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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Maui Wellness Coach
2575 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
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Aloha! I'm Joanne Rose, an International Certified Health & Wellness Coach. I help people reverse chronic illness through a whole foods plant-based diet, so that they will have more energy, vitality and longevity to be around for their loved ones. https://www.mauiwellnesscoach.com

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Hula at the Center
Oahu
Still & Moving Center
1024 Queen St.
Honolulu, HI 96814
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Still & Moving Center is the most comprehensive mind body movement center in Honolulu. An international training facility, we offer corporate or private, wellness & Hawaiian cultural packages and retreats, movement classes/workshops/performers, personalized coaching and bodywork services.

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Maui Healing Retreat
505 Aulii Drive
Makawao, HI 96768
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Maui Healing Retreat specializes in creating Health and Wellness packages for individuals, couples, groups. We are a Retreat company that can assist with accommodations, food options, activities and Retreat packages to help focus and heal your Body, Mind and Spirit. Individual one on one Retreat.

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Cabins, 2 BR / 2 BA each
Maui
Ala Kukui Hana Retreat
4224 Hana Highway
Hana, HI 96713
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Ala Kukui is a cultural center for native Hawaiian spiritual and intellectual advancement. Our retreat space offers a unique opportunity to engage with our local community of cultural practitioners who pay respect to the environment through traditional Hawaiian practices.

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Lumeria Aerial
Maui
Lumeria Maui
1813 Baldwin Avenue
Makawao, HI 96768
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Restored authentic Hawaiian plantation estate providing classes and accommodations on the North Shore of Maui with extensive programs for yoga, watersports, meditation and well being. Offering Farm-to-table dining, adventure classes and activities include surfing, kite surfing and paddle boarding.

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La Mer Table Setting
Oahu
La Mer
2199 Kalia Rd
Honolulu, HI 96815-1988
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Exquisite Neoclassic French Cuisine in an elegant oceanfront setting. Celebrated as Halekulani's finest and Hawaii's longest, consecutively ranked AAA Five Diamond Restaurant & only Forbes Five Star Restaurant, this consummate dining experience is unmatched.

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Puu O Hoku Ranch
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Kaunakakai, HI 96748
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Pu'u O Hoku Ranch or Hill of Stars is located on the remote and tranquil east end of Molokai. This family owned ranch comprises an organic grass fed cattle operation, a bio-dynamic/organic farm, an all inclusive retreat center, and three self - catering vacation cottages.

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