Year-Round Whale Watching in Hawaii

Cetacean Sensation

Nothing beats the awe-inspiring rugged beauty of the Waianae coast. Except… it’s stunning and diverse wildlife.

Get in touch with your Wild Side and meet your finned counterparts on Oahu’s year round whale watching of Hawaii’s “Other Marine Mammals“…

The array of whale and dolphin species in the clear temperate waters of Oahu are known world-wide amongst marine biologists getting 'mugged' by a himpback whale (such as Hawaii’s favorite winter visitor – the Humpback Whale). To experience these whale intensive areas of Hawaii, and perhaps to see the rarest species of whales on Earth go with the experts. Species of whales or dolphins we encounter will most frequently depend on how deep (far from shore) we are able to go, weather and other conditions permitting.

The Hawaiian term for dolphin is nai’a, and refers to all the smaller dolphins found in Hawaiian waters, though “kiko” is used for spotted dolphins. The larger pilot whales, false killer whales, pygmy killer whales etc. are usually termed “blackfish”.

There are 18 species of toothed whales in Hawaiian waters including Sperm Whales, Pygmy Whales, Melon-headed whales, False Killer whales, and rarer Orcas and Beaked Whales. Other dolphin species encountered year-round include the resident Rough-Toothed Dolphins, Pilot Whales, Spinner, Bottlenose, and Spotted Dolphins.

The humpback whale is by far the most common baleen whale found in Hawaiian waters, although there have been rare sightings of fin, minke, Bryde’s, blue, and North Pacific right whales (and one grey whale!) as well.

Pods of dolphin and whales commonly contain “nursery groups”. Such as mothers with their young, young females taking turns babysitting, or juveniles, and a few older males mixed in. The pod stays in contact with each other via extensive and complicated series of click’s, whistles, squawks, and high pitched squeals.

“We measure intelligence first by brain size and complexity – dolphins and other whales appear to be second only to modern humans. Observing their behavior – they are self-conscious individuals with personality, memory and the ability to reflect on their own thoughts. This actually meets the definition of a person, and is consistent with the brain evidence.”

– Lori Marino, neurobiologist

Whale Watching Takes Place Onboard:

Throughout the course of the year many species are encountered in these waters. The depth to which you travel will usually determine what species you will see. Pelagic birds diving and feeding are usually the tip off to the blue-water species. Large blows (spouts) from humpbacks or sperm whales are easily seen from afar. Small whales such as pilots are often on a few different groups spread out over a couple of miles. Other pods are found by the splashing and ‘going ons’ as they hunt.

Part of the excitement is that each day offers unexpected surprises. Wonderful photographic models, these animals provide guests the opportunity to take home fantastic vacation pictures or video footage. One of the best souvenirs of your time spent in Hawaii. Photos also add to conservation management. One way we accomplish this is through sharing with research programs and databases

Frequency chart of whales and dolphins of Hawaii

Wild Side’s wildlife tours focus on education and conservation so that an interactive relationship can be maintained in the best interest of both humans and dolphins. We strive to foster admiration and deep respect for these wonder-full marine mammals.

Although our sighting rates are at 95+% we cannot guarantee sightings, interaction with wild dolphins, whales, snorkeling, nor ideal weather conditions. We reserve the right to not facilitate in-water OR shipboard encounters which we feel may compromise the well-being of our guests or ocean wildlife. All passengers are required to wear locator/flotation devices. We do not offer transportation to the boat harbors.

Wild Side adheres to the WCA Global Best Practice Guidance Whale Watch minimizing the risks of adverse impacts of whale watching.