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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Wavecrest Resort - Wavecrest Resort on Molokai's east end.
Molokai
A116 - Wavecrest
7142 Kamehameha V Hwy
A116
Kaunakakai, HI 96748
Summary

Wavecrest is located on five beautiful waterfront acres with lush tropical landscaping 13 miles east of Kaunakakai town. This upgraded, quiet, oceanfront, 2 bedroom, 1 bath end unit is available nightly and weekly. Luxury linens decorate the King and Queen bed.

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Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu Exterior View
Oahu
Hard Rock Cafe - Honolulu
280 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Situated in the heart of Waikiki, Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu is conveniently located within walking distance to many resorts, shops, the Hawaii Convention Center, and iconic Waikiki beach. An open air venue which features veranda seating and a blue wave bar for a truly unique dining experience.

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Restaurant
Oahu
Shoreline Hotel Waikiki
342 Seaside Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Just about everything on Waikiki Beach has been discovered, except maybe Shoreline Waikiki Hotel. In the heart of Waikiki, and only seconds from Waikiki Beach, this peaceful hotel is your hidden sanctuary in Honolulu’s premier shopping and dining district.

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Ekahi Village Beach Pavilion & Main Pool
Maui
Maui A Place Apart
3300 Wailea Alanui Dr
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Ekahi Village- Beachfront low rise condominium village with Beach Pavilion, 4 Pools, Paddle Tennis & Shuffle Board on 34 acres. It sits on a mile-long sandy beach with beautiful sunsets, were you can walk to the Hotels for a Meal or luau. Discounts with Wailea Golf & Tennis clubs too!

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Relaxing outdoor pool and sundeck
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Sunset
229 Paoakalani Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Experience Hawaii condominium living in a quiet neighborhood setting at this contemporary property featuring one- and two-bedroom suites with the conveniences of a full service hotel. Within walking distance of Waikiki Beach, zoo, aquarium, and Kapiolani Park.

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Aerial View of Lahaina Shores Beach Resort
Maui
Lahaina Shores Beach Resort
475 Front Street
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Stay at the only beachfront hotel in Lahaina. Our family-friendly resort is near many Maui vacation hot spots including fine restaurants, Front Street shopping, art galleries, and various ocean activities. Choose from one of luxury condo rentals: studio or one-bedroom mountain/oceanfront suites.

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