Big Island Whale Watching Tours
See Humpbacks in the Wild!
Big Island Whale Watching Tours: Things to Know
1. Big Island whale watching tours are seasonal
Each year, thousands of humpback whales make the long journey from Alaska to Hawaii. Humpbacks return to the warm waters of Hawaii for their breeding and calving season. They’ll stay for only a few months, then return to Alaska in the spring for their feeding and hunting season. Their arrival and departure are somewhat staggered. Therefore, whales are in the area anytime between late November and early April. However, sightings peak in January and February.
2. Reserve your cruise for early in your trip
Most tour operators will let guests rebook the tour for free if there are no whale sightings. If you wait until the end of your trip you may not be able to rebook if there were no sightings. Book your tour early, just in case.
3. Keep your camera ready
Watching a whale the size of a school bus breach is a magical moment. Yet, it can happen so fast that you could miss it if you’re not paying attention. Cruises come with plenty of distractions too, like drinks, snacks, beautiful scenery, etc. But you definitely don’t want to miss a sighting. Pilot whales, spinner dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles could also pop up at any moment. Stay vigilant!
4. Come prepared to listen
Most whale watching tours on the Big Island use underwater microphones connected to the boat’s sound system. Guests can listen to the humpback’s otherworldly whale song during the tour. Humpback singing is louder than other whale species, so you may hear them even when you can’t see them.