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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Hawaii
Kohala Divers
Summary

Kohala Divers is your one stop water sport connection for scuba diving, snorkeling, sportfishing and whale watching. we are a five star PADI dive training facility and offer high quality water sports equipment for rent or retail.

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Hawaii
Silversword Bar
78-128 Ehukai Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Silversword is a comfortable venue in our stunning lobby where guests may enjoy an elevated wine tasting experience during the daily Sheraton Social Hour. Or, gather with friends for an afternoon or early evening cocktail while appreciating gorgeous views of Keauhou Bay and the Kona coastline.

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Kauai
Wings Over Kauai
3764 Kikee Rd.
Kalaheo, HI 96741
Summary

Wings Over Kauai offers safe, fun and informative airplane tours. Cruise native forest waterfalls, the Waimea Canyon, and the world-famous Napali coastline in a proven 4-seat Cessna Skyhawk at a comfortable altitude and for a very affordable price.

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Maui
Botero Bar
3850 Wailea Alanui
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Maui’s nightlife and bar is best enjoyed amidst Hawaii’s largest collection of art including the famous sculptures of Fernando Botero. This Maui bar offers live, nightly entertainment with some of the best Hawaiian music from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

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Lanai
Malibu Farm
One Manele Road
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Overlooking the sparkling pool with commanding views of the ocean, The Lounge is located in the lower lobby area and offers an unforgettable setting for guests to enjoy sunset cocktails and after dinner drinks and live entertainment.

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Maui
Lehua Lounge
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Named after Hawaii’s brilliant red Lehua blossom, this elegant island lounge is nestled among waterfalls and features handcrafted cocktails, gorgeous views of Mokapu Beach and small bites of farm-to-table cuisine.

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Oahu
Shorefyre Fresh Grill & Bar
2330 Kalakaua Ave., Ste 396
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

At ShoreFyre we cook up delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a full bar, we create some of Hawaii’s signature cocktails in a laid-back, casual setting. We make everything fresh with aloha spirit to create tastes and flavors that will recharge you no matter what’s on your itinerary.

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