala Coast are super common. In fact, sightings are 2 – 3 times more likely here than anywhere else on the island.

The Kohala Coast is just the northwestern portion of Big Island. There’s many places along this stretch of coast where you can observe whales in the ocean.

These include Kapa’a Beach Park, Lapakahi State Historical Park, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Pololu Valley and Holoholokai Beach Park (all discussed below). 

You can see the whales found along the Kohala Coast in the video below:

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

One of the best places to go whale watching on Big Island is at the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site lies on the northwestern coast of Big Island.

It preserves the ruins of the last ancient Hawaiian temple and is also a popular spot for whale watching. 

This spot is an excellent site for spotting whales due to it’s elevated views overlooking the Kawaihae Harbor.

You can also often spot reef sharks and dolphins here too.

Lapakahi State Historical Park

Another great spot on Big Island where you can see whales from the land is at Lapakahi State Historical Park.

Lapakahi State Historical Park is a large area of ruins from an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. It lies within the North Kohala District.

This park is located on the northeastern tip of Big Island and is great for whale watching due to its 100ft elevation! You’ll often see whales just off the shore. 

Kapa’a Beach Park

Another great place on Big Island where you can often see whales is Kapa’a Beach Park.

Kapa’a Beach Park is a remote beach on Big Island’s northwestern coast. 

This small, quiet, rocky beach provides fantastic views of the shoreline and ocean which is perfect for whale watching.

Whales are commonly spotted here during whale watching season. Binoculars are definitely a must for the best possible view. 

Check out the video below which shows a whale sighting from Kapa’a Beach Park:

Pololu Valley

Another great place on Big Island where you can go whale watching is Pololu Valley.

Pololu Valley is one of several valleys found on the east coast of the Kohala Mountain. 

This picturesque gorge features trails and beaches with epic ocean views making it a prime spot for whale watching.

The best place to see the whales is at the Pololu Valley Lookout.

Holoholokai Beach Park

Another great spot for whale watching on Big Island in Hawaii is at Holoholokai Beach Park.

Holoholokai Beach Park is a black, lava rock beach located on Big Island’s northwestern shore.

On this beach you can often see whales in the ocean along with other marine life such as dolphins and sea turtles.

The Best Tours For Whale Watching On Big Island

Boat Tours

The best way to go whale watching on Big Island is by joining a boat tour like this one. This tour will take you to the some of the best viewing grounds on Big Island for whale watching.

Another great whale watching tour on Big Island is this boat tour that cruises along Kona Coast.

One both of the tours above you’ll be able to spot whales and listen to them sing through a hydrophone.

You’ll be able to get really close to the whales on a boat tour!

Check out the video below which shows some of the amazing whale views you can get whilst on a boat tour:

Kayak Tours

Another great way to see whales is to join a kayaking tour around Kealakekua Bay.

You’ll be able to snorkel and kayak around the bay and spot both whales and dolphins!

Raft Tours

A super fun way to see whales in Big Island is on a raft whale watching tour!

You’ll be able to see whales swimming right in front of you whilst aboard the high speed raft!

Airplane Tours

A unique way to go whale watching on Big Island is by joining an airplane tour!

You’ll soar over Big Island in a Cessna plane getting incredible aerial views of Hawaii’s volcanoes, beaches and valleys.

You’ll also be able to spot migrating humpback whales in the ocean.

Private Boat Tours

If you want a special experience then you can book a private whale watching tour just for you and your group.

Get away from the crowds and spot whales from your private boat, your private guide will take you to the best spots.


Thanks for reading this post on where to go whale watching on Big Island (Island of Hawaii). 

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

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