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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Kings' Shops on Kings Lake
Hawaii
Kings' Shops
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Kings’ Shops is Hawaii Island’s premiere shopping and dining destination offering a great collection of brand name stores, island favorites, fine art galleries, casual eateries and fine dining

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Turtle
Maui
Pride of Maui
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Pride of Maui is Maui’s #1 Molokini Snorkel Tour with over 30 years experience. She is the most spacious vessel on Maui, with unsurpassed stability and amenities. Her expert crew are some of the best in the business.

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Elegant Outdoor Event
Multi-Island
MC&A
615 Piikoi Street
Suite 1000
Honolulu, HI 96814
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Full service Destination and Events Management company specializing in creative and customized incentive corporate and convention programs throughout the Islands.

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Our Store At Ali'i Gardens
Hawaii
Kona Natural Soap Company
75-6129 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
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Kona Natural Soap Company manufacturers and sells aromatheraphy vegan soaps and infused kukui nut oils; grows and sells 100% Kona Coffee and 100% Hawaiian roasted cocoa beans grown on our bio-diverse 5 acre farm called Kokoleka Lani Farm. We also offer culinary tours through "Home Tours Hawaii."

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Oahu
Hawaii's Best
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Hawaii’s Best for anyone who has a love for Hawaii and wants to learn more about its culture and people. Through our podcast, partnerships, blog, shop, and social media, there are many ways we spread aloha throughout the world.

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Travel Weekly Leadership Forum
Oahu
Travel Weekly
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Travel Weekly is the travel trade's leading business media brand, delivering the latest news, analysis and in-depth coverage of every sector including airlines, car rental, cruise lines, destinations, hotels, tour operators, agencies and more.

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Kuhio Avenue Entrance
Oahu
International Market Place
International Market Place
2330 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
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On the island of Oʻahu in the heart of Waikīkī, International Market Place is a retail and dining destination that attract residents and visitors alike. The revitalized International Market Place features shopping in an open air environment and a unique “Hawaiian Sense of Place”.

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