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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Hawaiian Paddle Sports Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Maui
Hawaiian Paddle Sports
Summary

Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers authentic, sustainable eco-tours that empower guests to discover a deeper appreciation of and connection to Hawaii’s marine environment. Guests can choose from private kayak, outrigger canoe, canoe surfing, whale watch, and snorkel tours, or take SUP or surf lessons.

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Surf Maui
Maui
Maui Surf Clinics
505 Front Street, Suite #201
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

We focus on the complete surfing experience. Lessons are available for beginning through advanced surfers with a special emphasis on safety and ocean awareness. Group and private surf lessons as well as specialized surf clinics.

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Napili Surf Beach Resort Logo
Maui
Napili Surf Beach Resort
50 Napili Place
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

This limited service con-tel was completely restored in 2018. The 52 individually owned studios and 1 bedroom units vary widely in style. They are uniquely furnished with many options to choose from. All rooms feature private lanai’s, ceiling fans and usual cool northeast trade winds. All rooms also come with fully appointed customized kitchens and bathrooms for your convenience.

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Haleakala - Maui
Multi-Island
Sunshine Helicopters
1 Kahului Airport Road - Hangar 107
Kahului, HI 96732
Summary

Sunshine Helicopters offers helicopter tours of Maui, Molokai, Big Island Hawaii and Kauai. With over 90% of the State of Hawaii accessible only by air, enjoy a helicopter ride and soar with us in the blue skies above the Hawaiian Islands aboard our state-of-the-art helicopters.

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On the beach in Maui
Maui
Maui Sunset
1032 S Kihei Rd
Kihei, HI 96753
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Aloha! On the ocean front in sunny Kihei. Maui Sunset Vacation rental condominiums on the beach in South Maui. Large accommodations with resort amenities, air conditioning, washer/dryer, wi-fi, & large private view decks. Suites are updated. Conveniently located in the Kihei-Wailea Resort area.

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Maui
Maui Kai
106 Kaanapali Shores Place
Lahaina, HI 96761
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Our Maui oceanfront vacation rentals are perfect for family vacations & anyone seeking adventure. Each air-conditioned condos offer a panoramic view and immediate access to Maui beaches. We are close to the action in Lahaina, yet tucked away in a peaceful beachfront location offering fun & romance.

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Reflections Pool
Maui
Grand Wailea
3850 Wailea Alanui
Wailea, HI 96753
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Overlooking Wailea Beach on Maui, the 776-room Grand Wailea Resort offers luxurious amenities including award-winning Spa Grande, spectacular pools with thrilling slides, family activities at Camp Grande, distinctive cuisines and exclusive shopping.

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