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whale watching season in hawaii

When is whale watching season in Hawaii?

Whale watching season in Hawaii is December through April. Every year, more than 10,000 humpback whales from the northern Pacific migrate from Alaska to Hawaii in the winter to mate and give birth. They swim 3000 miles to the most distant island chain in the world, the Hawaiian Islands. Most of the Hawaiian Islands are known for whale sightings, but about 75% of the humpback whale population spends the winters on Maui, in the warm, tranquil waters of the Maui Nui Basin.

Over the years, the number of whales migrating to the island has been growing steadily. So, the number of whale watchers in Hawaii is also increasing. Read about customizable private boat tours in Hawaii.


whale watching season in hawaii


When is whale watching season in Hawaii?

Whale watching season in Hawaii is December through April. These are specific months of the year that are ideal for whale watching because more whales are in Hawaii during these months. Humpback whales travel in a trickling migration pattern. Only a few whales started their migration so early, but October is the earliest period to see humpback whales in Hawaii.

By the end of November, and around the Thanksgiving holiday, there are more frequent whale sightings. Humpback whale sightings are always guaranteed on tours that start in December. Though, it is still early in the migration season in December, you’ll most likely spot humpback whales on every cruise. Be on the lookout for those that exhibit active surface behavior. You can have a whale of a time by watching some curious and friendly whales.

Although January through March is the busiest time of year for whale watching season in Hawaii, the best months are actually December through April! By January, the island will welcome more whale activity than in December, and by February, you’ll be having a whale of a time.

You can observe humpback whales everywhere! By this time, the shores of Hawaii is home to thousands of humpback whales that are mating, giving birth, and enjoying their winter vacation. You still get a lot of exciting whale encounters in March as the migration starts to slow down and ends by the middle of April. Learn more about whale watching and reef snorkel tours in Kona.

What time of day is best for whale watching in Hawaii?

The best time of the day for whale watching is anytime. Whales are constantly active and relaxing. They cycle between periods of activity and repose because they are not really feed while in Hawaii. Rather, they are mating and giving birth, which take place at peculiar hours both throughout the day and night. This resting and active period has a significant impact in their behaviors. It also means that you can observe these animals at different times of the day.

If you are taking professional photography shots, it is best to watch whales during the day. Not due to whale activity, but rather due to the preferred lighting for aerial or underwater photography. The early morning and late afternoon cruises provide the softest light for your backdrop if you intend to take photos of humpback whales above water.

The optimum lighting for photos taken with a waterproof phone, or any other waterproof camera will be in the middle of the day when the sun is highest if you’re expecting to capture humpback whales underwater. You can select from sunrise to sunset to go whale watching (and yes, they are still active at night, but it’s a little trickier to see them!).