Catching a glimpse of Hawaiian spinner dolphins and migrating humpback whales can be life changing, especially when you do so in a safe and responsible way. When it comes to dolphin and whale watching Oahu has a lot of options. It’s easy to spot a spinner dolphin once you’re out on the water. Humpback whales are more elusive, journeying down to the warm Hawaiian waters only in the winter between December and April. Oahu’s leeward, or west, coast is the best spot to see these gentle giants—and while there are a few whale watching tours on Oahu, most marine cruises will encounter humpbacks during the season.
From luxury cruises with complimentary cocktails to rugged open-ocean excursions on Zodiac, check out these awesome options for dolphin and whale watching Oahu has to offer! But note, if you’re hoping to see humpback whales, make sure you book during the migration season to avoid disappointment!
#1 – Whale watch on Oahu’s leeward coast
Dolphin Excursions, Waianae, West Oahu
These small-group whale watching tours are available December to March, during Hawaii’s whale watching season. Departing from Waianae at 2pm, they’ll take you out on their 34-foot rigid inflatable boat so you can get up close and personal with the whales. Watch these gentle giants breach and slap the water as they blow off some steam in Oahu’s leeward waters. The west coast seem too far for you? These guys also offer roundtrip transportation from Waikiki and Ko Olina hotels.
Choose this for: small-group whale watching
#2 – Snorkel Oahu’s leeward coast with dolphin and whale sightings
Ocean Joy Cruises, Kapolei
Cruise up the west coast of Oahu with dolphin sightings and whale watching in season on the Kai Oli’Oli with this family-run tour company. Their morning cruise will take you on a fully narrated tour of the entire west coast of Oahu. During the winter months, you’ll see whales in their natural habitat and glimpse dolphins playing in the boat’s wake. Space is limited to just 12 passengers on this boat making it super intimate, and the tour includes a buffet as well as alcoholic beverages. Not too shabby!
Choose this for: small-group whale watching in season
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It’s important to be respectful of all marine life. If you want to learn more about NOAA Fisheries guidelines for safely and respectfully viewing marine life, check out this page on their website.