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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Hawaii Forest & Trail Oahu
Oahu
Hawaii Forest & Trail
Summary

Let Hawaii Forest & Trail show you an authentic Oahu, utilizing our unparalleled land access and interpretive guiding approach to provoke authentic place-based experiences that illuminate the island’s unique regions through in-depth interactions with our nature and culture. Our Hawaii Oahu tours offer a different perspective.

Submerging
Oahu
Atlantis Submarines
Beachfront Ticket Office
Hilton Hawaiian Village 2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels.

Moana Surfrider Exterior
Oahu
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
2365 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, often referred to as the "First Lady of Waikiki," is a legendary landmark introducing the world to Hawaiian hospitality in 1901. Step back into yesteryear with all the contemporary amenities and unique services to make your Hawaii vacation memorable.

Sunrise over Waimanalo Beach
Oahu
Travel Bug
2414-A Parker Place
Honolulu, HI 96822
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ALOHA and WELCOME to the islands! A local full-service Travel Agency with extensive knowledge of the Hawaiian Islands. Specializing in island travel and cruises for groups, schools, reunions, families. We arrange all activities & resorts, even the Disney Aulani resort. Serving with Aloha since 1997.

New Waikiki Sunset Cruise! 'Ocean and You'
Oahu
Ocean and You
307 Lewers Street
Suite 401
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Take in the glow of Diamond head at golden hour and the magic of the Honolulu city lights from an all-new luxury powerboat! Ocean and You is the premier Oahu experience for an intimate and upscale sunset dinner cruise.

Delta Vacations
Oahu
Delta Vacations
700 South Central Avenue
Department 468
Atlanta, GA 30354
Summary

Delta Vacations offers convenient, affordable vacations that combine Delta Air Lines® or Delta's codeshare partner flights with hotel stays, rental car, sightseeing and entertainment, escorted tours, and more.

Stripsteak Waikiki
Oahu
STRIPSTEAK Waikiki
International Market Place - 3rd Floor Grand Lanai
2330 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 330
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

STRIPSTEAK Waikiki, located on the 3rd floor of the International Market Place, is a new genre of modern steakhouse by James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina and is the first restaurant in the State of Hawaii to be named 'America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2018' by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Blushing Bride
Multi-Island
White Orchid Wedding
1961 East Vineyard Street
Wailuku, HI 96793
Summary

Elegant Wedding Celebrations, simple to extravagent. Specializing in private waterfall locations, oceanfront estates, beach houses, historic sites, luxury resorts and unique wedding locations. Receptions, luaus, and catering are also available.

Kalulu
Lanai
Lana'i Ocean Sports
MANELE SMALL BOAT HARBOR
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Lana'i Ocean Sports is committed to excellence by creating lifelong memories through personalized service delivered with Aloha. As stewards and sailors, we perpetuate our Hawaiian culture and protect our environment. As an ‘Ohana, we value each other and inspire integrity, innovation, and community.

Tropical Mid Century Modern Design
Oahu
Hotel Renew
129 Paoakalani Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

This boutique hotel offers style in a convenient location just 2 short blocks to Waikiki Beach, and near the International Market Place. Hotel Renew offers elegant guest rooms with an intimate atmosphere. Amenities include WiFi internet access, daily continental breakfast and a daily happy hour.

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