Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii

Whale Watching

Scroll to Continue

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

Filter Results
showing 1 - 10 of 124
Studio Deluxe Bed With View
Oahu
Ilima Hotel
445 Nohonani St
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

High-Speed Internet in every studio or suite! Condo style w/Hotel services in central Waikiki. Full kitchens, daily maid service. Free limited parking, free 800 & Oahu phone calls. New Conference Center up to 50 w/free a/v equipment!

Websites
Waikiki Banyan
Oahu
Darmic Waikiki Banyan
201 Ohua Ave.
Suite 612 Tower 2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

This family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.

Websites
Reef Bar and Market
Oahu
Reef Bar and Market Grill
Summary

Located on iconic Waikiki Beach, the Reef Bar & Market Grill offers casual all-day dining modeled after authentic local island meat and fish markets. Guests select fresh “farm-to-beach” ingredients and grill their own steaks beachside in a one-of-a-kind interactive dining experience. The combination of locally sourced meats and seafood, farm-fresh produce and invigorating trade winds create an incomparable recipe for the perfect meal.

Websites
The Imperial Hawaiian Resort Tower
Oahu
The Imperial Hawaii Resort
205 Lewers Street
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

The Imperial Hawaii Resort is ideally situated in the heart of Waikiki just 100 yards away from the world renowned Waikiki Beach. The resort features 242 rooms comprised of studios, and 1 & 2 bedroom units. Hawaiian themed furnished rooms come with a mini or full kitchen. Excellent accommodations for leisure, business, or convention travelers. Close proximity to the Hawaii Convention Center, Waikiki Beach Walk, and Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center makes this property the jewel of Waikiki. E komo mai! Come and visit The Imperial Hawaii Resort.

Websites
Ilikai Hotel Pool
Oahu
Marina Hawaii Vacations
1777 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 112
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Fully furnished units with full kitchens in popular Ilikai Hotel, Ilikai Marina and Discovery Bay. Economical weekly & monthly rates with beautiful ocean & city views, located near the yacht harbor at the entrance to Waikiki. Close to beaches, Ala Moana shopping center, convention center.

Websites
aulani-130917-2534_950x700
Oahu
Disney Vacation Club
92-1185 Ali'inui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Introducing Aulani, DISNEY VACATION CLUB Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai`i. Overlooking the crystal-blue Pacific, the magic of Disney comes to life at this premier vacation destination. Accommodations include Deluxe Studios, 1-, 2-, and 3-Bedroom Villas.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More