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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Oahu
Shoreline Hotel Waikiki
342 Seaside Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
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Just about everything on Waikiki Beach has been discovered, except maybe Shoreline Waikiki Hotel. In the heart of Waikiki, and only seconds from Waikiki Beach, this peaceful hotel is your hidden sanctuary in Honolulu’s premier shopping and dining district.

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Just steps to the beach
Oahu
Renew
129 Paoakalani Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
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This boutique hotel offers style in a convenient location just 2 short blocks to Waikiki Beach, and near the International Market Place. Hotel Renew offers elegant guest rooms with an intimate atmosphere. Amenities include WiFi internet access, daily continental breakfast and a daily happy hour.

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Game Area
Oahu
Coconut Waikiki Hotel
450 Lewers Street
Honolulu, HI 96815
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The 81-room Coconut Waikiki Hotel offers guests a colorful, contemporary twist on classic Waikiki style with an art deco-inspired design. Located just three blocks from the world famous Waikiki Beach, the hotel provides easy access to Waikiki's array of shops, restaurants and nightlife.

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Blushing Bride
Multi-Island
White Orchid Wedding
1961 East Vineyard Street
Wailuku, HI 96793
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Elegant Wedding Celebrations, simple to extravagent. Specializing in private waterfall locations, oceanfront estates, beach houses, historic sites, luxury resorts and unique wedding locations. Receptions, luaus, and catering are also available.

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Paradise Cove Crystal Chapel Outside
Oahu
Best Bridal Hawaii
2250 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 402
Honolulu, HI 96815
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We are an established wedding coordination service company. Our team of wedding designers will plan, coordinate and direct weddings at the most beautiful wedding chapels on the island to create your dream wedding. Exclusive wedding sites includes oceanfront properties, cathedrals and chapels.

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