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
Atlantis Submarines Kona
Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel
75-5660 Palani Road #304
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
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. It's like swimming in a giant aquarium, but staying dry the whole time!

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Manta Feeding
Hawaii
Kona Honu Divers
74-5583 Luhia Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Cruise the reefs in style on Kona's largest custom dive charter. Dance with mantas. Dive or snorkel with Kona's amazing marine life. Experience the mystery and magic of black water. Receive $10 off by booking online at konahonudivers.com. Use promo code gohawaii.

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5th St Ohana
Hawaii
5th Street Ohana
11-3774 Fifth Street
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

5th Street Ohana is a fusion of casual Hawaiian atmosphere with the quality and style of a secluded, small B&B. The location provides individual and family explorers a comfortable accommodation close to the popular Volcano National Park.

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The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort 'Ikena Landing restaurant
Hawaii
Ikena Landing
62-100 Kaunaoa Drive
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

Begin each morning in the open-air setting of ‘Ikena Landing with a delectable breakfast buffet or, select from a menu of taste-tempting and healthy ala carte options including fresh juices by The Juicery and vibrant, nutritious smoothies.

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Sunday Brunch at Manta Restaurant
Hawaii
Sunday Brunch
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

Mauna Kea’s sumptuous Sunday Brunch buffet overlooks stunning Kauna`oa Bay and is highlighted by an array of breakfast and lunch favorites enhanced with Chef's selections of specialties. Make every Sunday a special celebration at Mauna Kea!

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The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort Piko Coffee + Bar
Hawaii
Piko Coffee + Bar
62-100 Kaunaoa Dr.
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

This barista bar has everything from 100-percent Kona Coffee to morning lattes and elevated grab and go selections. In the afternoon and evenings, Piko Coffee+Bar is the place to connect, lounge or relax with an island beverage while enjoying panoramic resort views.

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Volcano Village Lodge
Hawaii
Volcano Village Lodge
19-4183 Kawailehua Street
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

Volcano Village Lodge offers private lodges in the Volcano, Hawaii rainforest - located 2 miles from the main entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Each lodge offers luxurious linens, top quality amenities, fireplace, and covered lanai. Rates from $280/night.

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