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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Pau Hana
Hawaii
Holualoa Inn
76-5932 Mamalahoa Hwy
Holualoa, HI 96725
Summary

Nestled upcountry among 30-acres of lush tropical gardens, our Kona bed and breakfast offers spectacular ocean views and traditional Island luxury on a private Kona Coffee estate. Choose from elegant rooms, suites, a private cottage or our newly-renovated private Red Barn.

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Hale 'Ohu Red Ginger Room
Hawaii
Hale Ohu Bed & Breakfast
19-3896 Old Volcano Road
PO Box 2102
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

Boutique bed & breakfast in the heart of Volcano Village. Hale Ohu offers three rooms with private entrances, complimentary continental breakfasts, parking, free Wi-Fi and spa-like bathrooms. The beautifully landscaped five-acre property has gardens and a tranquil Rainforest Walk to explore.

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Kings' Shops on Kings Lake
Hawaii
Kings' Shops
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Kings’ Shops is Hawaii Island’s premiere shopping and dining destination offering a great collection of brand name stores, island favorites, fine art galleries, casual eateries and fine dining

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Royal Kona Resort Aerial
Hawaii
Royal Kona Resort
75-5852 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

This oceanfront Resort offers spacious rooms featuring large lanais with beautiful mountain or ocean views, a private swimming lagoon and sandy beach area, oceanfront pool, and Luau show. Dine at the signature Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar.

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Beekeeping Farm Tour
Hawaii
Big Island Bees
82-1140 Meli Rd
Suite 102
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Summary

Come visit our honey & bee farm in Captain Cook! Take a beekeeping farm tour & join us as we open a beehive. Sample our organic honeys, all produced from rare blossoms found on the Big Island, and browse our store and museum full of honey, beeswax products and beekeeping memorabilia.

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Hale Kea Cottage is "just for two" seeking comfort & privacy
Hawaii
Aloha Vacation Cottages
Summary

Affordable, comfortable, small cottage "just for two" guests in South Kohala minutes to beaches. Peaceful, intimate, place near to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, hike, horse-ride, dine, shop, star gaze, whale watch. Generous amenities. Minimum stay is 5 nights 7 nights @ 10% off (except major holidays).

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Hualalai Estate
Hawaii
Cuvée’s Hualalai Estates
72-100 Kaupulehu Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Cuvée owns and curates a collection of ultra-luxury villas & chalets in celebrated global destinations, including two private estates at the Four Seasons Hualalai. We create the world’s most elevated travel experiences by providing exceptionally tailored planning and singular, immersive experiences.

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Sunset
Hawaii
Kona Bayview Inn
83-5605 Middle Keei Road
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Summary

Kona Bayview Inn is a quaint three room bed & breakfast located in Captain Cook Hawaii, just 15 miles south of Kailua-Kona, overlooking a 10 acre Macadamia Nut farm. Our remote location is close to two of the best snorkeling destinations on the island.

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