Whales

Old Mar 28, 10, 10:04 pm
  #1  
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Whales

My dad and I are coming to Oahu April 9-13 and I noticed that whale season runs through May. Does anyone know if the whales are currently active in and around Oahu now or what I can expect in 2 weeks?

Thank you
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Old Mar 29, 10, 12:29 am
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Actually, the season is more like into April, so...
Whale watching is actually better from Maui (much better). The Pacific Whale Foundation (1-800-942-5311) is on Maui, but still a viable source to help you with your question.

Or simply Bing or Google ...Whale watching Oahu... and get a couple vendor phone numbers and call them as to how they are running. It was awesome in February off Lahaina (Maui). Even if it is iffy, a nice day at sea with the dolphin is always a good day too.
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Old Mar 29, 10, 7:46 am
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My wife and I have been in the Hawaiian Islands many times in April. We have seen Humpback whales off each island. The month of April is when the Humpback whales start returning to Alaskan waters.

If you notice, I mention Humpback whales a couple of times. I assume you are speaking of Humpback whales. If you decide to do a whale watch that "guarentee's" whale sightings (if you don't see any whales, you will get a refund or a free trip), use caution and ask what species of whales. The Hawaiian waters do have other species of whales. If you don't see any Humpback whales but see another species of whales you will not be entitled a refund or a future free trip.

Remember, whales like other animals, mammals, etc they do what they want, when they want. Here is an example. My wife in 2008 went to Oahu and Maui at the beginning of March. We were told by many people and travel websites that the end of February thru the beginning of March is the "prime time" for Humpback whales. As previoulsy stated, we have been to Hawaii in April plenty of times before and seen plenty of Humpback whales. We figured it is prime time this time and we would see alot of whales.

We checked into the Grand Wailea on Maui. Walked down to the beach. Whales everywhere! Breaching, peck slapping, etc. My wife loved it! I went walking before sunrise every morning and could hear the Humpback singing. I had booked a whale watch via a kayak figuring it is prime time. A couple of days later we go on our kayak trip out into the channel. NOT ONE FRIGGIN HUMPBACK WHALE! Not one! Over 2 hours out in the channel and nothing.

So, if you do a whale watch, expect nothing. But if you get to see one or several, be excitied. Like someone said, Maui offers the best viewing. Shallow, warm waters. The Humpback whales do not eat in Hawaiian waters. They are like humans. In Hawaii for the fun, sun and "other" activities.
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Old Mar 29, 10, 3:58 pm
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Thanks a bunch for the info. I guess I will make some calls and see how things are going with some of the tour operators.

Since we are only there a couple nights, the guarantee won't be too much of a deal for us, as we probably have a one time shot at it anyway. There are definitely other sites and things to see on our agenda.

Thanks again.....Can't wait to get there now.
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Old Mar 29, 10, 4:13 pm
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Originally Posted by ranles View Post
Whale watching is actually better from Maui (much better). The Pacific Whale Foundation (1-800-942-5311) is on Maui, but still a viable source to help you with your question.
+1 Worked for us.

Of course, OP could also see them off Mexico and California at the right time of year.
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Old Mar 29, 10, 4:57 pm
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Whales in April

We were in Maui last year during the last 10 day of April, and not only saw schools of whales during our whale watching excursion, but the whales were swimming right off the beach of our hotel.

Although the "experts" told us were late in the whale watching season, we must have seen at least a dozen while staying at the Fairmont Wailea and the Four Seasons.
Several times while we were snorkeling near the reef, whales and dolphins were swimming not far from us.
We also saw several while boating out to dive sites.

So fear not, it's not too late !!!
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Old Mar 30, 10, 8:14 am
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Just returned from Maui (9 night stay) and saw whales from our balcony on 7 of these from the Fairmont kea lani. Also did the whale cruise with Whale Foundation and saw many tail-high deep dives, plus calfs and moms too, Great experience !!! The really cool part is while swimming/snorkelling you can hear their songs while your underwater.
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Old Mar 30, 10, 10:02 am
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I will preface my comments with the statement that I have never been whale watching from Oahu; I have whale watched from Maui and Kauai. I have been on several hundred whale watching excursions in Hawaii over the past fifteen years. One year I went on 51 whale watches. So far in 2010, I have travelled to Maui two times just to go whale watching and am going again this weekend.

The official humpback whale season (when the sanctuary rules go into effect) is from mid-December to mid-May. The whales travel to and from Hawaii in a staggered migration. The highest number of whales is from mid-February to the end of March. The highest concentration of whales is in the area among Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Whales are sighted near Kauai and Oahu; however, many times these whales are in travel-mode. The best place to see whales in their most-active states of behavior is from Maui. As others have said, you may see them from shore and from boats.

I have posted a very detailed trip report about my most-recent whale watching experiences in Maui with links to whale watching companies and links to photos and videos. It is in the Trip Reports Section.

If you really want to see humpback whales, travel to Maui, go out on one of the smaller boats (Ultimate Whale Watch, Maui Ocean Adventures, Safari, and/or Captain Steve's), and go out more than once.
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Old Mar 31, 10, 2:56 am
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I flew over to Maui last Wednesday just to go whale watching.
Went with Ultimate Whale Watching (I highly recommend them! ) and sighted numerous mother/calf/escort combinations as well as solo adolescent males. All humpbacks.

Even got a bonus and ran with a huge group of spinner dolphins over by Lanai for a while.
Saw some psuedorcas (false killer whales; actually of the dolphin family) near Lanai last Fall. Really special.

While the "season" is winding down, there are still Humpback whales to be seen off Maui.

Then just this past Sunday we watched a humpback calf caper around just off shore at Kahala on Oahu. Neat but disappointing, since I had been Stand up Paddling in that very spot (honest!) the day before and didn't see anything but waves knocking me down
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Old Mar 31, 10, 9:10 pm
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Thanks again eveyrone for some great information. I doubt we can make it to Maui on this trip, but the wife always wants to go back, so will definitely look at that for a return trip (sooner than later I hope).

One more question though. What times of the day are best to see whales being active? Are they more active early in the morning or some other time?

Thanks again....
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Old Apr 1, 10, 4:33 am
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Originally Posted by jimjamkc View Post
Thanks again eveyrone for some great information.
One more question though. What times of the day are best to see whales being active? Are they more active early in the morning or some other time?

Thanks again....
Experts will tell you that there is no best "time" to see them, so pick the time that is best for you. For example: It gets very windy off Lahaina in the afternoon, and that may cause choppy sea conditions . If you're prone to motion sickness, you might want to pick an AM trip.

One thing I have noticed is that whales tend to "seem" more active when the sea is calm. If there are lots of whitecaps, then it's both tougher to pick them out, and they may not be playing around as much.
I don't have any scientific evidence to support this, but it is my impression formed over 12+ years of whale watching on Maui & Oahu.

Good luck
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Old Apr 1, 10, 9:22 am
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I concur with ted "no relation" nugent that when the seas are calm there is better viewing. I don't know if the chop has anything with the whales being less active. I believe the chop interfers with viewing. Even though the humpbacks are large, picture being in a boat bobbing up and down. When your in a hole, you can't see too far.

My wife and I prefer morning tours. We are up anyhow, doesn't waste the whole day and the winds are alot lighter on ost occasions. From our viewing, whether by boat or from the shore, they are active all of the time. It is location, location, location. With that said, review my post within this thread dated March 29th. I mentioned our whale watching kayak trip. You will laugh.
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Old Apr 6, 10, 2:49 am
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Originally Posted by tednugent(no relation) View Post
Experts will tell you that there is no best "time" to see them, so pick the time that is best for you. For example: It gets very windy off Lahaina in the afternoon, and that may cause choppy sea conditions . If you're prone to motion sickness, you might want to pick an AM trip.

One thing I have noticed is that whales tend to "seem" more active when the sea is calm. If there are lots of whitecaps, then it's both tougher to pick them out, and they may not be playing around as much.
I don't have any scientific evidence to support this, but it is my impression formed over 12+ years of whale watching on Maui & Oahu.

Good luck

Here are some good whale watching spots from the shore on Oahu: Ka'ena Point, Halona Blowhole Lookout, Hanauma Bay, Shark's Cove, Makapu'u Point Lighthouse, Turtle Bay Resort, Lanai Lookout...
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Old Apr 6, 10, 9:29 am
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I flew back from Maui last evening. We went on eight whale watching trips: three on Saturday with Ultimate Whale Watch, three on Sunday with Ultimate Whale Watch, and two yesterday with Maui Ocean Adventures.

Out of the eight whale watching excursions, we had two that were quite good, three that were not so good, and three that were OK. Our best was yesterday afternoon from 12:30 to 2:30. We followed an amazing competition pod for about an hours. At least eight males were chasing the female. The males were doing huge head lunges, ramming each other, and other aggressive behavior. We had two of the challengers come over to our boat and swim across the bow. We saw one breach when a new challenger joined the competition pod.

Our second best whale watch was on Sunday evening from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM with Ultimate Whale Watch. We just happened to drop the hydrophone very near the escort and he was a little ticked off. He surfaced and did a peduncle throw at the boat.

We had some great under the boat activity; an escort swam over to the boat and glared at us. We also had a curious calf that came over to the boat.

We were told that the smaller companies would probably stop offering whale watching trips by April 15 since the number of whales was decreasing daily.
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Old Jan 6, 11, 5:40 pm
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I just returned from a whale watching trip to Maui. I went on fifteen whale watches over a five day period and had an amazing time. I really want to emphasize to anyone who is travelling to Maui between late December through early April to go whale watching and to go on one of the smaller, locally-owned boats that actually assists with humpback whale reaserch in Maui. Ultimate Whale Watch, Captain Steve's Whale Watch, Maui Ocean Adventures, and Maui Ocean Rafting all use zodiacs of various sizes for their whale watching adventures; America II and the Scotch Mist use sail boats; Maui Safari Company uses a boat that is extremely family-friendly. I have been out with all of these companies over the past fifteen years and cannot stress what a truly magnificent experience it is to go whale watching with people who genuinely appreciate these amazing animals. If you want more details, go to their websites, email me, or read my trip report about whale watching last February for my birthday.

I will be submitting a new report about my latest adventures as soon as time permits.
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