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Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 761
reviews: 68
Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Heading over in early February and we would like to be able to go to parks and/or beaches and hang out a while and see if we can spot whales. Where would be the best locations as far as ease of getting to [we will have a rental car] and best chance of sightings. Thanks~

Volcano, Hawaii
posts: 565
reviews: 8
1. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

The best places I have seen from shore include the Kawaihai area in South Kohala. Hapuna Beach is here and easy to get to. You can also try the Honokohau Harbor in Kailua Kona. I was there recently with my wife and we saw close to 30 spinner dolphins right near shore. Kealakekua Bay is another area for dolphins.

The closest I have ever seen Humpback Whales were less than 20 yards off the cliffs of Mackenzie State Park in Puna, but that is not a place where you will be guaranteed to see them.

Wherever you are near the ocean, keep an eye out for spouts. You might get lucky and see them closer to shore, but for a better chance of seeing them close you may consider taking a boat ride.

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 1,384
reviews: 5
2. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

From the Lanai of our Hale Kona Kai condo, we see Humpbacks on occasion, but sometimes the timing is outstanding; this cool video was taken (I believe) at Honl's Beach which is just a 100 yards south: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78xYPU-YTV8

We drive up north to Hawi ( gohawaii.com/big-island/…hawi ) every 5 years or so & there are a number of great spots to watch whales. Even if just average luck, it's a nice drive.

This link includes a couple of Big Island recommendations by the National Marine sanctuary:


Not specific to the Big Island, but you might enjoy this (take it to HD & full screen): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnU-6pZL3eY

...and, if time permits, this 50 minute PBS video is wonderful: http://video.pbs.org/video/1325905658/

Hope your luck is fantastic because we'll also be on the Big Island in February.

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 761
reviews: 68
3. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

LOL, I see we are neighbors, BeachesMountains! Small world. Thanks for the info, to both posters! This is our second trip so we are somewhat familiar, but our other trip was in October 2006 [just before the earthquake] so not sure about seeing the whales.

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 33
reviews: 1
4. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Here is a map of whale sightings based on aerial surveys between 1993 and 2003.


This map shows where you you can best see whales on Hawaii. The red zones are the best spots to see whales, the yellow zones also have whale sightings but relatively less. The aerial survey data was collected by Dr. Joe Mobley from UH during 1993 - 2003 and the density surface was developed by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 1,384
reviews: 5
5. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Cool map Gerrit; probably need to increase our Hawi trip frequency!

Hope you're having better luck with your flights than we are Debits; just received United Air notification # 9 ( resulting in a total of 3+ hours on the phone with people who all sound like Peggy in the Discover Card commercials - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZXZAlfykpo ) regarding schedule changes and see that 48, out of 50 seats on our homeward Denver connection remain unsold...I'm sensing a cancellation due to "mechanical (sure) problems" resulting in a 6 hour layover.

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 761
reviews: 68
6. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

We are flying ABQ to San Jose on Southwest [reward tickets] and then non-stop to Kona on Alaska. Got a great deal last week, hence the trip. Pretty spur of the moment for us. Never thought to fly up to Denver and then out from there.

Honolulu, Hawaii
posts: 9,499
7. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

In my experience, the very best spot to whale watch on the Big Island....

Is from the top of Puu Kuili, a 342-foot tall cindercone in the middle of the Kekaha Kai (Kona Coast) State Park, located a few miles north of the Kona Airport.

It is is the only major cindercone on the makai (ocean) side of Queen Kaahumanu Highway along the Gold Coast.

A hot hike to be sure, but fantastic views (particularly if the vog is minimal), and have never not seen at least a whale or three during season.

Hilo, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
posts: 29,215
reviews: 4
8. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Beaches, the drive to Hawi is a winner for spotting the spouts, but places to pull over are few that are real pullouts. Can I pick your brain for where you like to stop?

I find my sightings are poor if I sit somewhere and wait for whales, most sightings just happen while driving or walking. But then, I have never tried the Pu'u amberloo recommends. sounds like a winner!

I have seen whales breach right in front of the main beach of the Mauna Lani, but at other times I have been and not seen any ... they are not "on demand" although I wish.

Albuquerque, New...
posts: 1,384
reviews: 5
9. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

Hi KK,

PLEASE excuse; lost track of this thread.

I'm pressed for time, so will just map over info assembled for a co-worker/first timer to BI of Sharon; hopefully you'll be able to easily wade through the redundancy.

Hey you two,

With reference to the North Kohala drive we discussed, here's some blabbing that may help you decide if the North Kohala drive is something you'd enjoy.

Maps- two that may be useful:

From the Drive Guide you'll receive with your rental car.


This one is one of my favorite "beach locators" for the Big Island. It only covers a couple of the places featured below, but should be of help for great spots near Waikola-


Our visit back in Feb, 11 was our first in awhile, and we started from a base of Hale Kona Kai in Kailua Kona, so you'll have a 45 minute head-start. Other than a hour+ bumming around stop in Hawi (pronounced Havi), we made a beeline for the Pololu Lookout. Last time our beating the crowd objective worked; we considered ourselves lucky to find a parking spot this trip. If you click on POLOLU BEACH on the Hawaii Gaga map above, it will give you a hint of the wonderful view. Personally, & 100% up to you, but I don't think the hike down to the beach is worth it; you'll experience some of Hawaii's best (aka FANTASTIC) closer to your condo.

As mentioned in the Maui memo, the Humpback watching is better there, but we've had consistently good luck from Polou & most recently it was one of the most exciting from land ever: I still haven't loaded photos, of two mother Humpbacks & babies (unbothered by horny males), but will bring our album Saturday night. Anyway, we followed them all the way around the northwestern tip of the Island for 3+ hours. It waas soooo cool &, had there not been an extra pair of binoculars borrowed from our condo, we would have had a serious wrestling over the Canon image stabilizer (which I'll put in my car for you right now).

It's time consuming, so we skipped this trip, but a long hike to the Kauhola Lighthouse, if the weather is perfect (no 50 mph wind) is neat. If you plan on doing it, consider taking a picnic. This link is AAA & includes great instructions. For sure, don't press it in your rental car; even if the gate is open. There will probably be other cars parked &, knock on wood, it's relatively safe to park there.-


One stop, definitely worth, and easier alternative to the lighthouse, is Keokea Park (we arrived about 5 minutes before the cruising Whales). Info-


Our next stop was back in Hawi. We had been debating a piece in the Kohala Artworks and decided to bite the bullet (it was Sharon's turn to buy!). Also, there is a hole in the wall sandwich place a few doors down (don't recall the name, but at the end of the boardwalk; you can't miss it) that has the best smoothies on the Island...if 50% ice cream floats your boat. This article from Hawaii Magazine is a few years old, but worth a few minutes-


Our next recommended stop is Kapa'a Beach Park.it's usually uncrowded (btw, please stay out of Kamaaina's way & don't do this trip on a weekend). Our BIGGIE was meeting up with good friends: the same Humpbacks!


Trundeling along south, there are two more places to stop. The first you'll come to is Mahukona Beach, but I'd definitely recommend bypassing in favor of Lapakahi State Park. If you're late enough in the day, it's a great spot to watch the sunset.



Also, along the route are several new (at least we didn't remember them) little 5 car pulloffs that will enable sight-seeing without getting side-swiped.

That about does it; if you give the day trip a try, hope you enjoy!

Edited: 8:38 am, January 14, 2012
10. Re: Best spots to Whale Watch from shore

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