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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Red Salt Dining Room
Kauai
Red Salt
2251 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Red Salt’s diverse menu by acclaimed Executive Chef and Kauai native Noelani Planas celebrates fresh Hawaiian seafood and produce in a casual, yet sophisticated seaside atmosphere.

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Cane & Canoe
Maui
Cane & Canoe
1 Bay Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Cane & Canoe offers a window into the Hawaiian soul – both past and present. Here, in this historically rich locale, locals and travelers come together, savoring creative, modern cuisine that celebrates Hawaii’s diverse cultural influences while showcasing its freshest, locally sourced ingredients.

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Lappert's Hawaii at The Shops at Wailea
Maui
Lappert's Hawaii
Summary

At Lappert's Hawaii, we make everything by hand from scratch using only the finest ingredients. From our five retail stores to our wholesale to High-end restaurants state-wide, we are proud to be part of Hawaii's community for over 30 years.

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Kong Lung Trading entrance
Kauai
Kong Lung Trading
2484 Keneke Rd.
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

120 year old North Shore company store for the Kilauea Sugar Plantation has evolved to become an upscale gift and clothing boutique for transcendent and timeless merchandise. Located on the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse, minutes from Princeville.

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Anger Managment and Diver
Oahu
Dive Oahu & Surf
609 Keawe St
1125 Ala Moana Blvd B1, Honolulu, HI 96814 Slip 1131 2463 Kalakaua Ave, Kuhio Beach
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

Dive Oahu offers the best scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, and cruising experience around. Scuba with no experience! Scuba dive reefs, wrecks, and dive at night. Learn to surf on Waikiki beach! Cruise with Hawaiian sea life and view the Waikiki fireworks show! Dive Oahu has something for everyone.

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Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu Exterior View
Oahu
Hard Rock Cafe - Honolulu
280 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Situated in the heart of Waikiki, Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu is conveniently located within walking distance to many resorts, shops, the Hawaii Convention Center, and iconic Waikiki beach. An open air venue which features veranda seating and a blue wave bar for a truly unique dining experience.

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