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Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Telephone (808) 325-5556

Kona Whale Watching Excursions

Whale and dolphin watching boat charters are available upon demand year-round and can be booked on a shared, per person basis (3½ hr. trip) or exclusively (4 hr. trip) where only you, your family or group have the whole boat. Please note there is a 6 passenger maximum aboard Spinner per USCG regulations.

Humpback whales are the focus of our attention from December thru May when they are here in abundant numbers. The rest of the year is spent observing our resident pods of Pilot whales, dolphins, and other toothed whales.

Spinner and Juvenile Humpback Tail in Kona

Whale and dolphin watching boat charters aboard my 31’ Bertram sportfisher Spinner are always led by me. I am the owner and sole operator of Living Ocean Adventures. My formal education, ecological research training, and 35 years experience on Kona waters have combined to produce my unique approach to each charter.

Depending upon what treasures the ocean has for us each day, a charter can become a wide-ranging learning adventure. And, with a maximum of just 6 passengers on board, I’m able to personalize each trip allowing you ample opportunity to talk with me and explore your interests.

7:00 AM

HUMPBACK WHALES - December thru May

The magnificent Humpback whales begin showing up in Hawaiian waters in December, having migrated from their North Pacific summer feeding grounds. They typically remain until spring, circulating throughout the islands, mating and giving birth to their young, then migrate back north to the Gulf of Alaska and their food sources.

Their favored habitat while in the Hawaiian Islands is water less than 600 feet in depth, which puts them quite close to our Kona coastline. On a typical trip, we depart Honokohau Harbor and turn North along the Kona coast to the Big Island’s Humpback Whale Sanctuary where the Humpbacks tend to congregate in larger numbers than elsewhere. We often have our first whale sighting within 10-minutes of leaving the harbor. These shallow waters offer not only higher concentrations of Humpback whales—including mothers with their newborn calves—but also opportunities to observe some of Hawaii’s diverse tropical reef-life such as Spinner dolphins, sharks, turtles, Manta Rays, and birds.

During the Humpback whale watching season, exclusive, 4-hour charters will have the option of trolling a couple of fishing lures while we’re traveling along the coast. These near shore waters produce Ono, Mahi Mahi, and small Tuna. When we catch one I will fillet it for your eating enjoyment.

WHALES - June thru November

As spring arrives and the Humpback whales leave Hawaiian waters for their North Pacific feeding grounds, my attention turns offshore to our resident marine mammals—principally Pilot whales; Bottlenose, Spotted, and Rough-Toothed dolphins; Beaked whales; False Killer whales; and the smaller Melon-Headed and Pygmy Killer whales.

Operating out of Honokohau Harbor on the Kona coast offers us a truly special and unique opportunity to observe these mammals. Heading straight out of the harbor, within 20 minutes we have entered their preferred deep sea habitat. By that point the ocean is already 1 mile deep, making their food supply of squid and pelagic fish readily available. Additionally, Kona’s gentle winds and calm seas that extend well offshore typically provide us with an excellent spotting and observing environment as well as comfortable boat conditions. This pelagic ocean environment also holds Kona’s famous Pacific Blue Marlin, Ahi (Tuna), and other big game sport fish.  To enhance our offshore experience I run 2 fishing lines to entice them. When we catch a good eating fish I fillet it for your eating enjoyment. I release all caught Marlin to help sustain the population. 

Captain Tom Bottrell

Whales and Dolphins you are likely to see in Kona Waters:

  • Whales: Humpback, Sperm, Pilot, Beaked, False Killer, Melon-Headed, and Pygmy Killer
  • Dolphins: Spinner, Bottlenose, Spotted, and Rough-Toothed

Humback Males Chasing Female

Mating pod of 1 female Humpback whale pursued by 6 males

Spinner Dolphin Watching with Living Ocean Adventures

Hawaiian Spinner dolphins come close to shore during daylight hours to rest after feeding offshore in deep waters at night. During these resting periods the Spinners need to be exposed to a minimum of harassment from human viewing activities in order to be fully rested for their return to the feeding grounds that night.

This is why, in my 35+ years of showing Spinner dolphins to my clients, I have never put anyone in the ocean with them.

NOAA’s Dolphin Smart program came to the Hawaiian Islands in 2011 to aid in promoting responsible viewing of wild dolphins. They have this same policy as one of their fundamental tenets.

By viewing Spinner dolphins from aboard my boat and not in the ocean amongst them, disturbing their rest, Living Ocean Adventure clients will know they are acting as responsible stewards of these beautiful animals and are helping to ensure the long term health of Hawaii’s Spinner dolphin population.

Combination Whale & Dolphin Watching

and Sport Fishing

I run fishing lines for all exclusive charters year-round when whale watching, and also during shared charters May thru November when searching for Pilot whales and dolphins. This gives you the opportunity to experience both sport fishing and whale watching in one trip.

A Charter of Fun for the Whole Family

April thru September we can fish for 5-20 lb Tuna, as well as Mahi Mahi and Ono while still being able to spend time watching the acrobatics of the Spinner dolphins along our beautiful Kona coast.

Pilot Whales Resting

Pilot Whales Resting

Living Ocean Adventures

Pilot Whale

Pilot Whale

Juvenile Humpback in Kona

Juvenile Humpback

Humpback Whale Breech

Humpback Whale Breech

Mating Pod of Humpback Whales

Mating pod

Big Ono

Big Ono

Juvenile Humpback - Kona

Juvenile Humpback

Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin

Exclusive 4-hour Charters

Planet Whale Partner
Living Ocean Adventures is a Partner of Planet Whale, the world’s largest online search engine for whale and dolphin watching trips. The Planet Whale partnership includes commercial Whale and Dolphin Watch Operators, Cetacean Conservation Organizations and individuals with a shared passion and goal: to develop a high quality, sustainable whale watching industry that will benefit whales, dolphins and the people that spend their lives with them.