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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Oahu
Shop Polynesia
Summary

The Hukilau Marketplace is your premier destination for shopping and stretching your legs during a day of sightseeing on the North Shore. Our shops filled with authentic Polynesian gifts and products will help you feel the Aloha spirit here in Hawaii.

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

Adults-only, boutique bed & breakfast in the heart of Volcano Village. Hale Ohu offers three rooms with private entrances, complimentary continental breakfast, parking, free Wi-Fi and spa-like bathrooms. You also have access to the lush gardens and our Rainforest Walk set on five acres.

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View from the beach
Kauai
Hale Makai
4794 Aliomanu Road
Anahola, HI 96703
Summary

Feel the warmth of the Pacific Ocean at your feet. Hale Makai, House of the Sea, sits nestled quietly in Anahola Bay, an area rich in Hawaiian culture and a little less traveled by on Kauai's coconut coast.

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Interior and Private Lanai
Kauai
Hanalei Inn
5-5468 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, HI 96714
Summary

A quaint four unit Inn located in the heart of Hanalei Town and only one block to Hanalei Bay. The units have a full kitchen, queen bed, HD cable T.V., private bath, air conditioning, private deck and free wireless internet. Coffee is available each morning under the outdoor lanai.

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Lanai
Hotel Lanai
828 Lanai Avenue
Lanai City, HI 96763
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Hotel Lanai is an island landmark in the heart of Lanai City. Recently renovated in 2018, the hotel features modern, stylish accommodations and amenities for travelers seeking a quiet retreat on Lanai.

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Aerial View of Resort
Hawaii
Halii Kai Resort at Waikoloa
69-1029 Nawahine Place
Waikoloa, HI 96738
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Halii Kai’s spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom vacation villas and town homes are thoughtfully designed for family & friends to enjoy. Individually decorated, each condo includes a gourmet kitchen, living room, private lanai, full washer/dryer, WiFi flat screen TV, central air, and ceiling fans

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