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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Maui
Taverna
Summary

Taverna Restaurant is located in the heart of the Kapalua Resort. We are the gathering place for locals & visitors alike, enjoying our rustic Italian menu along with our craft cocktails & craft tap beer selection. Our Italian inspired wines by glass offerings compliment the menu as well explores the many exciting wine regions of Italy. Ciao!

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Hawaii
Silversword Bar
78-128 Ehukai Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Silversword is a comfortable venue in our stunning lobby where guests may enjoy an elevated wine tasting experience during the daily Sheraton Social Hour. Or, gather with friends for an afternoon or early evening cocktail while appreciating gorgeous views of Keauhou Bay and the Kona coastline.

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Kauai
Aulii Luau
Sheraton Kauai Resort
2440 Hoonani Rd
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Enjoy an exquisite gathering with an authentic experience of old Hawai'i. As the sun sets, treasure this mesmerizing setting as you indulge in island culinary treats with the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop. Watch as music and dance bring the story of Polynesia to life.

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Lanai
Malibu Farm
One Manele Road
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Overlooking the sparkling pool with commanding views of the ocean, The Lounge is located in the lower lobby area and offers an unforgettable setting for guests to enjoy sunset cocktails and after dinner drinks and live entertainment.

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Oahu
Hideout
2299 Kuhio Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

A warm greenhouse-style restaurant offering Hawaii Regional Cuisine featuring fresh fish, local produce and inventive appetizers such as prized musubi topped with house made spam.

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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
The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea
555 Kaukahi St
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Hawaii’s first and only Relais & Châteaux restaurant, The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea offers relaxed elegance infused with creative island-to-table cuisine. Menus are created around what is readily available from Maui’s own farms and fisherman ensuring that each dish is prepared using only the finest local, seasonal and artisanal products; including those grown in the restaurant’s own garden and farming operation.

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