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whale watching in oahu

Whale watching in Oahu is a unique and unforgettable experience — on everyone’s bucket list. It’s one of those do-or-die experiences you simply need to do. Folks who come to Hawaii, and don’t go whale watching might as well have not come to the island chain in the first place. Every year, thousands of tourists travel to the Hawaiian Islands to witness the beauty of these gentle giants. From December through May, humpback whales migrate to Oahu’s warm waters and can be seen breaching, spouting, and doing all types of stunts from the shore or from a boat. With its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, Oahu offers many amazing spots for whale watching. It’s certain to be an experience you’ll never forget!

The popularity of whales on the island

Hawaiian culture has a deep and long-lasting connection with whales. Whales have been an important part of Hawaiian life for centuries, playing an integral role in the culture’s spiritual beliefs, history, and mythology.  They are acknowledged as ancient beings and protectors of the Hawaiian Islands and their people.

Whales have been revered as ‘aum kua,’ or ancestors who have been deified and may take the form of animals, plants, or natural events. They are also venerated as messengers from the gods, especially Kanaloa, the god of the sea and open-ocean travel. Whales represent strength, courage, and wisdom in Hawaiian culture.

Today, whales in Oahu continue to be a source of inspiration and pride for the Hawaiian people. They are celebrated in traditional songs, stories, artworks, and ceremonies. This reverence for whales is reflected in their laws and customs, which seek to protect them from harm.

Not only do whales provide valuable ecological services to Hawaii’s oceans, but they also represent a deep connection between humans and nature that is still alive today in Hawaiian culture.

Whale watching and swimming – It’s really popular

Oahu is a stunningly beautiful island in Hawaii. With its clear blue waters and abundant marine life, it’s no wonder rubbing elbows with mother nature’s Kaijus is so popular here. The ocean views are breathtaking, and the chance to see whales in their natural habitat is an experience that is hard to beat.

The popularity of whale watching in Oahu, Hawaii has grown steadily over the years. From humpback whales to sperm whales, visitors can witness a variety of species near the island’s coastline. With an abundance of food sources and plenty of places to rest and breed, it’s no surprise that whales are drawn to Oahu’s shores.

Additionally, swimming in the warm waters of Oahu provides a great opportunity for relaxation and exploration. Not only can you get up close with these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, but you can also enjoy the stunning scenery and explore the underwater world. With so many amazing things to do on Oahu, it’s no surprise that whale watching and swimming have become two of its most beloved activities.

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just want to take in the beauty of nature, Oahu has something for you!
best whale watching oahu

Best places to see whales in Oahu

Oahu is home to some of the most bizarre and awe-inspiring creatures on Earth – whales. These beautiful beasts have been captivating the hearts of Hawaiian locals and tourists alike for centuries. Whether you’re looking for an exciting whale-watching tour or a peaceful spot to observe these majestic creatures, there are plenty of places to choose from. Here are the best whale sightings in Oahu: 

Makapu’u Point

Also known as the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. A black gate indicates the beginning of the trail.


  • The best whale watching in Oahu.
  • Parking is available off the main road.


  • It takes 30 to 45 minutes of hiking (one way), up a 30-degree grade, to get to the site.
  • Windy conditions at the top.

Insider Tips:

  • Go early, there is no shade on the trail, and it can get rather hot.
  • The whale information sign, located about two-thirds of the way to the lighthouse, is the finest place to see whales.

Kaena Point

Located at the westernmost tip of Oahu.


  • It offers extensive vistas of the island’s still-rough north and leeward beaches to intrepid hikers.


  • The five miles of rocky, hot-uneven terrain from the parking lot to the destination.
  • Hot with little shade.

Insider tips:

  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. 

Waianae Coast

Leeward Oahu is the name given to the Waianae Coast.


  • The weather is dry and sunny due to the mountain range.


  • Highway 93, which follows the coastline, is winding, narrow, and renowned for accidents.
  • Insecure swimming conditions; unreliable surf.
  • Homeless people live in beach parks.

Insider tips:

  • Don’t miss the sunset.

Diamond Head

Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu.


  • A reasonably good vantage point to scan the ocean for whales.
  • Parking is available.
  • Viewing scopes are available. 
  • Easier to get to the majority of Oahu tourism hubs.


  • Because it is more touristy, it can be overcrowded and somehow difficult to find a spot for whale watching.

Insider tips:

  • Be sure to visit the Education Center.

Koko Head

Located on the east side of Oahu.


  • One of the most popular whale-watching destinations in Hawaii.
  • Scenic view overlooking Hanauma Bay.
  • Fewer tourists.


  • A challenging hike through a set of 1048 old railroad tracks.
  • It takes between 30 and 50 minutes to reach the top.
  • Located far from the city.

Insider tips:

  • Keep hydrated while climbing and use plenty of sunscreens.

Hanauma Bay State Park

Located east on Kalanianaole Highway towards Makapuu Point.


  • Parking is available.
  • Great location for swimming, snorkeling, and wildlife observation.
  • Scenic views.


  • The parking lot fills up early.
  • Reservation is required.
  • Filled with tourists.

Insiders tips:

  • Whale watching is best done from lookout points.
  • Bring a towel, swimsuit, and sunscreen.
  • It is closed every Monday & Tuesday.
    whale watching in oahu hawaii

An unforgettable whale-watching experience in Oahu 

Hawaiian Island has something for everyone. With its crystal clear waters, diverse marine life, and stunning landscapes, it’s no wonder why Oahu is home to some of the most spectacular whale-watching experiences in the world. Visiting the best whale watching in Oahu will give you an unforgettable experience that you won’t soon forget.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a guided tour, or a family adventure, visiting Oahu’s best places for whale-watching will allow you to see these incredible creatures up close and personal. Plus, there are plenty of activities and attractions near these sites that will make your trip even more memorable. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, make sure to include visiting Oahu’s recommended locations for whale-watching!