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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Queens' MarketPlace
Hawaii
Queens' MarketPlace
69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

With an eclectic mix of shops and locally-owned boutiques, galleries, a top-rated salon and day spa, notable restaurants, a popular food court, a luxury cinema, and an anchor grocery store, Queens’ MarketPlace is the gathering place of the Kohala Coast.

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Ko Olina Resort
Oahu
Ko Olina Resort
92-1480 Aliinui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Ko Olina continues to set new standards for luxury vacation resorts with its mix of like-minded resort partners that include Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; and the Beach Villas at Ko Olina.

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Waikiki Aquarium Logo
Oahu
The Waikiki Aquarium
2777 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Admission prices: $12 Adults, $5 Children (4-12), FREE Children 3 & under, $8 Kamaaina, $8 Active Duty Military, $5 Seniors(65+), $5 persons with disabilities, FREE Fowa Members. 2019 marks the 115th anniversary of the aquarium making the Waikiki Aquarium the 2nd oldest in the United States

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TPI Pool
Maui
The Plantation Inn
174 Lahainaluna Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Maui's Boutique Bed and Breakfast is nestled in the heart of historic Lahaina Town. This 18 room inn with turn-of-the-century style is footsteps from the ocean. It has antique charm combined with modern amenities where guests experience its quiet grace.

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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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Relax at the Ocean's Edge
Maui
Mahina Surf
4057 L. Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

West Maui's best kept secret! One and two bedroom condominiums located on the ocean's edge. This low-rise property is surrounded with lush tropical lawns and gardens. Each condo has a full size kitchen and an oceanfront lanai.

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Sports Bar & Grill
Lanai
Sports Bar & Grill
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
One Manele Bay Road
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

This open-air sports bar with dramatic views of the ocean offers a lively social atmosphere to gather and mingle. Guests can enjoy pool and other table games or relax with their favorite sports program, broadcast on the Lounge's 46-inch LCD television.

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Tiki's Fresh Island Fish and Ocean Views
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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