February 9, 2018

Whale Watching on Oahu: Best spots during whale season :: Oahu – Hawaii


When is whale watching season in Oahu?

Generally speaking, December to May is seen as the best time for whale watching in Oahu and the rest of Hawaii. While the best Hawaiian island for whale watching is said to be Maui, there’s a chance you can see whales in Oahu too if you go during whale season.

If you’re headed to Maui too, here’s one of the best ways to see whales on Maui.

During the spring and summer, the North Pacific humpback whale population swims in the cool and nutrient-rich waters in northern areas like Alaska to feed on krill and small fish. But most of these whales migrate nearly 3,000 miles to Hawaiian waters each winter… says the state of Hawaii!

Side note!
If you'll be snorkeling on your next vacation, consider wearing these types of UV swim shirts. Also see about what to pack for Hawaii for hiking, snorkeling, and more essentials! And for Hawaii vacation ideas, see the best things to do in Oahu that will give you Hawaii vibes!

Peak whale watching season on Oahu

According to NOAA, the peak season for whale watching in Oahu is January to March. But humpback whales visit the Hawaiian islands every year from November to May, so it’s possible that you can see whales outside of that January to March peak whale season too.

Where can you go for the best whale watching in Oahu?

According to Hawaii’s tourism department, these are some of the best spots for whale watching in Oahu that you can test your luck on your own:

These locations are all on the southeast part of Oahu.

If you don’t have an extreme desire to see whales in Hawaii enough to dedicate half a day to whales through an Oahu whale watching tour… and instead have the mindset that “it’d be nice but not mandatory” to see a whale when you’re out doing a non-whale-dedicated activity… consider heading to Makapuu Lighthouse Trail!

Whale tours

If you do want a better chance at whale sightings, these can be some of the best tours for that.

If seeing whales in Oahu is at the top of your Hawaii bucket list, a whale watching tour is your best chance to be able to mark that check.

And here are some more of the best activities on Oahu that you MUST consider!

Whale watching Oahu: As an alternative to whale watching tours in Oahu, you might try your luck off the coast of Makapuu during whale season!

But if you’re not going to leave Hawaii disappointed if you don’t see whales in Oahu, the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail could be a good choice to consider!

Here are a few reasons to head to Makapuu Lighthouse Trail during whale season!

There are binoculars on the trail

Whale watching Oahu: Binoculars so you can test your luck whale watching in Oahu during whale season!

If you aren’t bringing your own whale-watching binoculars like these as a part of your Hawaii packing list, there are binoculars on the trail that you can use to better spot any whales that are out there! At last check, these binoculars were free.

It’s a coastal trail

Whale watching Oahu: Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, one of the best spots on Oahu for whale watching as an alternative to whale watching tours in Oahu during whale season!

The trail runs right along the coast which means you have a number of spots to choose from to pick a spot for whale watching along the trail.

Best short hikes with scenic views on Oahu

what to pack for hiking in hawaii >> what to wear hikingbest shoes for hiking

near makapuu lighthouse trail >> things to do on east side of oahu

You can set up nicely for your photography shots

Whale watching Oahu: Spots to test your ocean travel photography skills when whale watching in Oahu during whale season!

If you’re bringing along your camera for travel photography, there are many spots along the trail that can make for good spots to set up. Take extra caution when doing so though!

It’s free

There is no entry fee and there is no parking fee at this hiking trail. Although, depending on the time you go, there could be a ton of cars and a bit of a challenge with parking. But nothing that should deter you from making trail parking a reason to not go!

Whale watching Oahu: Parking at Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, where might go for whale watching during whale season as an alternative to whale watching tours in Oahu.

You’re there to hike anyway, so what’s a little bit of extra walking, right? 😉

Even if you don’t have whale watching success, you’ll have had a nice Oahu hike!

Because the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a coastal trail which means stunning views, it can make for one of the best hiking trails in Oahu. So even if you don’t achieve success with your whale watching, you can still walk away thinking you had a good day!

But again, if you really want to see a whale, you may want to consider those whale watching tours when you’re in Oahu! These are some of the best tours.


what to pack for hawaii >> what to wear snorkeling – what to wear hiking

best short hikes on oahu

There are affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, I may receive a commission.

Best shoes for your active vacation

Hit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see more about the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.

Swimwear for snorkeling and beach

- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!

see more:
- What to wear hiking
- Snorkeling essentials for Hawaii
- What to wear on a cruise formal night

more Hawaii travel tips:
-- Oahu travel planning map
-- 3 day Oahu itinerary
-- 2 week Oahu itinerary
-- Best short hikes on Oahu with amazing views
-- Big Island travel planning map
-- 7 day Big Island itinerary
-- Best beach hikes on the Big Island with amazing views