If spending a day chilling on a white sandy beach, or diving into the amazing blue cave are the best things to do in Okinawa during Summer time, then hopping on a boat to go on whale watching tours is a must during the winter.
Humpback whales migrate seasonally, traveling to cold polar waters during summer seasons and to warmer waters during winter seasons, and thanks for the warmth of the Okinawa waters during January to March each year, it makes it a great place for us to watch these gigantic mammals in action.
The humpback whales do not feed during the winter months, but breed, and the Okinawa waters is their ideal breeding grounds. During this season, whale breaching is seen often, showing dominance and power. (Though I did not see it myself)
There are many Whale Watching tours that operate in Okinawa, majority of them leaves from Naha or Chatan. However, as my hotel is in Onna area, I didn’t want to spend so much time driving back and forth, so I decided to join this smaller company called the “Onna Whale Watching Association” (恩納ホエールウオッチング協会). They are the one and only company that leaves from the area.
Our tour starts at 8:30am in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a small group, there was only about 11 people in total, which made the boat very spacious. We were handed out a flyer when we board the boat, which is a little introduction of the whales, and what behaviors are we expected to see. And because they are the only operator in the area, we pretty much had the whole water by ourselves, no need to fight with other boats.
It took us about an hour before we reached the breeding area. We waited for around 5 minutes, before we had our first encounter with the humpback whales. They were so close to us!!
We stayed and watch the whales for a bit over and hour, we were lucky enough to be able to spotted the whales many times, although we did not see them breach (I REALLY WANT TO!!), we did see two whales coming up at the same time, so that’s pretty awesome too!
If you are considering to visit Okinawa during January to March, be sure to book yourself a whale watching tour, it’s something you will not regret!
Onna Whale Watching Association (Japanese only)
– You can ask the hotel front desk to help you book
– The waves tend to be very big during this time of the season, remember to take the sea sick pills before boarding (Even if you don’t usually need it)