Whale-Watching on O‘ahu

Humpback whales make an annual migration of 3,500 miles from the Gulf of Alaska to the warm waters of the main Hawaiian Islands every winter.

While the greatest congregation of whales is found off the windward coast of Maui, humpback whales routinely frequent O‘ahu waters during their Hawaii stay from October to March. Once in the shallow waters, they engage in mating behaviors and give birth to massive calves.

Makapu‘u marks the rugged and dry eastern tip of O‘ahu.
Makapu‘u marks the rugged and dry eastern tip of O‘ahu and makes for a great vantage point for whale-watching from the shore. Photo © Carl Clifford, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

On the windward coast, whales can be seen breaching, tail slapping, and spitting plumes of spray from their blowhole as they cruise along the coast. Fortunately for whale-watchers, humpback whales like to congregate in the waters from Makapu‘u to Koko Head, and swim very close to shore as they pass by. The lookouts at the Makapu‘u Point State Wayside are a great vantage point for watching their exhibitions, as well as the several lookouts along the winding Kalanianaole Highway toward Hanauma Bay.


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