Beautifully arched backs, graceful limbs leaping and truly inspiring choreography. No, we’re not talking about prima ballerinas pirouetting on a brightly lit stage, but what we are describing are indeed dancers in their own rites, taking part each year in a truly awe-inspiring annual ocean ballet. Every circle of the sun, Hawaiian humpback whales migrate south — from the frigid ocean tides of Alaska to the tropical tides of Hawaii — in order to mate and give birth.

The official season for this whale of an adventure takes place from mid December and lasts throughout the middle of May each year. During this window of time, Hawaii local residents and visitors alike take full advantage of this prime opportunity to witness these spectacular sea creatures in their nautical habitats. And for those who really want to get the full VIP experience, up-close and personal, these Oahu whale tour companies will help you get a gander at these gentle giants.

Hawaii Nautical

Offering Oahu visitors exciting, eco-friendly excursions dedicated solely to whale-watching, family-owned and family-friendly company Hawaii Nautical whisks its guests away on sailing or power catamarans, complete with sodas and snacks. And even better? Hawaii Nautical guarantees a whale sighting on each “Whale Watch” specific trips, or your next ride’s free! The company even donates a portion of proceeds to help worthy causes, such as Hawaii Nautical Marine Life Foundation.

Learn more about Hawaii Nautical’s Waikiki tours and Hawaii Nautical’s West Oahu tours.

Dolphin Excursions Hawaii

An exciting whale watch tour on the remote west shore of Oahu, Dolphin Excursions Hawaii guests will cruise on the calmest and clearest waters on the entire island. With small groups aboard a state of the art 34-foot rigid inflatable boat — led by a lifeguard certified crew — and roundtrip transportation to and from Waikiki and Ko Olina hotels included, what more could you ask for?

North Shore Catamaran Charters

Proud to be the only whale watching tour servicing the idyllic North Shore of Oahu, North Shore Catamarans offers several types of exciting tours, including sunset tours, snorkeling tours (seasonal) and even a sun and moon cruise. The company’s unique sailing catamaran ensures a comfortable, smooth sailing experience upon which to enjoy a morning, afternoon or sunset whale watch tour. Or get super fancy and VIP treatment with a private Early Bird whale watch tour! Military and kamāʻaina pricing is proudly offered here as well

Learn more about North Shore Catamarans.

Ocean Joy Cruises

Ocean Joy Cruises offers its guests several sensational ocean adventures to choose among, including its Morning Calm Cruise, an Afternoon Adventure Cruise and a Sunset Cruise. Those aboard may look forward to breathtaking sightseeing along the famed Waianae Coast of Oahu (tours offered in both English and Japanese), small groups (never more than 12), high quality gear (if snorkel equipment is needed), spacious cabins, changing rooms, toilets, warm showers and much more. Transportation to and from your Waikiki hotel is also included.

Learn more about Ocean Joy Cruises.

Star of Honolulu

Touted as “Oahu’s best vessel for viewing whales,” the Star of Honolulu boats a
60’ high observation deck, 4 walk-around decks and 3 types of stabilizers, among other impressive attributes. Also lending to the Star of Honolulu’s trusted reputation is the friendly and professional crew of Naturalists that the company employs. Another unique facet for guests is the option for the majority of whale activities and packages to be catered to suit any schedule and budget — each with the Star of Honolulu’s Whale Sighting Guarantee.

Tradewinds Charters

Tradewind Charters Hawaii offers visitors and kamāʻaina private sailing cruises, fishing charters, sunset dinner sails, snorkeling tours, whale watching and dolphins swims, scenic sightseeing tours, weddings at sea, sea burial services and much more. For whale watching specifically, two trips per day depart from Honolulu and offer guests crystal blue waters, scenic island beauty and not-to-be-beat whale sightings.

See also: Whale Watching on Oahu – with tips on whale watching from shore