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 87
Honolulu Cookie Company Logo
Oahu
Honolulu Cookie Company
255 Sand Island Access Road
Honolulu, HI 96819
Summary

Our gourmet shortbread cookies are baked daily, made with the finest ingredients and natural Hawaiian flavors, and individually wrapped to maintain its delicious oven-fresh quality. We package our cookies by hand to ensure that each box can be presented as a treasured gift, from our Ohana to yours.

Websites
GoHawaii-Speedi-03
Oahu
SpeediShuttle
Summary

SpeediShuttle is the only transportation company offering complete shared and exclusive shuttle, sedan, SUV, and limousine service, including traditional lei greetings at the gate, on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii.

Websites
Mokulele Airlines
Multi-Island
Mokulele Airlines
73-350 U'u Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Mokulele Airlines has the newest fleet of aircrafts in the state and operates over 120 daily flights from 9 airports, Honolulu & Kalaeloa (Barbers Point) airports on O‘ahu, Kapalua, Kahului & Hana airports on Maui, Kona & Waimea airport on the Big Island, Ho‘olehua & Kalaupapa airports on Mokoka‘i.

Websites
Honolulu location
Oahu
Manuhealii Inc.
930 Punahou St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

Started in 1985, Manuheali'i Inc. has specialized in design of Hawaiian apparel and accessories. With two retail locations in Honolulu and Kailua, and an online store, Manuheali'i continues to supply patrons with ever-changing collections of original designs and styles.

Websites
Ultimate Circle tour
Oahu
Oahu Nature Tours
1649 Kalakaua Ave. #201
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

Join Oahu's original eco-tour company for fun and educational hiking or sightseeing adventure tours. Spectacular scenery, temples, beaches and waterfalls, provide excellent photographic opportunities. Information about the geology, archaeology, mythology and history of Hawaii await you on our tours.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More