Whale Watching in Japan: Humpbacks in Okinawa

Not bad for the first activity of my Okinawa trip. Off to the port we went Tuesday morning and got on board an Okinawa whale watching tour. I’ve been on a few in other parts of the world — Mexico, Patagonia — but this one delivered some serious gasps. I missed a lot of great photos, despite being rather close to several humpback whales in the waters between Naha on Okinawa and the Kerama Islands to the east, and brought back a lot of shots of a splash or a fellow traveler’s iPhone smack in the middle of a really close shot. But several of the whales breached, we got a lot of spouts and tail fins, and one humpback spent a couple minutes at the surface floating on its side and “waving” at us with its huge fin.

There’s a reason Okinawa is great for whale watching, explained our guide. When the mother has its calf, the calf hasn’t got the blubber protection yet for the very cold waters up near the Aleutian Islands. So the mother comes here to warmer seas to rear the calf. The mother whale nurses the calf without feeding herself and loses a lot of weight during this time. If you want to go whale watching in Okinawa, the season starts in late January and ends in late March.

And now on to the photos!













Kevin Revolinski

Author, travel writer/photographer, world traveler. Writes about travel, hiking, camping, paddling, and craft beer.

8 thoughts on “Whale Watching in Japan: Humpbacks in Okinawa

  • Wow! I haven’t seen whale in my life yet. Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences. You are a lucky man!

  • Bessie

    What a beautiful trip! Those are some great photos. I don’t know about in those waters, but between Mexico, US & Canada there is an org that what’s photos of whales’ tails to track their movements, and will tell you which whale it was and where it has been in recent months.

    • That’s pretty cool. I should try it. Do you have whale watching available where you’re at right now?

  • With whom did you go on your Whale Watching Tour? We used a Charter last year and it was fantastic. Unfortunately they moved to the other side of the island, the Pacific, where there aren’t any whales. They now specialize in Charters and Diving Tours only. We would love to go again this year, especially with a boat that knows what they’re doing. Sounds like the boat you chose delivered! Thanks in advance.

    • We had about 40 people on the boat. I think this is the company’s website but all in Japanese of course. Total Marine Spot They were safe and good (or very lucky, of course). No one spoke to us in English but we were 2 of 40 and had our own personal guide for a few days.

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  • Hi,

    Will be in Okinawa in mid Nov. Will there be any whale to watch? If yes, how can I make the booking?


    • Hi Tang, You might be too early but the tour boats may tell you otherwise. The best season is end of December through March.


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