Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii

Whale Watching

Scroll to Continue

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

Filter Results
showing 1 - 10 of 47
Landing page of the Love Big Island website
Hawaii
Love Big Island
Summary

A Big Island travel guide written by people with a passion for Hawaii. We enable visitors to plan their own vacation in a sustainable way with minimum impact on the local environment. Visit our website for custom itineraries, activity information (DIY guides and tours), city guides, and much more.

Websites
Sunday Brunch at Manta Restaurant
Hawaii
Sunday Brunch
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

Mauna Kea’s sumptuous Sunday Brunch buffet overlooks stunning Kauna`oa Bay and is highlighted by an array of breakfast and lunch favorites enhanced with Chef's selections of specialties. Make every Sunday a special celebration at Mauna Kea!

Websites
Number 3 located at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Hawaii
Number 3
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

Enjoy a casual lunch, ice cold beer and libations on legendary Mauna Kea Golf Course at the clubhouse. Venue available evenings for special events.

Websites
Kilauea Volcano
Hawaii
Kona Nature Tours
75-5737 Kuakini Highway #201
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Kona Nature Tours provide unique and customized experiences for visitors to the Big Island of Hawaii. Our adventure guides will take you to where we go, to see what we see and to live like we live. Experience: History and Culture, SCUBA, Guitars, Designed-to-taste meals, Rappelling, Portage Services, Private Beaches, Private Coves, Overnight Camping, Your Imagination.

Websites
Lava Ocean Tour - Take a tour to watch the lava flow into the ocean!
Hawaii
Travel Bug
2414-A Parker Place
Honolulu, HI 96822
Summary

ALOHA and WELCOME to the Big Island! We are 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 for your adventure. Serving with Aloha since 1997.

Websites
The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort Piko Coffee + Bar
Hawaii
Piko Coffee + Bar
62-100 Kaunaoa Dr.
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

This barista bar has everything from 100-percent Kona Coffee to morning lattes and elevated grab and go selections. In the afternoon and evenings, Piko Coffee+Bar is the place to connect, lounge or relax with an island beverage while enjoying panoramic resort views.

Websites
Pleasant Holidays
Multi-Island
Pleasant Holidays
2404 Townsgate Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Summary

Pleasant Holidays has sent more than 10 million visitors to Hawaii since 1959, featuring value-packed vacations, customized itineraries and nationwide airfares; plus a large variety of activities and excursions for a truly memorable experience.

Websites
YMT Vacations - Snorkeling
Multi-Island
YMT Vacations
400 Continental Blvd. Ste.200
Array
El Segundo, CA 90245
Summary

YMT Vacations started in 1967 as “Your Man Tours” arranging tours to Hawaii for veterans of foreign wars. The “Your Man” was a reference to our Polynesian guides who greeted guests. Today we are known as YMT Vacations to reflect worldwide expertise in North America, Alaska, Hawaii and Europe.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More