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 266
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.

Websites
The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort 'Ikena Landing restaurant
Hawaii
Ikena Landing
62-100 Kaunaoa Drive
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Summary

Begin each morning in the open-air setting of ‘Ikena Landing with a delectable breakfast buffet or, select from a menu of taste-tempting and healthy ala carte options including fresh juices by The Juicery and vibrant, nutritious smoothies.

Websites
Cabana Seating
Oahu
Miyako
2863 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Authentic Japanese food in an ocean-view setting. Choose between Western or traditional tatami (sit-down) style service. Outstanding kaiseki menus available.

Websites
Kuhio Beach Grill
Oahu
Kuhio Beach Grill
2552 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Our Waikiki restaurant offers daily breakfast buffets. In the evening, the oceanfront location features Modern American small plates with local ingredients seven nights a week and a special dinner buffet Friday-Sunday.

Websites
Logo
Oahu
Goma Tei Ramen
2330 Kalakaua Ave.
International Market Place 3rd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Local favorite ramen chain restaurants! For over 12 years, we server ramen noodles and rice bowls in five major malls in Hawaii. Every pot of our soup is made in-house and cooked for more than 20 hours before serving. We don't use concentrate!

Websites
surfhnl4
Oahu
Surf HNL
2116 Lauwiliwili Street
Unit #105F
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Surf Hnl formally Girls Who Surf takes pride in providing the highest quality surf lesson activity on Oahu. Combining extended trip duration with our small groups and uncrowded surf locations, you will not only just enjoy the time but really learn the sport of surfing.

Websites
Royal Scoop Ice Cream Parlor & Cafe
Maui
Royal Scoop
2780 Kekaa Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

The Royal Scoop offers lighter fare with mouth-watering pastries and continental breakfast items, gourmet sandwiches and snacks, local Maui-made ice cream and frozen yogurt, and specialty coffees and smoothies. Outdoor seating is available, or for your convenience have your items wrapped to go.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More