We love living in O`ahu year-round, marking the seasons by the shifts in the trade winds and the appearance of more rain clouds in winter to fuel our waterfalls and ignite our famous rainbows. Winter also brings more visitors to our shores, but not just of the human variety. Every fall, Hawaii’s largest visitors, 30-ton humpback whales, complete their 3,000 mile migration to bask in the warm waters of the islands.
The whales travel from the cold, productive waters of Alaska every year, taking 6-8 weeks and arriving beginning in late November. Here they mate, give birth to their young the following year, and feed their year-old calves the year after that (babies stay with their mother for the first year, making one round trip together). The main breeding ground for humpbacks in the North Pacific, Hawaii hosts as many as 10,000 whales when the season peaks in January-March.
Whale Watching Oahu, Made Easy
Thanks to the islands’ location in the middle of the Pacific, the steep underwater topography means that deep water is close to shore, just outside of our reefs and shallow bays. This makes for epic whale watching from the comfort of land. Some of the best whale watching Oahu sites are also short, enjoyable hikes, all of which we highly recommend.
On the eastern shoreline you can stroll the paved path to the top of Makapu`u Point, watch the spouts of the whales and the Halona Blowhole on the scenic coastal highway, or hike out to the promontories on either side of Hanauma Bay. Closer to Waikiki, the Diamond Head Scenic Lookout offers an excellent perch 700 feet above the coast and is a sunny spot to watch the whales pass by.
For those staying with us at Beach Villas Hawaii, Westside beaches afford ample Ko Olina whale watching opportunities as well: Electric Beach, Makaha, Yokohama Beach, and Kaena Point are easily accessible and often have whales close to shore.
If you want to get up close and personal with these gentle giants, several companies offer cruises and tours. Federal law says all boats must keep 100 yards distance, but if the whales venture closer you’ve been “mugged” and the boat will have to sit patiently until the whales leave. Aw shucks! Keep your eyes peeled for breeching whales launching their 40-foot bodies into the air, and ooh and ahh at mothers with their not-so-little babies.
Ko Olina Whale Watching Ocean Adventures and Ocean Joy Cruises both operate whale watching Oahu cruises out of the Ko Olina Marina, adjacent to the rental properties of Beach Villas Hawaii. Wild Side Specialty Tours (30 minute drive to Waianae Harbor) offers smaller charters and more intimate experiences, but reservations in advance are a must. If you are visiting us during whale season, make sure you don’t miss out and book your tours today!