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Hawaii Tours: 5 Whale Watching Spots

Whale, whale, whale, what have we got here then…

Sorry, one sentence in and already going for the krill.

Alright, that’s enough now – we have got it out of our system. All we are trying to say is – whales are awesome and one of the most amazing things you can do on a Hawaii tour is make the time to witness the world’s most impressive mammals.

The fact that whales are mammals is still mind-blowing (that wasn’t a pun, we promise). These are creatures that can hold their breath underwater for half an hour, that weigh more than five fully grown elephants, and that, every year, make a journey spanning thousands of miles just for a sunny holiday.

Not that we blame them, if we had to pick between the icy waters of Alaska and the Aloha spirit of Hawaii – we know which Hawaiian tours we would choose each time.

The humpback whale is the most popular species you will see slapping its tail and making the leap off of the shores of Hawaii. If you dream of witnessing the gentle giants of the sea in all their splendor, then these spots on a tour of Hawaii offer a front row seat to nature’s greatest show.

We love whales of all shapes and sizes, from Moby Dick to Free Willy. Take a look at these weird and wonderful facts about whales…

You are whalecome. 

Auau Channel, Maui

Whales in Maui

When the humpbacks come home, Maui may be the very best place to catch them. And literally, once upon a time -Maui was the epicenter of catching them, as it was the whaling capital back in the 19th century.

The shallows of the Auau Channel boast one of the best spots to watch the whales in all their glory. If you want to share the waters with these majestic creatures then you can head out into the sea around the blue of Lahaina, there are a bunch of tour operators offering trips to admire the behemoths.  Sometimes if you are lucky you can see them around the Molokini Crater.

If you want to keep a super safe and long distance from the cresting waves, fountain spurts, and nobly backs of the whales then the beaches along West Maui and South Maui offer a ton of choice.

The best is probably Kaanapali Beach. Grab a six pack of Big Wave beers, a carton of Poke and hit the sands for an unforgettable afternoon of whale watching in Hawaii.

Makapu’u Lighthouse, Oahu

Historic Makap'uu Point Light (Makapu'u Lighthouse) on cliffside of the island of Oahu with view of Pacific Ocean. It has the largest lens of any lighthouse in the United States. 2015.

The shining beacon of the Makapu’u Lighthouse sits prettily on the most eastern tip of Oahu.

Not only does the light guide the ships home, but it also seems to guide the whales into perfect view. This is one of the best spots on the island to witness the whales leaping with their young in the smudged blue waters.

The trail leading to the lighthouse is said to be one of the most beautiful tours in Hawaii. A wide brimmed path that wraps around the coast and provides unrivalled viewing points out to the waters where the whales frolic.

The best thing about this spot is that during the season you are sure to see whales here. When you get tired of watching the giant creatures slam their tails and leap from the white water, then you can go down to Makapu’u Beach and embrace a bit of bodysurfing.

Poipu Beach, Kauai


The sunny south side also known as Poipu Beach isn’t only a postcard pretty beach, but is also a wonderful spot to whale watch. From December through May, you may be able to spot the gentle giants roaming of the shores of Kauai, and Poipu Beach is one of the best breaks to spy them across the waters.

Seeing your first whale tail rise out of the water is a moment worth savoring, and from Poipu Beach you can even take a sunset catamaran cruise with the very intention of sipping a cool cocktail and seeing this awesome sight for yourself against a watercolor sky.

Of course, the catamarans have to keep a safe distance as the last thing you want is a whale tail crashing down on your blue curacao drink.

If you don’t want to head into the gauzy blue waters, then you can opt to take any one of the trails that crisscross across the headlands around Poipu. From these dizzying heights you will be able to see across the bay and can watch the vapor waters spray from the blowholes of a mother and her calf.

Halona Blowhole, Oahu

Halona Blow Hole on a clear, sunny day at Oahu, Hawaii.

The Halona Blowhole is one of those amazing gifts that nature leaves under the Christmas tree, one of those gifts that simply keeps giving when it comes to Hawaii adventures.

Even if you take away the chance to spot whales, the blowhole is every bit as entertaining as it sounds. Formed by molten lava tubes from thousands of years ago, a natural blowhole has appeared in this infamous Oahu spot. Combined with a surge of water from the rolling waves – you can watch the water shoot up to thirty feet in the air.

We don’t recommend going and peering into the blowhole, unless you want to experience life like a real life Wile E Coyote. But take a giant step back and watch the action from a safe distance. If you want to learn more about the tragic figure that is Wile E Coyote and his Sisyphus like mission to catch Roadrunner, check it out…

Along with the blowhole this is also a spot to watch whales frolicking and playing out at sea. Swing by during the winter months, when the sky is that glorious shade of blue and you can see for miles for the very best view.

Diamond Head Cruise, Honolulu 

diamond head in honolulu

On the sweet shores of Honolulu, you will find a ton of cruise offerings boasting the best ship to sail into the setting sun. Watching the whales from shore is surely magical, but there is something ethereal about being in the water and so up close and personal.

The Oahu dinner cruises almost always glide past the sparkling heights of Diamond Head. From the depths of the beautiful blue sea you can turn and admire the fleshed out green landscape behind you, the haze of sand, and the emerald glow of the rainforests.

The cruises tend to have nature specialists at the helm, meaning that they can steer you in the right direction to find the playful whales, and answer all your questions. Throw into the mix a delectable dinner and bottle of wine and you are well on your way to the ultimate whale watching experience. Cruising the waters to find whales is one of the best things to do in Hawaii.



  • Elizabeth L

    Aloha! I’m Elizabeth L. At LiveYourAloha, I am responsible for writing about sightseeing tours and Hawaiian culture. For the last 12 years, I’ve been working as a tour guide in Hawaii. It’s been a great way to see the world and learn about new cultures. I love nature and the outdoors, and have even climbed two of the world’s highest peaks! Making connections and showing my visitors the incredible beauty of these beautiful islands is a passion of mine. When I’m not out giving tours, you’ll likely find me on an invigorating hike or enjoying local cuisine on the beach.