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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Kalulu
Lanai
Lana'i Ocean Sports
MANELE SMALL BOAT HARBOR
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Lana'i Ocean Sports is committed to excellence by creating lifelong memories through personalized service delivered with Aloha. As stewards and sailors, we perpetuate our Hawaiian culture and protect our environment. As an ‘Ohana, we value each other and inspire integrity, innovation, and community.

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Big Island - Kilauea
Hawaii
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
68-690 Waikoloa Rd.
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Hilo Int'l Airport & Waikoloa Heliport.

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Kauai - Manawaiopuna Falls
Kauai
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
3730 Ahukini Rd
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the incredible, 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Daily departures from Lihue and Princeville.

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Dondero's Patio Dining
Kauai
Dondero's Restaurant
1571 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Vintage Tuscan villa frescoes and luscious aromas of classic Italian cuisine greet you. The floor to ceiling windows, elegant ambiance and classics made with a fresh twist will entice. The menu features all your favorites made with the freshest of ingredients. Indoor and lanai seating available.

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Kauai Wedding Planner - Legacy Events Kauai
Kauai
Legacy Events Kauai
Summary

Legacy Events Kauai is a full-service wedding & event planning company based on Kauai. We specialize in destination weddings, intimate elopements, and private and corporate events. We believe a great planning experience is equally important to a having a great event.

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2017 HVB #1
Maui
A Happy Maui Wedding
3350 Honoapiilani Rd
Suite 215
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Aloha! We offer happy, affordable weddings, vow renewals, surprise renewals, double and triple renewals, marriage proposals packages, helicopter ceremonies, and beautiful ceremony photography that won't break your budget as well as fantastic, tropical and very Maui, wedding flowers.

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Maui - Wall of Tears
Maui
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
1 Kahului Airport Road
Hangar #105
Kahului, HI 96732
Summary

Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the incredible, 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Kahului.

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Dolphins
Hawaii
Captain Zodiac
74-425 Kealakehe Pkwy #16
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Awarded "2006/2007 C.R.U.I.S.E. Tour of the Year" by Princess Cruises! Captain Zodiac is more than a snorkel tour; it’s a high-speed thrill ride adventure. See dolphins & whales, explore sea caves and see blowholes & unique lava formations.

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