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Whale Watch North Shore

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Whale watching (seasonal)

3 Options to Choose From (Morning, Afternoon, or Sunset)

Morning or Afternoon Whale Watching:

Sailing along the beautiful Coast of the North Shore and watching the giant humpback whales is something you do not want to miss while visiting Hawaii.

North Shore Catamaran Charters was chosen as the best whale watching on Oahu because of it’s personalized attention, uncrowded boat, and fun and informative crew. During whale watching season the ocean boils with activity from the humpback whales and marine life.

The Ho’o Nanea is the perfect boat for whale watching. It is just the right size to keep you close to the ocean, but big enough to be a safe and stable viewing platform. There are very few whale watching tours in Haleiwa; as a matter of fact, we are the only commercial sailing catamaran on the whole North Shore. You will not find a gaggle of boats competing for whales. Avid and apathetic whale watchers alike would both agree that sailing the North Shore of Oahu in search of whales is done best on the Sailing Cat.

The whales do not get frightened or disturbed by our boat because most of the time we are under sail. When we do motor, the small outboard engines are very quiet and unobtrusive. Our underwater hydrophone lets you hear the singing, clicking and moaning that goes on between the groups of humpbacks. It is a truly amazing experience!

Sunset Whale Watching Sail:

The North Shore Catamaran Sunset Sail is a casual and down-to-earth occasion. The Ho’o Nanea is a very safe and stable sailing catamaran that lets you relax and stay dry, without sacrificing the feeling of being close to the ocean. This is not a fancy dinner cruise–no dress code, no hula dancers, no tiki torches and umbrella topped daiquiris being crammed down your throat–just the typical understated North Shore atmosphere of friends getting together to enjoy an evening out on the ocean.

Complimentary water is provided for guests.  You are welcome to bring your own alcoholic beverages.  The crew and captain will check the identification of individuals with alcoholic beverages.

The sunset hours are a magical time to be out on the water. With the winds calm, the sun turns golden and paints the sky in a palette of hues and colors that seem almost unreal. There is no way you cannot be taken by it. The clean ocean air, vast sky and unbelievable sunset colors swill connect you with nature and give you a feeling of relaxation and happiness that most people don’t get to experience anymore.  A sunset sail will help you calm your mind and let you breath again.  So come join us and reset your senses!

About Humpback Whales

In order to fully appreciate Hawaii whale watching, it helps to have some basic knowledge about humpback whales. Whales are air-breathing mammals. As they surface they exhale strongly which shows as a powerful “spout”. When they dive down, showing us their massive flukes as they glide beneath the water, they leave behind a disturbance in the water called a “foot print”. Of course the most spectacular sight is a breaching humpback, where the whale propels its massive body out of the water, rotates sideways in the air and hits the surface in an explosion of water. Fighting males put on a great show to impress the females and to intimidate their opponents. They head butt and charge each other, leap, splash and posture in a wild display of mating behaviors.

Hawaiian Humpback Whales

Hawaiian Humpback Whales, or Na Kohola, as they are called in Hawaii, are a very important part of the Hawaiian marine ecosystem and a long standing icon in native Hawaiian culture.

Winter Breeding in Hawaii

At North Shore Catamaran Charters, it is our goal to help you experience the spectacular and best whale watching Hawaii has to offer, while providing education about the behavior of humpback whales and their natural environment. We keep a respectful distance to the whales. Hawaiian waters are the whales’ winter breeding grounds, a place the humpback whales should find to be a peaceful environment with little harassment by humans. However, oftentimes, the whales are the curious ones and decide to check out the boat. They can come right next to us and hover for a few minutes for some “human watching”. On the Ho’o Nanea you will be only feet away from these gentle giants.

About Other Marine Species

There are many species of cetaceans (83 to be exact), which range from the small, four foot Hectors Dolphin, to the awe-inspiring Blue Whale (at 100 feet, the largest animal ever to live). The two types of whales include odontocetes (toothed whales) and mysticetes (baleen whales). The toothed whales include sperm whales, killer whales, beaked whales, and all porpoises and dolphins. Most toothed whale species feed on food such as fish and squid. However, they can also be predators on whales, seals, sea lions and small dolphins. Baleen whales consume large quantities of both food and water, and then “strain” the food out through their baleen, which is like a filter in their mouth. The result is the whale catches thousands of small fish and krill.

Examples of baleen whales include blue, gray and humpback whales. The humpback whale is grayish-black in color, and has white marking that are specific to each individual whale. The humpback whale is the fifth largest of the world’ great whales. The newborn calves weigh an average of 1.5 tons at birth, and are 10-15 feet long. A mature humpback whale weight up to 80,000 pounds and are around 44 feet long. The oldest known humpback whale was 48 years old and the largest was 83ft long.

You will never forget your time spent with these majestic humpback whales of Hawaii.

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Special Feature:
Morning or AfternoonAdult
Click the "book it" button to see other rates, live availability schedule, pickup times and/or check in locations (when applicable).
Frequently Asked Questions
We operate out of Haleiwa Harbor, on the North Shore of Oahu. We sail along the North Shore and out into the deeper waters. We do not circumnavigate Oahu or sail around to the West Side. This would be a very long sail with rough upwind sailing on the way home.
The humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from December to May every year. Whale watching tours in Hawaii are during these months. Exact start and finish of the season varies each year, depending on when the whales make their migration.
You will see breaches blows anywhere from miles away to a hundred yards off the side of the boat. Sometimes even closer, but that would be only if the whales move in on their own for a closer look. We always do our best to provide you with a great vantage point for observation without harassment to the whales, as the coast surrounding the Hawaiian Islands is supposed to be their peaceful winter sanctuary. And being chased and herded by motor boats is not the whales idea of fun.
We often see dolphins, but not every day. Like all wild animals, it is up to them when they want to be seen. On lucky days they will come right up to the boat and play.
Catamarans are smoother riding than single hulled vessels. Our 40' catamaran, the Ho'o Nanea, is the perfect size for a Hawaii sailing adventure. The sailing catamaran is Coast Guard certified for 21 passengers, and all of our tours are a max passenger count of 19. With this intimate group, we are able to give all of our passengers customized service
Of course! We have special rates for children. Whale watching in Hawaii is a wonderful family adventure. It is also a great educational experience for all members of the family.
We do not recommend bringing toddlers and small children under 4 yrs or age. Our catamaran is very stable, but has open railings and does sway up and down with the waves. Moving about the boat safely requires holding on with at least one hand, which can be hard when holding a small child.
Our catamaran is very stable and few people get seasick. However, if you are prone to sea sickness, or have never been on a boat, it would be wise to take a sea sickness preventative at least one hour before the trip.
Absolutely. The harbor is surrounded by beautiful public beaches. The harbor is located within walking distance of lots of great shops and site seeing in Haleiwa town.
Click on the red "Book It" button and you will see live availability. Keep in mind availability changes constantly, so make sure to book in advance!
H Tours Hawaii is a "one stop shop" for all the best activities in the Hawaiian Islands. Since we work with many providers, reservations are necessary. WE HIGHLY recommend making reservations, as many activities are at a discount when you reserve in advance. Some providers even charge higher for those "walking in" because they know chances are you're not going to walk away. Finally, a reservation ensures you have a space on the tour. Trust us you don't want to spend so much time and money to come to Hawaii and then miss out on an activity because they were booked out!
Choose the tour you are interested in, click the red “Book It” button adjacent to the tour information, and complete the booking form.
Most companies, if not all, require you to call them if you're trying to book something 2-3 days in advance. Do you really want to be spending your valuable time in Hawaii calling around to desperately find something that is available to do? While we can usually accommodate most last-minute bookings, we highly encourage those that are checking out our website far in advance to book 2-3 weeks prior to desired date. You never know if there's a convention, special event, or an increase in overall visitors in town, and it would be a shame if the activities that you want to do are sold out because you waited until the last minute. Basically, if you know you want to do it, just book it!
Gratuity is never required but if you enjoyed your experience, a tip is always greatly appreciated!
Morning is best, day is not really an issue. February and March seem to be the best months, but it varies by year.
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Payment & Cancellation
Cancellation Policy: Custom policy
  • Cancellations made 1 days before Date & Time will be fully refunded.
  • Cancellations made at a later date will not be refunded.
Terms & Conditions
  • See booking page for exact terms, conditions, & cancellation policy details
5 reviews, 0 comments
Was the tour accurately described on the webiste? In other words did it meet your expectations?
(5.0 of 5)
This was an amazing tour. The Captain and Nicole were excellent hosts and the whales were everywhere. Our group was epic and everyone was calling out spouts and breaches. We had a wonderful time and can't wait to join this crew again. Thank you for a spectacular morning. Julie and Barb
My boyfriend and I took this tour today. It started off a lil slow and we were worried we would only see them blowing water, but things picked up! We saw 20-40 breaches by whales & had two schools of dolphins of 15-20 swim along with our boat for at least 10 min at a crack! It was so exciting! Def worth the $. Bring your camera or go pro so u can video some of it. The crew was laid back. We had Nicole ... moreand captain Z. They were really knowledgeable but very chill. Asked them all sorts of questions and one of them knew the answer every time. Beautiful trip. Maybe take some Dramamine before and wear a hat & sunscreen. Bring some $$ to tip them after!
My best friend and I came out for a sunset cruise this last week and had a blast. The boat was amazing and the people running the business were very nice. Some of the best service I have had on north shore! We were able to spot a few whales while out on the water. We ended up coming back the next day to check out the new water boots! This was honestly the most amazing thing I have done living on oahu ... morefor the last year and a half! I will no doubt be back again as soon as they will have us! For those of you that have never tried it make sure you stop out! I am afraid of heights and had so much fun I never wanted to stop! Thanks again!
My family and I somehow lucked out and were the only ones on the sunset sail last night. What an experience! Captain Z and Nicole were not only accommodating and knowledgeable, but also funny and extremely charming. It felt more like a sailing trip with friends! Highly, highly recommend--especially if you've already "experienced" the sailing tours thru Waikiki--a booze cruise this is thankfully not. ... moreCan't wait to go again on my next visit to the North Shore.
Awesome crew, great boat, lots of whales. We saw a family not 5 feet from the boat. Highly recommend! !!!!