Whale and dolphin watching in Hawaii

Today, I have chosen the great marine mammals around Hawaii to write about.

Due to former whaling, the population of marine mammals has declined. Nowadays, fortunately, the whales are protected and are considered a "endangered species". The whale protection area is located around all the main islands of Hawaii from the coast to a depth of 180 meters. Hunting and disturbing the marine mammals is strictly prohibited.
In 1992, the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was founded. This organization focuses on education as well as public relations and has a large research department, which is all about the protection of the largest mammals in the world.

Humpback whale Big Island
A giant in Pacific waters | Image: © Konrad Mosert -

Most of the whales that can be observed from Hawaii are humpback whales. They cover about three thousand kilometres from the Gulf of Alaska to Hawaii in four months. The humpback whales come to Hawaii because they enjoy the warm, shallow water. They can give birth and raise their calves here at pleasant water temperatures. The male whales love to sing, so my tip to you is to open up your ears because you can often hear their songs up to 19 kilometers away 🙂

The best time to observe the giants is from December until May. Recommended are whale watching tourswhich are offered on every island of Hawaii: You go on the boat out to sea and approach the whales. Out of respect, you may only approach the animals up to ninety meters. But believe me, that's close enough if you consider that an adult male weighs about 45 tons and is about 12-16 meters long 😉.

And beware: the fountains that they spray can reach up to 3-6 meters high. Madness! But even if you don't feel like going on a boat, you can also observe many whales from land. However, you should remember to bring binoculars.

I also recommend Auau Channel,in the west of Maui: You can see many humpback whales with their calves between Lahaina and Kaanapau, even from the "the beach" Additionally, lanai and Molokai are also ideal for whale watching. If you are not sure where to go, messageme - I will be happy to help you!

If you rather belong to the dolphin friends, then I can calm you down. You will find over eight (!) different dolphin species around Hawaii. The two most common species are the spinner and the bottle nose dolphins. These species grow to weigh between 200-300 kg and they can reach a speed of 5-11 km/h. However, over a short distance, they can also reach up to 45 km/h if they swim fast.

On O'ahu and also on Big Island you can join a dolphin tour, where you can watch and get close to dolphins. There are even tours on which you can swim with dolphins in the wild. A great experience!

The dolphin is protected in the "Marine Mammal Protection Act". These mammals may not be approached without a restriction, the limit is 45 meters in the wild. Please do not swim after them or touch them if you are close to them. As dolphins are very curious they may like to approach you. So let the dolphins decide if they want to get close to you or if they prefer to remain undisturbed 🙂

Spinner dolphins cavort off Hawaii
Spinner dolphins cavorting off Hawaii | Image: © Serge Vero - shutterstock.

On O'ahu, you can see dolphins in the Sealife Park Here you also have the opportunity to swim with them. At Kahala Resort and Spa on O'ahu, there is the Marine Research and Learning Center Dolphin Quest. A great place to learn a lot about dolphins and also join them in the water. The famous dolphin show takes place every day at 3 pm.

To experience dolphins up close I recommend Big Island. The bay to Captain Cook is a popular destination for dolphins. My tip is: Rent a canoe and go after 1 pm - after the tour boats are gone. And if you are lucky, the dolphins will approach you on the way to the bay up to 10 meters.

Do you know any other great spots in Hawaii? I am looking forward to your comment 🙂

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One Response

  1. Hello Jessi,
    can you please give us a tip where we can best see humpback whales in Hawaii. I am planning our trip right now.
    Aloha, warm greetings, Beate

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