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Big Island Whale Watching


Humpback whales are here in Hawaii waters in large numbers from December to April every year. No, you don't have to go on a boat to see whales if you are here during the right time of the year. It is common to see people standing on a hillside overlooking the ocean and watching the signs of distant whale activity through binoculars.  


You can often SEE whales from shore ... but you can't EXPERIENCE them from that distance. There is a tremendous difference between watching a whale splashing in the water two miles away and experiencing the thrill of looking over the edge of the boat and having one of these gentle giants swim directly underneath you. If you are here during peak season, look hard at the pictures above and then do yourself a favor and go on a whale watch. Here is a selection of whale watching tours or other cruises on which you are likely to see whales.  

Spirit of Kona / The Makai

Blue Sea Cruises offers daily whale watches from December 15th to March 31st on one of their two vessels. The Spirit of Kona is the Big Island's only boat designed for viewing marine life above and below the surface with an upstairs observation deck and glass bottom viewports downstairs. The Makai is a smaller vessel and while it does not offer glass bottom viewing, this boat is faster at reaching the active whale pods. It also has a comfortable upper deck lounge area which offers a great viewing platform for watching the whales. The tour operator decides which boat to operate for the daily whale watch based upon the anticipated number of passengers on the morning of your tour. Departure isat 12pm from the pier in downtown Kailua-Kona. Adults are $84, chidren ages 5-11 are $63, and infants 4 & under are free.

The Spirit of Kona has added a $5 per person fuel surcharge which will be added to the cost of all their tours.


Waikoloa Whale Watching

Hawaii Ocean Sports offers whale watching on their two sailing catamarans in the Waikoloa area. Whale watching is available daily at three different times!

8am Wake Up with Whales ... 2 hour early-morning whale watching tour including kona coffee and granola bars. Adults $99.00, Children 6-12 $49.50, 5 & under free

10am Whale Watch ... 2 hour whale watching tour. Adults $99.00, Children 6-12 $49.50, 5 & under free

3pm Whales and Cocktails ... 2 hour whale watching and an open bar for beer, wine, and cocktails. Adults $119.00, Children 6-12 $59.50, 5 & under free





Whale Watching is available for cruise ship passengers who are in port for the day; the best choice is the Spirit of Kona / Makai whale watch as it leaves from the same pier where your ship arrives. You might also consider doing your whale watching on Maui.

Activity Tips

No, you don't have to go on a boat to see whales. During the peak season (mid-January to mid-April) it is very common to be able to see whales from the shore. But these sightings are usually pretty far away ... it is not a particularly impressive sight to watch a whale jump out of the water three miles away. And these creatures are SO impressive when you experience them close-up. There is a big difference between SEEING a whale and EXPERIENCING a whale.  Do yourself a favor ... go on a whale watching cruise.

The Humpback Whales begin to arrive in November, and most of them have arrived by the beginning of January. Worried if you'll actually see a whale? It's GUARANTEED! At the end of your whale watch you'll feel silly you ever worried about it. There are SO MANY whales here during peak season that locals refer to the ocean as "whale soup."

How close will you get to the whales? That depends on the whales. By law, the boats must stop 100 yards away from a whale. They are incredibly curious animals though, and  they OFTEN approach much closer than that. Sometimes they mug the boat and swim directly under it ... you may even get the rare treat of smelling whale breath! The sound of a spouting whale is something you will not forget ... it is much like the puff of a steam engine locomotive

Spirit of Kona offers a unique chance to see whales underwater through their glass bottom viewing ports ... IF you are lucky enough to have one swim directly under the boat. Does that happen every day? Honestly ... no ... but it does happen a few times each whale season. This year the tour operator will be doing whale watches 7 days a week, either on the Spirit of Kona or on the smaller sister vessel, the Makai. The advantage of the Spirit of Kona is that there is an outside chance of getting to see a whale underwater through the glass bottom. With the Makai the advantage is that it is a smaller, faster boat that gets to the whale pods quickly. You don't get to select which boat you want to take; that decision is made by the tour operator based upon the anticipated passenger count on the morning of your tour.

We recommend Waikoloa whale watches for those staying north of the airport ... save yourself the drive into Kona town. For $5 extra the whales and cocktails cruise is a good deal, and the more you have to drink, the more whales you will see (exactly TWICE as many!)

Best time of day? Well, it doesn't much matter on the Big Island. Whales are equally active and will put on a great show all day long. The general wisdom in Hawaii is that morning is calmer than afternoon. The Kona Coast of the Big Island is a little different than Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. The sheer height of Mauna Loa blocks the trade winds and afternoons are often just as calm as the mornings. So ... go when you want. The whales are waiting for you!











Big Island Whale Watch Reservations


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I acknowledge that I have read the booking procedures below and wish to submit this reservation for processing.

Upon submitting your activity reservation for processing, one copy is sent to your e-mail address so that you have a record of your order. We will make reservations for you and send an e-mail confirming all of the details. These confirmations are often sent a few minutes after your reservation, but some activities take longer to confirm than others. You will receive an e-mail confirmation by the end of the next business day at the latest. There are no tickets that you need to pick up prior to your event. Your e-mail confirmation will have all the details you need to check in and enjoy your selected activity. This saves you precious time when you arrive in Hawaii. 

A credit card is required to guarantee payment for your reservations, but in most cases WE DO NOT charge your credit card when your order is placed. Your credit card is typically charged five days before you leave for Hawaii, and a voucher is faxed to the vendor. Some activities are charged at the time of check-in and your e-mail confirmation will inform you if this is the case. If you cancel your activity after your credit card has been charged you will receive a refund less 10% to cover our credit card processing costs.

We do have one vendor that requires payment at the time that your reservation is made. These activities are clearly marked on our website with the words, "Payment required at the time of reservation."

After making reservations, you may reschedule or cancel your activity up until 48 hours prior to its start (a few activities have 72 hour cancellation policies ... see your confirmation e-mail for details). Within 48 hours of the start of your activity all reservations are final and non-refundable (unless the event is cancelled by the vendor due to weather or other factors). Due to our incredible climate here, weather cancellations are rare.  No-shows and cancellations without adequate notice are charged in full on the credit card used to secure the reservation and are non-refundable.





Most rates quoted on this website do not include the Hawaiian state sales tax which adds 4.1667%, 

or the state harbor fee of 3% on boat excursions. Adventureinhawaii.com is a FREE reservations service;

 we have no hidden service charges or fees that we charge for servicing your reservation

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