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 440
Kauai Banyan Inn View
Kauai
Kauai Banyan Inn
3528 B Mana Hema Place
Lawai, HI 96765
Summary

Kauai Banyan Inn has private bed & breakfast vacation rental suites - beautifully appointed with everything you need for a peaceful, relaxing visit to Kauai. Hillside location affords sweeping panoramic mountain and distant ocean views.

Websites
Wailea Grand Champions - A Destination Residence
Maui
Wailea Grand Champions Villas, A Destination Residence
155 Wailea Ike Place
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Select from 1-, 2- or 3-three bedroom suites with golf, garden or partial ocean views. These fully-equipped Maui vacation condos on the Wailea Blue Golf Course include free parking, wi-fi and phone calls, housekeeping, Concierge, $155 dining and spa credits and a Maika’i grocery discount card.

Websites
The Cowboy House Bath House (Furo)
Hawaii
The Puakea Ranch
56-2864 Akoni Pule Hwy
Hawi, HI 96719
Summary

Luxury, historic, plantation bungalows available for short and long term vacation rentals on a private ranch in Hawi. Beautiful, vacation homes with private pools and organic gardens in a stunning setting.

Websites
Darmic
Oahu
Darmic Waikiki Banyan
201 Ohua Ave.
Suite 612 Tower 2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

The family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large heated fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.

Websites
Standard Room with One King Bed, Ceiling Fan
Kauai
Kauai Palms Hotel
2931 Kalena Street
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

The Kauai Palms Hotel is clean, affordable and just 5 minutes from the Lihue Airport. Standard room rates start at $95/night. Deluxe rooms and rooms with kitchenettes and full kitchens are available. Walk to dining and the white sands and surf of Kalapaki Beach are just minutes away!

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More