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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Oahu
Makani Catamaran
1009 Ala Moana Blvd.
Slip F-1. Kewalo Harbor
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Makani Catamaran is a luxury sailing vessel with a capacity of 80. Offering 4 sails daily. Departing from Kewalo Harbor. With an experienced crew, full wet bar, interior cabin with large screen TV, and surround sound its World Class Sailing at its finest!

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Tiki's Fresh Island Fish and Ocean Views
Oahu
Tiki's Grill & Bar
2570 Kalakaua Ave
in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Tiki's Grill & Bar features tastes of the Islands through a balance of American and Pacific-Rim fare for lunch and dinner, using fresh local produce & products. Tiki's offers lanai seating with beautiful sunset views of famous Waikiki Beach accompanied by nightly live entertainment and retro decor.

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Oahu - Pearl Harbor
Oahu
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
99 Kaulele Pl
Hangar #105
Honolulu, HI 96819
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 Honolulu and Ko Olina.

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HiSAM Logo 950x700
Oahu
Hawaii State Art Museum
250 South Hotel Street
Second Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

A venue for the Art in Public Places Program of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) features works of art primarily by artists with a connection to Hawaii and exhibits on topics of interest to communities in our state. Admission is always free!

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Manta ray
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Experience
78-7130 Kaleiopapa St
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Kona Ocean Experience offers quality small group boat excursions to interact with/observe dolphins, whales, manta rays & other amazing marine life, snorkel above the reefs in the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay, learn about Hawaiian Culture, folklore & history of the beautiful Kona Coast area.

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MauiWine
Maui
MauiWine
HC 1 BOX 953
Kula, HI 96790
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MauiWine is Hawaii's largest winery, growing & crafting quality wines capturing Maui's essence through its pineapple & estate-grown wines. Daily tastings & tours of the cellar & historical grounds. MauiWine embraces its responsibility to Maui's agriculture, manufacturing & hospitality industries.

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Guided Waterfall hikes
Oahu
Bike Hawaii
Summary

Explore Oahu from the rainforest with our professional nature guides while, Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Sailing and Snorkeling. Exclusive access to remote Hawaiian rainforest. Delicious meals and transportation from Waikiki included.

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Zipline with Climb Works
Oahu
Kittie Travel
Summary

Hawaii based travel agency specializing in Hawaii vacations for Family vacation, destination weddings and honeymoons. We are committed to offering travel services of the highest quality. Our experience and commitment to customer satisfaction has earned us a solid reputation in the travel industry.

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Hanalei Pier
Kauai
Best of Kauai Tour
Summary

See the best of Kauai in just a day. Take in breathtaking views, scenic Kauai beaches, waterfalls, Island history and culture, as well as local advice on the best things to do while visiting Kauai. The Best of Kauai Tour combines a land, riverboat and air tour for the absolute best value.

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The Break
Lanai
The Break
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
One Manele Bay Road
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

This open-air bar offers Hawaiian coffee and light breakfast items, salads, sandwiches and housemade gelato at lunch. As the day winds down, gather for sharing plates, local beer, wine and craft cocktails or end the evening with nightcaps and dessert.

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