Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching

Experience Matters with Captain Dan McSweeney's Whale Watching
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Whale watching is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon when visiting the Hawaiian Islands. While there are many tour companies that offer a version of this service, there is only one that guarantees your experience, that being Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching tours. Benefit from his years of whale research and behavioral studies as he takes you to the hotspot of whale activity aboard the Lady Ann and shares detailed information about the beloved species. 

- The Local Expert Team

Prior to the time when whale watching became a popular pastime and notable tourist activity, Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching business has been defined by caring for the gentle giants of the sea. Conservationist, whale watching captain, and whale researcher, Captain Dan has studied whales and their behavior his entire life. His company, which has conducted internationally recognized whale adventures off the Honokohau Harbor for nearly four decades, has a motto, “do a good business, and do good work, protecting whales and their environment.” 

What makes Captain Dan McSweeney’s Whale Watching stand out is the experience of the captain himself and his dedication to the marine species overall. While there are many whale watching tour companies throughout the islands of Hawaii, there is only one Captain Dan McSweeney. He believes that whale watching as an add-on to other activities like rafting, diving, or snorkeling tours are only truly offering a “part-time” experience. These companies are not the most experienced navigators or tour guides when it comes to the whale watching specialty. Conversely, Dan McSweeny is the only full-time, guaranteed whale watching tour on the island that focuses only on seeing the magnificent humpback whales and native dolphin species and ensures guests have a fantastic and unforgettable experience in the process. This means that a sighting of a whale is guaranteed year-round, and if you don’t see a whale on your tour, you can come again for free! 

All whale tours with Captain Dan McSweeney take place on the specially designed “Lady Ann”. This comfortable ride features partially-shaded decks, backrests, cushioned seats, and even private restrooms. The company is USCG licensed and is focused on creating warm and personalized service with an optimal whale viewing experience. All tours include a set of hydrophones to allow you to hear the hypnotic and mysterious whale sounds, a free full-color Guide to All Hawaii’s Whales, free snack and juice, free 8×11 color whale photo (with direct booking), free parking when boarding the boat, and a priceless experience. All tours are called learning adventures because along with the entertainment element, Captain Dan aims to educate all tour participants on the habitat and behavior of the whales. 

Due to Captain Dan McSweeney’s years of experience studying the whales in the area, he can anticipate the habits and daily behavior of these wild creatures and place his tours in the optimal location for a great experience. While other tour companies might get lucky and come upon a whale, Captain  Dan actually knows where they will be at any given time. Captain Dan tours often venture to the whale sanctuary north of Kona Airport to find the most active pods of whales. Other tour companies stick closer to Kailua-Kona. 

The whale watching tour with Captain Dan McSweeney and his crew is truly a unique and life-changing experience. Unlike glimpsing a whale on your way to another activity, these tours focus on the whales, their natural environment, and their natural activity patterns. This means that you will be able to stop and watch them as they go through their daily routine, which allows you to see much more than you would with just a passing glance on the way to another destination. 

Whales are most active not just during a certain time of day but when they run into other whales. Therefore, a great deal of Captain Dan’s success is knowing the location of all the best whale hang-out spots, so he can show his tour guests the activity level of these beautiful creatures while they are congregating with one another and are therefore most active. He claims it doesn’t matter if you aim for a morning or afternoon tour, finding whale activity is just about finding the whales while they are with other whales, not necessarily about the time of day. 

Insider Tips:
-Keep your gear to a minimum on your tour but remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a camera. 
-Dress in light casual clothing with soft-soled shoes, such as sandals or sneakers. Some guests might also appreciate having a light windbreaker on hand.