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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Tiki's Grill & Bar Logo
Oahu
Tiki's Grill & Bar
2570 Kalakaua Ave
in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Tiki's Grill & Bar features tastes of the Islands through a balance of American and Pacific-Rim fare for lunch and dinner, using fresh local produce & products. Tiki's offers lanai seating with beautiful sunset views of famous Waikiki Beach accompanied by nightly live entertainment and retro decor.

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Kataifi and Macadamia Nut Encrusted Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns
Oahu
Chef Chai
1009 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Award winning Hawaii's regional cuisine. Home of Hawaii's best entertainers including the Brothers Cazimero, Jerry Santos and Jake Shimabukuro. Dine in a beautiful surrounding, and experience top rate service and Aloha at Chai's Island Bistro.

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Restaurant
Maui
Japengo Maui
200 Nohea Kai Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Serving up world-class steaks, seafood and sushi, Japengo at Hyatt Regency Maui provides Hawaii’s freshest, locally-grown products and exotic Pacific Rim cuisine. Enjoy Japengo’s indoor and outdoor seating overlooking Ka’anapali Beach, or watch as sushi is rolled to order in the chic Sushi Lounge. 

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Don the Beachcomber Restaurant View
Hawaii
Don The Beachcomber
75-5852 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

The open-air Don the Beachcomber signature restaurant located at the Royal Kona Resort features a prime oceanfront setting with spectacular sunset views. Choose from succulent Pacific Fusion, Prime Rib and seafood specialties.

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bills Waikiki
Oahu
bills | Waikiki
280 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

The fresh flavours of Sydney's stylish surf bars meet the relaxed island vibe of Hawaii at Australian restaurateur Bill Granger's all day casual eatery. Enjoy joyful, barefoot-from-the-beach dining with a menu inspired by the local tropical produce.

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Diamond Head Deck
Oahu
Sky Waikiki
2270 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Hawaii’s premier RoofTop Bistro, Lounge and Nightclub, located 19 stories above the heart of Waikiki. Enjoy breath-taking views of Oahu’s picturesque sunsets & the clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean on a wrap around lanai. Indulge in a signature cocktail, tapas menu, and live music.

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Oahu
Roy's Waikiki
226 Lewers Street
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine blends fresh local ingredients with European sauces and bold Asian spices, always with a focus on seafood. Each evening you’ll find a tantalizing range of appetizers, entrées, fresh fish dishes and desserts.

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Maui
Ko Restaurant
4100 Wailea Alanui Drive
Wailea Maui, HI 96753
Summary

Ko offers cuisine reflective of the many cultures of Hawaii's sugarcane plantation era. The menu is inspired by the rich history and culinary traditions of Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese cultures.

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