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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Guided Waterfall hikes
Oahu
Bike Hawaii
Summary

Explore Oahu from the rainforest with our professional nature guides while, Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Sailing and Snorkeling. Exclusive access to remote Hawaiian rainforest. Delicious meals and transportation from Waikiki included.

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Biki
Oahu
Biki
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1300 bikes and 130+ Biki Stops through out urban Honolulu, Biki provides an affordable, convenient and fun transportation option to see the city.

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Shaka Tea
Hawaii
Shaka Tea
288 Kilauea Ave
Hilo, HI 96720
Summary

Shaka Tea is the first line of Hawaii-grown, herbal iced teas on the market brewed with mamaki, which is only found and grown one place in the world - the Hawaiian archipelago.

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Noho Home
Oahu
NOHO HOME by Jalene
Summary

NOHO HOME is a sophisticated island experience cultivated through artful home decor. Marked by the designer's profound love for her Hawaiian heritage and other first nations' cultures, NOHO HOOME reimagines the island home aesthetic into organic textures woven with native intelligence.

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Red Salt Dining Room
Kauai
Red Salt
2251 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
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Red Salt’s diverse menu by acclaimed Executive Chef and Kauai native Noelani Planas celebrates fresh Hawaiian seafood and produce in a casual, yet sophisticated seaside atmosphere.

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