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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Colors by the Bay
Lanai
Mike Carroll Gallery
443 Seventh Street
#630645
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Nestled in the lush heart of unspoiled Lana`i, discover this gallery of paradise-inspired pieces by award-wining artist Mike Carroll and his guest artists. Just minutes from the resort in historic Lana'i City, you'll find paintings, prints, woodwork, photography, jewelry, Asian antiques, and more!

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Maui
Outlets of Maui
900 Front Street
A203
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
Summary

The Outlets of Maui are the only outlets in the world on the oceanfront in a historic resort location. The center serves the shopping needs of local residents and the island's 2.9 million annual westbound and eastbound visitors.

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Hinana Bar
Oahu
Hinana Bar
100 Holomoana St
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Refreshing beverages and a select casual dining menu let you relax and enjoy your time in the sun to the fullest. Lounge or plunge...our staff is on hand to help you make the most of your poolside experience.

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Na Pali Sail
Kauai
Blue Dolphin Charters
4353 Waialo Road
Port Allen, HI 96705
Summary

No visit to Kauai is complete without an adventure on Na Pali Coast! Blue Dolphin Charters is proud to run the two largest motor sailing catamarans on Kauai specializing in tours of Na Pali Coast and the forbidden island of Niihau. Let our outstanding crew make your trip an unforgettable experience!

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Serendipity in Waikiki
Oahu
Captain Bruce Yacht Charters
2250 Kalakaua Ave #404.3
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

For over 35 years Captain Bruce has become a celebrity name in the maritime industry in Hawaii. Every guest is unique, making each charter completely customizable. Nothing is impossible. With captain and crew on every charter, guests are guaranteed luxury hospitality that match their surroundings.

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Snorkel Adventures!
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Adventures
74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

With Kona Ocean Adventures we are not just another tour but a true adventure every time you step aboard our boats. Boutique outfit: Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, whale watching, sunset cruise, manta ray night snorkel and dive. You have come to the right place! Private charters are our specialty.

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Hawaii Nautical 1
Hawaii
Hawaii Nautical
Summary

Hawaii Nautical is one of Hawaii's largest ocean-activity providers, with a fleet of vessels serving many harbors across Oahu and the Island of Hawaii. We respect the ocean and the ecosystem, and follow strict guidelines so that all marine mammals and wildlife are protected.

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