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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Lava Ocean Tour - Take a tour to watch the lava flow into the ocean!
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Travel Bug
2414-A Parker Place
Honolulu, HI 96822
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ALOHA and WELCOME to the Big Island! We are a local full-service Travel Agency with extensive knowledge of the Hawaiian Islands. Specializing in island travel and cruises for groups, schools, reunions, families. We arrange all activities & resorts for your adventure. Serving with Aloha since 1997.

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Oahu
Dive Oahu & Surf
609 Keawe St
1125 Ala Moana Blvd B1, Honolulu, HI 96814 Slip 1131 2463 Kalakaua Ave, Kuhio Beach
Honolulu, HI 96813
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Dive Oahu offers the best scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, and cruising experience around. Scuba with no experience! Scuba dive reefs, wrecks, and dive at night. Learn to surf on Waikiki beach! Cruise with Hawaiian sea life and view the Waikiki fireworks show! Dive Oahu has something for everyone.

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Oahu
Travel Bug
2414-A Parker Place
Honolulu, HI 96822
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ALOHA and WELCOME to the islands! A local full-service Travel Agency with extensive knowledge of the Hawaiian Islands. Specializing in island travel and cruises for groups, schools, reunions, families. We arrange all activities & resorts, even the Disney Aulani resort. Serving with Aloha since 1997.

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Maui
A Happy Maui Wedding
3350 Honoapiilani Rd
Suite 215
Lahaina, HI 96761
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Aloha! We offer happy, affordable weddings, vow renewals, surprise renewals, double and triple renewals, marriage proposals packages, helicopter ceremonies, and beautiful ceremony photography that won't break your budget as well as fantastic, tropical and very Maui, wedding flowers.

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Irving, TX 75063
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Certified Hawaii Master Specialists who will custom design your dream Hawaii vacation. Work one-on-one with your personal Hawaii expert with over 25 years experience in Hawaii only vacation planning. Receive more value for your vacation dollars by contacting Hawaiian Travel today.

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Pearl Harbor Tours
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At Pearl Harbor Tours we strive to be the most convenient, entertaining, personalized and safest tours on the road here in Hawaii so you can enjoy a stress-free experience visiting Oahuʻs top attractions. Our small group tours of 12 passengers or less will make you feel part of our ohana. Join Us.

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