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Whale Watching in Kailua-Kona

Finding the best whale watching in Kailua-Kona can be a daunting task. While embarking on this trip promises an awe-inspiring encounter with these majestic marine giants, it is easy to get overwhelmed choosing between all the different experiences offered around the Big Island. To help ensure the most unforgettable experience, it’s essential to navigate the different aspects of whale watching off of Kona’s bustling shores. From understanding the optimal booking times to selecting the right tour operator, finding the best whale watching in Kailua-Kona involves a blend of timing (including early booking), research, and choosing the right local company to witness the mesmerizing beauty of these playful creatures!

When to Book a Whale Watching Expedition in Kailua-Kona

Whale watching in Kailua-Kona is at its peak during the winter months when humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian waters, from the chilled Alaskan arctic, for breeding and birthing calves (that they had conceived in Hawaii the previous year). To secure the best Kona whale watching opportunities, it’s advisable to book your whale watching expedition during the peak season, typically from December to April, and WELL in advance. During this period, the warm tropical waters off the coast of Kailua-Kona become a playground for these magnificent creatures, offering an unparalleled spectacle of breaching, tail slapping, and nurturing behaviors.

The migration of humpback whales to Hawaii during the winter serves a crucial purpose in their life cycle. The whales travel thousands of miles to the warm and protected waters of Hawaii for breeding and calving. What’s crazier is, no one is exactly sure how they know where they are going other than basic instinct. These journeys to and from usually last the whales 3-6 weeks. The winter months provide a safe and optimally warm environment for the birth of whale calves, who have less fat or blubber than adults, allowing them to grow stronger in the tropical waters before embarking on the journey back to their prime feeding grounds in colder regions. Fun Fact: the females tend to lose around one third of their bodyweight in Hawaii as they spend their time coaching, feeding, and caring for their newborn calves.

What to Expect to See Whale Watching in Kailua-Kona

When embarking on a whale watching excursion in Kailua-Kona, expect a mesmerizing display of playful and majestic behaviors from humpback whales. Witness the giant out of the water breaches, tail slaps, and see as the whales engage in social interactions as they navigate the tropical Hawaiian waters. The sight of these amazing creatures in their natural (secondary) habitat creates an unforgettable experience, providing a connection to the wonders of marine life in Hawaii!


While Kona snorkel tours allow for in water exploration, whale watching in Kailua-Kona is a topside adventure that focuses on observing humpback whales in their natural habitat, from the boat. This is the only safe way (both for human guests and the whales themselves) to have a close interaction. While Big Island snorkeling showcases the vibrant marine life below the surface, whale watching provides a unique opportunity to witness the awe of the largest mammal as they navigate the shallow Pacific around the Hawaiian isles, creating a distinct and memorable experience for everyone involved! However, if you are looking to have a fun experience in the water with the island’s sea creatures, then be sure to check out our blog with recommendations on the best Kona snorkeling tour.

Our Biggest Tips For Going on a Whale Watching Tour in Kona

For an optimal whale-watching experience in Kona, consider these few key tips from our experienced team: 1. Choose a reputable tour operator with knowledgeable guides who can provide insights into the whales’ behaviors and characteristics. 2. Opt for a boat tour that offers unobstructed views and, if possible, small group tours so that you can gain the best views of the show the whales put on. 3. Bring necessities! These will likely include sunscreen, a hat, a camera, and/or binoculars to enhance your comfort and ability to observe during the excursion. 4. Lastly, approach the journey with patience and appreciation for the unpredictable nature of wildlife encounters.

You should keep in mind that no whale watching experience in Kailua-Kona can guarantee one thing or another. While a reputable local tour boat may boast having seen full breaches out of the water, or a skilled crew that through years of experience has been able to better understand where the whale pods hang out– it is nature! If you are coming at the end of peak season or on a day where the whales just don’t feel as active, you may see less than what you expect. What can be ensured however, is that your captain and crew will do their best to create a memorable day out on the water no matter what the weather, whale, and ocean conditions are; (if they are unsafe however you will likely be contacted to cancel or reschedule due to keeping you and the teams safe).

Choosing Dolphin Discoveries For Your Whale Watching Excursion on the Big Island

For an exceptional whale watching excursion on the Big Island, our team at Dolphin Discoveries stands out as the most reputable choice. You can check out our website to hear from others, or reference our TripAdvisor and Yelp! Review pages; we pride ourselves on creating the best possible experiences for our guests. With experienced guides, boats that accommodate small groups and create the best intimate experiences with the humpbacks, as well as a commitment to marine education while on board and safe ecological practices, Dolphin Discoveries offers a whale watching experience that is both informative and undoubtedly memorable. Choosing Dolphin Discoveries ensures you embark on a well-guided whale discovery adventure, enhancing your understanding and appreciation for the incredible humpback mothers, males, and calves that grace the waters of Kailua-Kona.

If you have any other questions or want to know how to make sure that you secure your spot aboard the best boat for whale watching in Kailua-Kona– then be sure to book well in advance AKA right now!