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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Kayaking near Safari Explorer, Big Island - UnCruise Adventures
Multi-Island
UnCruise Adventures
3826 18th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
Summary

An inclusive exploration aboard a 36-guest ship of the islands of Molokai, Lana‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i. Watch marine life; “talk story” with locals; enjoy exclusivity; and spend time at play—kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and snorkeling.

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Whalers Cove in Poipu
Kauai
Whalers Cove in Poipu
2640 Puuholo Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Luxury Condos! Best location on the ocean in Sunny Poipu. Large 1, 2, & 3B condos are very spacious, luxurious, and have breath taking views of the ocean. On site staff awarded 5-Star TripAdvisor 6 years in a row! Daily housekeeping, heated ocean-side pool & hot tub, concierge services & much more.

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Mamahunes 14
Kauai
Mamahune's
3-5920 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

Mamahune’s is a retro-inspired tiki bar and restaurant that offers contemporary Hawaiian cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, and picturesque views of Kauai's Wailua Bay.

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Relaxing outdoor pool and sundeck
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Sunset
229 Paoakalani Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Experience Hawaii condominium living in a quiet neighborhood setting at this contemporary property featuring one- and two-bedroom suites with the conveniences of a full service hotel. Within walking distance of Waikiki Beach, zoo, aquarium, and Kapiolani Park.

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Red Salt Dining Room
Kauai
Red Salt
2251 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

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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Relax at the Ocean's Edge
Maui
Mahina Surf
4057 L. Honoapiilani Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

West Maui's best kept secret! One and two bedroom condominiums located on the ocean's edge. This low-rise property is surrounded with lush tropical lawns and gardens. Each condo has a full size kitchen and an oceanfront lanai.

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