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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Dolphins and You is a certified sustainable tour company.
Oahu
Dolphins and You
307 Lewers Street
Suite 401
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Swim with wild dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitat in Hawaii. Then enjoy ocean activities, including a 20-foot waterslide! Tour includes hula entertainment and a taro bun cheeseburger lunch. This dolphin encounter is an adventure you’ll never forget.

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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.

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Reef Bar and Market
Oahu
Reef Bar and Market Grill
Summary

Located on iconic Waikiki Beach, the Reef Bar & Market Grill offers casual all-day dining modeled after authentic local island meat and fish markets. Guests select fresh “farm-to-beach” ingredients and grill their own steaks beachside in a one-of-a-kind interactive dining experience. The combination of locally sourced meats and seafood, farm-fresh produce and invigorating trade winds create an incomparable recipe for the perfect meal.

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Garden Room Lounge
Oahu
Tommy Bahama
298 Beachwalk Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Tommy Bahama is an island-inspired lifestyle brand that defines relaxed, sophisticated style in men's and women's sportswear, swimwear, accessories, and complete home furnishings collection. Hawaii has 8 retail stores and 3 restaurants.

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Afternoon Tea
Oahu
The Veranda
5000 Kahala Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
Summary

The Veranda is the hottest spot for the trendy Honolulu crowd as well as hotel guests searching for the place to see and be seen. Overlooking the beach, with a stunning contemporary alfresco area, the Veranda is Honolulu’s living room of the stars.

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Logo
Oahu
Goma Tei Ramen
2330 Kalakaua Ave.
International Market Place 3rd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Local favorite ramen chain restaurants! For over 12 years, we server ramen noodles and rice bowls in five major malls in Hawaii. Every pot of our soup is made in-house and cooked for more than 20 hours before serving. We don't use concentrate!

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Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu Exterior View
Oahu
Hard Rock Cafe - Honolulu
280 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Situated in the heart of Waikiki, Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu is conveniently located within walking distance to many resorts, shops, the Hawaii Convention Center, and iconic Waikiki beach. An open air venue which features veranda seating and a blue wave bar for a truly unique dining experience.

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Dining
Oahu
Hoku's
5000 Kahala Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96816
Summary

Hoku's at The Kahala Hotel & Resort is heralded for its innovative fusion fare which melds Hawaiian, Asian, Mediterranean and European flavors. The restaurant’s twist on contemporary Island cuisine ensures that it is consistently ranked as one of Hawaii's best restaurants.

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Hinana Bar
Oahu
Hinana Bar
100 Holomoana St
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Refreshing beverages and a select casual dining menu let you relax and enjoy your time in the sun to the fullest. Lounge or plunge...our staff is on hand to help you make the most of your poolside experience.

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