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Kalamalama Home
Oahu whale-watching cruises: Caveat Emptor
by Robert Kaspo, Lifestyle editor

The Hawaiian Humpback whale visits the islands to breed and birth calves from November to April every year.

Oahu offers many whale-watching cruises where passengers have the opportunity to spot humpback whales, and other sea creatures, such as the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin.

Click on image for larger view.

Sometimes it is difficult to chose which whale-watching cruise is right for you. As a passenger, you want to know which cruise is the most affordable and which one gives the best service, including the activities offered. You have to consider that some whale-watching cruises don’t guarantee a whale will be spotted, but others do – although sometimes the “spotting” might be only a brief glimpse of a disappearing tail fin. Here is a short list of O‘ahu cruises that offers whale-watching opportunities.

Aikane Sport Fishing
This company uses a 44-foot Striker cruiser that takes up to six people. The Striker takes the passengers out to the Penguin Banks area, outside Diamond Head, for whale and dolphin watching, but the crew focuses mostly on sport fishing. Aikane Sport Fishing doesn’t offer any snorkeling, and it doesn’t guarantee any whales or dolphins during the cruise. The fishing equipment is included in the price. The Striker leaves the Hickam Harbor, near Pearl Harbor, at 6 a.m. The cost is $468 for 8 hours, and $624 for 12 hours, for up to six people.

Backpackers
Backpackers is a vacation inn. In order to use its services, you have to rent a room for at least one night (You can get one for as low as $15). Located at Hale‘iwa, Backpackers offers customers whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. These ocean activities are a separate cruise activity. Backpackers doesn’t guarantee any whale sighting. The boat is a 40-foot Catamaran that takes up to six people on its cruises. The whale watching is a 2.5-hour trip that cost $20. The boat leaves the Hale‘iwa Boat Harbor at 9:30 a.m.

Deep Ecology
The Deep Ecology organization uses a 40-foot boat that takes 10 to 15 people at a time. Deep Ecology offers passengers whale watching, dolphin sightseeing, and scuba diving. The whale watching and the scuba diving are separate cruises. Deep Ecology guarantees whales, or passengers get a “whale check,” which allows them a free trip for another whale-watching tour. The boat leaves the Hale‘iwa Boat Harbor at 9 a.m. The cost for whale watching is $59 for adults and $29 for children (ages 4-12).

The cost for scuba diving is $85 for 1-tank and $105 for 2-tanks.

Dolphin Excursions Hawai‘i
The Dolphin Excursions Hawai‘i offers whale watching, dolphin sightseeing, and snorkeling, all on the same cruise. The boat is a 23-foot Mark V inflatable rubber raft that takes up to 16 passengers. Snorkeling gear, flotation tube, and all safety equipment, as well as a picnic lunch and shuttle service from Waikiki hotels are included in the price. The Dolphin Excursions Hawai‘i guarantees their passengers whales or a “whale check.” The boat leaves from the Waianae Boat Harbor at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $70 for adults and $45 for children (ages 4-12) for a 3-hour trip.


North Shore Catamaran Charters
North Shore Catamaran Charters offer passengers whale watching, dolphin sightseeing, and snorkeling on the same cruise. The boat is a 40-foot Catamaran that holds up to six people. The crew guarantees whales or a “whale check.” The snorkeling equipment is included in the price. The trip is 2.5 hours and the boat leaves the Hale‘iwa Boat Harbor at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $35 per person.

Dream Cruises
Dream Cruises are located at Kewalo Basin Boat Harbor near Ala Moana. It offers passengers whale watching tours and guarantees whales or a “whale check.” Dream Cruises doesn’t offer snorkeling, scuba diving, or fishing. Dream Cruises uses a 100-foot Motor Yacht that holds up to 225 passengers. The boat leaves the harbor at 7:30 a.m. The cost for adults are $24.95, children 4 to 12 are $16.95, and children under 4 are free.

Wild Side Specialty Tours
This company uses a 32-foot sailboat that takes up to six passengers on a cruise for whale watching, dolphin sightseeing, fishing, and snorkeling, all in the same trip. Wild Side Specialty Tours doesn’t guarantee any whales or dolphins, but they do guarantee snorkeling and fishing. All the snorkeling and fishing equipment is included in the price. If dolphins are spotted, the crew allows the passengers to swim with the dolphins. Everyone in the crew is a licensed lifeguard and a certified marine biologist. The boat leaves the Waianae Boat Harbor at 7 a.m. Private Charters, half-day (four hours), $450 for up to six people, and full-day (seven hours), $650 for up to six people.

 

 

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