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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Outdoor Adventure Tour
Maui
Rappel Maui
Summary

This exciting outdoor adventure takes you to a private rainforest, halfway to Hana, where you'll gear up like a pro with your guides and walk down secret tropical waterfalls & jungle cliffs. No experience is necessary. Tour includes transportation, gear (including footwear), bottled water, lunch.

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Rainbows
Hawaii
Paniolo Adventures
Mile 13.2, Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250)
Kohala, HI 96743
Summary

Daily "open range" rides over 11,000-acre working cattle ranch on historic Kohala Mountain. Lush pasture, native woods and spectacular views of the coastline and peaks. Marvel at the ancient Hawaiian ruins where King Kamehameha once trained his warriors.

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Bishop Museum - Hawaiian Hall Complex
Oahu
Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
Summary

Hawaiʻi's museum of natural and cultural history. Experience daily exhibits, garden tours, planetarium shows and interactive exhibits. Shop for authentic Hawaiian and Pacific gifts. Discover the history of Hawaiʻi!

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Snorkel Adventures!
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Adventures
74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

With Kona Ocean Adventures we are not just another tour but a true adventure every time you step aboard our boats. Boutique outfit: Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, whale watching, sunset cruise, manta ray night snorkel and dive. You have come to the right place! Private charters are our specialty.

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Spa Couples Treatment Living Room
Lanai
Hawanawana Spa
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
One Manele Bay Rd
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Re-energize, unwind, and simply surrender to luxurious pampering with grace and skill, our spa professionals provide service of the highest quality creating an unforgettable experience. MAE 1586

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Hawaii
Oahu
Whyzz Explorer
Summary

“Travel is the best education.” The WhyzzExplorer iPhone app helps families to learn about Hawaiian culture, history, myths & legends and the islands' challenges with fun computer vision object hunts. For Young Global Citizens that are curious about the world and eager to make a difference.

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Waikiki Aquarium Logo
Oahu
The Waikiki Aquarium
2777 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Admission prices: $12 Adults, $5 Children (4-12), FREE Children 3 & under, $8 Kamaaina, $8 Active Duty Military, $5 Seniors(65+), $5 persons with disabilities, FREE Fowa Members. 2019 marks the 115th anniversary of the aquarium making the Waikiki Aquarium the 2nd oldest in the United States

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Do Something Dirty!
Kauai
Kauai ATV
3477A Weliweli Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Come play in Kauai's lush tropical jungle on an easy to use all terrain vehicle. View rare wildlife and breathtaking vistas. Venture to secluded cascades in the heart of Kauai's south side. Join Kauai ATV for an experience of the road less traveled.

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