Whale Watching Kona Tours
If you visit Kona, Hawaii between the months of January and March, then you’re right on time to take part in a wonderful two-hour whale watching cruise. Our large population of humpback whales, (Kohola in Hawaiian), have traveled over 3,000 miles, all the way from Alaska, to enjoy the warm and safe waters of the surrounding Hawaiian islands.
Our fun and relaxing whale watch allows you to spend some time out at sea and observe these gentle giants in their element. Visitors often see a huge tail crest in the water and might even catch a whale breaching, or breaking the surface of the water and falling back in with a humongous splash💦! If you’re considering whale watching Kona is the place to do it🏝
Climb aboard our boat to set out in search of whales. Our boat’s speed allows us to cover more distance, giving us a better chance of finding whales who can range over many miles along the Kona coast. Sometimes the whales are shy, so just be patient, and eventually, we’ll spot a spout or a flipper to help lead the way.
Throughout the journey, our helpful guide will tell you all about Kona’s humpback whales, their long, yearly migration down to Hawaii each year, and the important place Kohola have in the history of Hawaii.
This whale watching tour is a great opportunity to get some sun, breath in the ocean air, and spend quality time with your family. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome, so bring the whole family! You’ll also want to make sure you bring your binoculars and cameras so that when the humpbacks make their appearance you can capture those amazing moments forever.
WHAT TO BRING
- Rain jacket
About Humpback Whales 🐋
A female humpback can weigh up to 40 tons (one ton is 2,000 pounds) and stretch up to 60 feet (18 meters) in length, which is about the size of an American school bus! Humpback whales may be monstrous in size, but they are peaceful creatures. They feed on krill, small fish, and plankton. As you can imagine, these big guys and gals need to eat A LOT to stay full, and a single whale may suck in 3,000 pounds of food a day!
Every year, the Kohola come to visit us in Hawaii, drawn by the warm and relatively shallow water. This is where mothers give birth and start nursing their new calves (who weigh about one ton at birth). Humpback whales are mostly a dark shade of gray with varying amounts of white on their pectoral fins. Their distinct white markings allow us to tell them apart.
One of the things we love most about the humpbacks is that they are a playful bunch. They often slap their fins, tails, and heads on the surface of the water or jump out of the water, known as breaching. Mother whales are also very affectionate with their calves, often touching them with their flippers. Amazingly, male humpback whales sing complex songs that can last up to 20 minutes and can be heard up to 20 miles (30 km) away.
WHO THIS IS FOR
This whale watching Kona tour is for anyone who wants to see awesome nature up close and personal. Oftentimes we will see more than just whales. Although they are the highlights of the day Kona is home to many other ocean critters. Whale watching Kona is not for everyone. Expectant mothers and anyone with back or neck injuries may not appreciate the ride if the swell is up.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT WHALE WATCHING KONA?
The humpback whales have spent almost a year and a half of preparation for this visit. Feeding in Alaska to get enough energy to come back and spend months rearing their calves with no access to food. Seeing a Mother and her calf can be a truly magical experience. The calfs will use their mother to rest on the surface. When they get enough energy they will practice breaching (jumping) just like their mom and dad. It’s fun to watch as they awkwardly flop on the surface learning the art of the breach. We may also witness tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping, and echoing spouts from the tremendous amounts of air in their massive lungs. Whale watching Kona can often be more than you may have expected.
The behavior and the groups of whales can vary widely. We carry a hydrophone with us so we can listen in on their conversations. Sometimes whales will float completely neutral at depth facing down for up to 20 minutes! During this time they will sing a song for their family and other whales. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot a whale and even more difficult to know where they will emerge when they decide to come back up again. Whale watching Kona is always full of anticipation. It pays to have good eyesight and lots of patience.
The other place to see humpback whales in the United States is Alaska. Viewing these same whales in Alaska can be a different experience. The weather in Alaska can be more challenging and the ocean conditions may not always be ideal. We are fortunate here in Hawaii to have near-perfect weather and ocean conditions much of the year. Kona is located on the dry leeward side of the Big Island so we often encounter less rain than your typical tropical island making viewing much easier.
While you won’t witness any of the amazing feeding activity like bubble nets that these monstrous creatures are known for you may be lucky enough to see some play or even some mating behaviors. Humpbacks will breach, slap, and snuggle quite often. They are also often accompanied by ‘escorts’ usually Bottlenose Dolphins who are there perhaps to ensure the safety of the newborn calf from predators such as killer whales or Orcas. That’s right we do have Orcas here in Hawaii. They will often come through for short periods of time passing through the area in search of sperm whale and humpback calves or other prey. We have seen some of the most amazing things out on the water. You won’t believe what is possible here on the ocean in paradise 😎.