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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Maui Craft Tours
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Give your taste buds a tour of the tropics by joining us for a visit to Maui's top food & Beverage crafters. Take in the scenery while we safely transport you to Maui's local brewers, winemakers, distillers, coffee roasters, farmers, and top chefs for an authentic and entertaining island experience.

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Spago by Wolfgang Puck at The Four Seasons Resort Maui
Maui
Wolfgang Puck's Spago
3900 Wailea Alanui
Wailea, HI 96753
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At Spago in the Four Seasons Resort Maui, guests will enjoy a sunset and evening that is guaranteed to remember. Whether you are planning an intimate affair or a gala event, Spago offers versatile private dining. The private dining room or entire restaurant is available for your special occasion.

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Panoramic Views of 2 islands from our lanai...Aah, the beauty of Maui. Relax & Enjoy!
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Sunset Shores Maui
3975 Honoapiilani Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
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Direct Oceanfront 3BR/3BA End unit Condo on the shoreline of Maui's beautiful west coast. Unobstructed PANORAMIC OCEAN VIEW & colorful sunsets. You will be awed by our incredible ocean view & location. Nicely upgraded & remodeled, well-maintained with everything you need for a memorable vacation.

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Outlets of Maui
900 Front Street
A203
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761
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The Outlets of Maui are the only outlets in the world on the oceanfront in a historic resort location. The center serves the shopping needs of local residents and the island's 2.9 million annual westbound and eastbound visitors.

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Maui Banyan - living room in MB
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AlohaKiheiMaui.com
2575 S. Kihei Road #H203
Kihei, HI 96753
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Vacation Rentals of our two family-owned one bedroom condos in sunny Kihei, Maui. We have one condo in Maui Vista, and one in Maui Banyan. Both have been outfitted for your comfort, and include all you need for a wonderful vacation!

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UnCruise Adventures
3826 18th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
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An inclusive exploration aboard a 36-guest ship of the islands of Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii. Watch marine life; “talk story” with locals; enjoy exclusivity; and spend time at play—kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and snorkeling.

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