Where and When To Go For Peak Whale Watching Seasons

Where and When To Go For Peak Whale Watching Seasons

From Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s NEW “Kohola in Kā’anapali Package” that donates a portion of its proceeds to Maui-based Whale Trust, to private helicopter tours in British Columbia and access to Dana Point Harbor, the dolphin and whale watching capital of the world – the below hotels and resorts boast unforgettable experiences and jaw-dropping views of the ocean during this coveted time of year.

Hawaii - Best Months for Whale Watching: December - April

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa | Kā’anapali, Maui, Hawaii

With 10,000+ humpback whales (“kohola” in Hawaiian) migrating to Maui's warm waters each winter, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is the prime location for whale watching, offering unrivaled views overlooking the pristine blue ʻAuʻau channel. This area becomes the most protected humpback whale playground in Hawaii, also known as “whale soup.” Guests can witness the majestic humpback whales spouting and breaching offshore with Sheraton Maui Resort’s NEW Kohola in Kaanapali package, which is available for booking now with travel between Dec. 15, 2022 – April 15, 2023. A portion of proceeds from every package booked benefits Whale Trust, the Maui-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to conduct, support and promote scientific research on whales and the marine environment. Daily rate starts at $859++ (rate code YX1). The Kohola in Kaanapali package includes Moana Oceanfront accommodations for two along with:

  • Welcome amenity with cooler & snacks, two beach towels and Raw Elements reef safe sunscreen
  • Binoculars and bubbles in-room – choice of four sparkling waters or seltzers, and binoculars for guests to enjoy from their lanai
  • Two Moana yoga mats to use on the oceanfront lawn space with prime views of whales spouting and breaching.
  • Maui s’mores kit for roasting at Moana’s oceanfront fire pits during sunset
  • Two signed keepsake books, “Among Giants: A Life with Whales” and “Humpbacks: Unveiling the Mysteries,” written and photographed by co-founders of Whale Trust, the Maui-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to conduct, support, and promote scientific research on whales and the marine environment.

(Image above: Whale Season at Sheraton Maui - Photo Courtesy of Island Dream Productions)

Four Seasons Resort Lanai | Lanai City, HI

During peak whale watching season, the waters around Lanai offer a haven for North Pacific humpback whales. Guests can watch numbers of whales breaching above the water during the season on the Lanai Whale Watch Expedition. Spot these fascinating mammals during a sailing adventure from a 360-degree viewing platform, and listen through a hydrophone to hear them sing. Lucky beachgoers and guests can also spot whales from the resort and golf course which both overlook Hulopoe Bay.

Hotel Wailea (Relais & Châteaux) | Wailea, HI

Hotel Wailea's privateHawaiian Outrigger Canoeing Adventure invites guests to watch majestic humpback whales while paddling along Maui’s southern coastline past black lava outcroppings, golden sand beaches and the Haleakala volcano rising up in the distance. Available December through April, the 1.5 hour experience takes guests to the Maui Nui Basin where they can respectfully greet and honor the visiting humpback whales and participate in traditional Hawaiian chants. Price: $150/person

Prince Waikiki | Honolulu, HI 

Situated at the gateway into Waikiki, Prince Waikiki is an upscale hotel that offers a picture perfect marina setting — quintessential for those looking to whale watch. With floor-to-ceiling windows in every room and suite, on top of a partnership with The Vida Mia, guests can expect an experience to happen both on and off property. Wake up and be on the lookout from your very own room, or take just a few steps off property to the docks and board the fully restored antique 61-foot wooden yacht for a seasonal whale watching tour, morning coffee tour, sunset cruise, and more.

California + Mexico - Best Months for Whale Watching: January - April

Surf & Sand Resort | Laguna Beach, CA

Find pure bliss at Surf & Sand Resort, sitting right on Laguna beach’s shoreline where the waves of the Pacific meet 500 feet of pristine white sand. Now is the best time to avoid summer crowds and explore the charming village of Laguna Beach, where guests can find one-of-a-kind boutiques, galleries and outstanding dining, while watching whales nearly 65 feet from the shore, either swimming to Baja to have their calves or on their way north to feed. A leader in coastal luxury, Surf & Sand Resort offers truly fresh coastal fare at signature restaurant Splashes, refreshing spa treatments at Aquaterra Spa, an elevated oceanfront pool, complimentary beachfront fitness and, best of all, the serene sound of waves crashing beneath each guest room’s private balcony.

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa | Dana Point, CA

Perched high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa is a picturesque Victorian-style resort overlooking the California Coastline and Dana Point Harbor. The iconic red-roofed coastal retreat is the perfect homebase for whale watching — as it’s located in the heart of the Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World®. Guests can head down to Dana Point Harbor for an arranged tour, available year-round, to spot different species of whales depending on the time of year. Gray whales make for one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles from above Northern California, through the Pacific Ocean, towards Baja California. Of course, this means the gray whale migration passes right through Dana Point, making for incredible whale watching.

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal | Cabo San Lucas, MX

Situated on Cabo San Lucas’ most coveted parcel of land – an extraordinary, 24-acre site at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula – Mexico’s #1 resort Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal’s beachfront location and secluded beach make it the perfect location to see plenty of whales just a few meters off the coastline. Perched cliffside, all suites boast private balconies and plunge pools from which guests can spot the migration of hundreds of whales from the Arctic to the sparkling waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula. Guests can also take advantage of the property’s private yacht tours and Beyond The Beach curated itineraries, where they can swim with whale sharks or go whale watching from the sea.

Conrad Punta de Mita | Riviera Nayarit, MX 

Situated among the area’s serene natural landscapes and aquamarine waters, the new-build Conrad Punta de Mita delivers an inspired beach vacation – the Conrad way. Thrillseekers and adventurers are invited to discover life on the waves under the Riviera Nayarit sun on Conrad Punta de Mita’s two miles of unspoiled beachfront with surfing, luxury sunset sailing, private snorkel tours, deep-sea fishing, whale watching and more. Western Mexico hosts one of the world’s magnificent wildlife spectacles: the annual whale migration. Hundreds of humpback, blue, sperm, and other whales leap, spout, and dive as they follow our shore. Watch these majestic creatures from close range on a private boat tour — and don’t forget your camera.

Marquis Los Cabos | Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Located directly on the tip of Baja California Sur, Marquis Los Cabos sits beachfront where the desert mountains meet the Sea of Cortez. The all-suite, adults only AAA Four Diamond resort offers stunning views at every corner of the property, boasting unmatched, unhindered views of whales as they migrate for the season. As temperatures remain balmy from the mid-70s to mid-80s, guests can relax in the luxury of the infinity-edge Sunset and Sunrise pools while gazing upon whales and dolphins splashing about in the horizon, or take things a step further by booking the dedicated Marine Safari: Whale Watching Tour package, which includes one Whale Watching + Arch Tour, round trip transfer to/from Cabo San Lucas Cabos Marinaall and Marquis Los Cabos, and all food and beverage during the tour when booking accommodations at the property (including its all-inclusive amenities). Taxes and charges include. View room rates here.

Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa | Mexico 

Located on a sandy strip between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay lies Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, where guests can expect tropical weather year-round. Fun in sun is in full force at this mountain-meets-ocean resort with Puerto Vallarta’s largest infinity pool, snorkeling, kayaking and once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters. From December to March, humpback whales sing their harmonious whale song along Banderas Bay as part of their courtship ritual, and Marriott Puerto Vallarta guests have a front row seat - whales can often be spotted right from the resort’s balconies! For information or to book, visit www.puertovallartamarriott.com.

Thompson Zihuatanejo | Mexico 

Every March, musicians from around the world fill the streets and beaches of Zihuatanejo with their distinctive sounds and styles at the 19th annual Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival. The community-run music event will feature a series of concerts from March 4-11th at various locations in this longtime creative hideaway and sleepy fishing village in Mexico. Visitors looking to hear a combination of guitar chords and lapping waves can relax at the boutique beachfront Thompson Zihuatanejo. The hotel supports the local art scene by inviting musicians to perform on a regular basis during dinner and for special pop up experiences, as well as hosts a Market Night offering a piece of beach for local artisans to share their wares with guests. In addition to the music, Zihuatanejo is designated as an official whale watching zone, and visitors can look for the migration of humpback and gray whales returning north with their newborns in tow in March. The gentle giants have become a symbol of pride that represents the strength and unity of all the inhabitants of this naturally beautiful destination. Enjoy year-round tropical weather at this off the beaten beach hotel, idyllic for those seeking laidback luxury and their own personal piece of paradise along the Pacific. Visit Thompsonhotels.com/Zihua.

Canada, East Coast and The Caribbean: - Best Months for Whale Watching: June-September

Chatham Inn, Relais & Châteaux | Chatham, MA

Recently awarded a 2022 Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award, Chatham Inn, Relais & Châteaux is an 18-room, adults-only inn located in the heart of the Cape just steps away from the sounding shoreline that makes home to the magnificent Humpback, Fin, Pilot, Minke and Right whales. Step aboard a 33’ Intrepid with Chatham Inn’s Private Whale Watch package where guests can embark on an unforgettable nautical tour in the heart of the Cape’s waters, with sights of the Nantucket Sound, Monomoy Island, and Chatham’s coastline as you watch for these beautiful creatures. The Private Whale Watch package includes approximately a 2 1/2 hour private whale watching tour and a bottle of ZD Chardonnay.

Sonora Resort (Relais & Châteaux) | BC, Canada

On theHelicopter, Whale & Glacier Tour, guests can expect to fly in a private helicopter over the lush forests and churning waters of Vancouver Island and Johnstone Strait to Port McNeill, where they’ll board a 55ft passenger vessel for an incredible wilderness viewing of Orca and Humpback whales, Pacific White-Sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, Harbor seals, Steller sea lions, Bald eagles and a variety of other birds. The journey is narrated by experienced wilderness guides and safety equipment, binoculars and hydrophone headsets are provided. On their return journey to Sonora, they’ll soar over glacier fjords and snow-covered peaks, enjoying the breathtaking views. Guests have the option to extend the tour and touch down on a glacier or remote mountain top to take in the 360° view and enjoy a light snack. Price: $2,750 (CAD) per person ($2,120 USD)

Secret Bay (Relais & Châteaux) | Dominica 

In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, guests get up close and personal with whales in their natural habitat. This immersive, in-water whale experience, which requires a specific permit regulated by the maritime authorities, is led by specially licensed and experienced guides. These guides have invested decades studying and becoming intimately acquainted with Dominica’s resident sperm whale population, the largest predator on earth, reaching up to 70 feet/21 meters long, and weighing 60 tons, and are experts at knowing how to behave safely and respectfully in their company.