Posted by: Anna Webb | January 4, 2010

Prime Whale Watching in Lower Puna

The newest black sand beach on Earth at Kaimu

Whale watching is a fun and relaxing past time whether you are a resident or visitor to Hawaii’s Big Island. And, in lower Puna, whale watching is special for a very specific reason; the depth of the water. Merely 60 feet off the coast, ocean depth drops to between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. This enables whales to swim very close to the shoreline.

The view is great to whale watch all over Big Island, but it’s special to be able to view them close up. All along Rt. 137, fondly referred to as the Red Road, there are pull-off points where you can set up folding chairs or loungers and settle in for a nice afternoon picnic. Last evening, I ventured out to the newest black sand beach on earth at Kaimu (where Rt. 130 and Rt. 137 intersect) and spent about an hour sitting on the black sand. I saw a couple of whales spouting and making their way toward the lava entry point. Visitors, locals and a couple of surfers joined in on the fun.

Whale Tail

Another great spot to see whales “up close and personal” is the Kahakai Park at the end of Kahakai Blvd. in the Hawaiian Beaches/Hawaiian Shores Subdivision just outside of Pahoa Town. Turn onto Kahakai Blvd. by the new Long’s Drugs on Rt. 130 and follow it until it ends at the park.

Whale Breaching

Whales make their way down to Hawaii from Alaska to breed and arrive in November. They usually stay until April. The whales can put on quite the show breaching (jumping out of the water) and slapping their tails above water. Look for spouts off shore and they will likely come up for a bit of play or at least their backs will emerge as they swim along. Sometimes they’ll have a “conversation” and it will echo off the cliffs of the coastline. There is nothing as mesmerizing as listening to “live” whale song.

There are boat tours available to see the lava flow and participants are likely to spot whales on their ride, as well.

Below are links to areas where you may wish to visit to whale watch.

Map of Big Island. Puna district lower right of map. Lower Puna is considered the area all along the coast and up around the very eastern tip.

New Kaimu Black Sand Beach

Looking from Kaimu Black Sand Beach inland toward the Pu’u’O’o vent at Kilauea. The steam coming off the hill to the left is the lava flow coming down toward the ocean.

Puna coast along Red Road (Rt. 137)

Red Road drive

Ahalanui Beach Park (known as warm ponds)


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