Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii

Whale Watching

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Whale Watching in Hawaii

Just as our idyllic weather welcomes tourists from around the world, the warm and shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands are a favorite destination for kohola, or humpback whales. Scientists estimate that two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population return to Hawaii to breed, calve and nurse their young. They race more than 3,000 miles from the Gulf of Alaska to Hawaii, then stay for a lengthy vacation, frolicking just off our shores and delighting spectators from December through May. 

Adult males range from 40 to 52 feet and can weigh up to 45 tons. Despite their size, humpback whales are graceful acrobats. Keep your eye on the ocean and you might see one breach, propelling up to 40 percent of its body out of the water and landing on its side with a spectacular splash.   


Cultural Significance of Whales in Hawaii

Whales have great cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. They play a large role in Hawaiian legend—including one creation story—and appear in ancient petroglyphs on several islands. The return of the kohola (humpback whale) is considered more of a homecoming than a visit. Humpback whales are born in Hawaiian waters, making them kamaaina (native born). Some Native Hawaiians also believe the whales are aumakua (family guardians), so these gentle giants are treated with great respect. 


What's the Best Way to See Whales?

Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world. 

You may also spot kohola from the southern shores of Oahu, especially at Makapuu Lighthouse and along the seaside overlooks near Leahi (Diamond Head)

Kauai offers a range of whale-viewing opportunities, including Poipu Beach on the South Shore, Kilauea Lighthouse on the North Shore and Kapaa Overlook on the island’s Coconut Coast.

On the island of Hawaii, whales are often seen along the shores of the Kohala Coast, as well as Hilo Bay on the east side of the island. The Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is another great viewing spot, with its sweeping, elevated views near Kawaihae Harbor. In fact, Puukohola literally means “hill of the whale” in Hawaiian.

Boat tours may be your best option for viewing whales up close. Hawaii has dozens of tour operators, including a few that lead kayak excursions—a thrilling way to experience these majestic mammals.

In respect for the kohola and the safety of sightseers, all watercraft must stay a minimum of 100 yards from the whales, but you'll be surprised how close you feel when a 45-ton behemoth lunges out of the sea. If a boat tour is not for you, the whales’ impressive acrobatic displays are often visible from miles away. If you're on land, keep a pair of binoculars handy because you never know when you'll see a humpback’s spout (which can be 10–20 feet tall).

Whale Watching in Hawaii

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Safety Equipment - Always prepared, KHT provides specialty hiking equipment as needed!
Kauai
Kauai Hiking Tours
5485 Koloa Rd.
Unit #1692
Koloa, HI 96756
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Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.

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Kauai
Kauai Camper
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We are Kauai’s original camper van rental company, providing our renters with beautifully restored Volkswagen Westfalia full camper vans. We also offer a wide variety of tents, and camping supplies, including backpacking gear for hiking the Kalalau trail.

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Kauai
The Lodge at Kukuiula
2700 Ke Alaula St.
Koloa, HI 96756
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Kauai's most exclusive resort community featuring exclusive access to The Club at Kukuiula through our luxury home rentals. A haven of barefoot luxury on Kauai’s sunny south shore, The Lodge residences at Kukuiula are the destination for discerning travelers to Hawaii.

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Main Pool
Kauai
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, a Marriott Autograph Collection Resort
2641 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
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Koloa Landing Resort offers the islands largest and newest luxury accommodations; ranging from deluxe studios to multi-bedroom villas. The property is also home to a 350,000-gallon pool, celebrity chef poolside bar & grill collaboration, full-service day spa, and many more world-class amenities.

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3445 Wilcox Road
Kauai
Garden Island Inn
3445 Wilcox Road
Lihue, HI 96766
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Ranked #1 on Trip Advisor Lihue Hotels 5 years in a row. Our wonderful local, ACCOMMODATING staff will welcome and treat you with friendly KAUAI OHANA ALOHA! We do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to make YOU feel welcome and assist you with making your visit special.

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Villas on the Prince Pool
Kauai
Villas on the Prince
4141 Queen Emma Drive
Princeville, HI 96722
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Fabulous new townhouses with spacious, split-level design, offer lush golf course and dramatic mountain views. Come enjoy the Aloha Spirit on Kauai's north shore! You could just dream of Paradise or, this time, you can come and live in it!

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