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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Ultimate Circle tour
Oahu
Oahu Nature Tours
1649 Kalakaua Ave. #201
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

Join Oahu's original eco-tour company for fun and educational hiking or sightseeing adventure tours. Spectacular scenery, temples, beaches and waterfalls, provide excellent photographic opportunities. Information about the geology, archaeology, mythology and history of Hawaii await you on our tours.

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Pearl Harbor Tours
Oahu
Pearl Harbor Tours
Summary

At Pearl Harbor Tours we strive to be the most convenient, entertaining, personalized and safest tours on the road here in Hawaii so you can enjoy a stress-free experience visiting Oahuʻs top attractions. Our small group tours of 12 passengers or less will make you feel part of our ohana. Join Us.

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Pineapple Field
Maui
Maui Pineapple Tours
883 Haliimaile Road
Check-in at Haliimaile Distilling Company
Haliimaile, HI 96768
Summary

Sample Maui's sweetest fruit Maui Gold while our knowledgeable tour guide shares entertaining facts and history about Hawaii's Pineapple- Visit Pineapple fields, Tour Maui Gold, Pineapple Packing Factory, and bring home free pineapple.

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Koloa Rum Company
Kauai
Koloa Rum Company
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Koloa Rum Company Premier Tasting Room & Company Store. Taste the history of Kauai’s hand crafted authentic Hawaiian premium rum at the plantation-style premier Tasting Room & Company Store at the Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. 808-246-8900

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Bumper Tube
Oahu
Hawaii Water Sports Center
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96825
Summary

Located on the water in Koko Marina Oahu, just minutes from Hanauma Bay and Waikiki, Hawaii Water Sports Center offers a full line up of water activities. The center has it all - Parasailing, Jetskiing, Scuba diving, Wakeboarding, and Water-skiing. Ask about our exciting Bumper Tube and Banana Boat!

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Pupus and mai tais
Kauai
Tasting Kauai
Summary

Tasting Kauai invites residents and visitors on a culinary romp through paradise. Learn how to buy local through educational and fun events while connecting with Kauai’s culture, aloha, people and land. A portion of all book and tour sales are donated to the Hawaii Food Bank - Kauai Branch.

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