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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Lanai
Hotel Lanai
828 Lanai Avenue
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Hotel Lanai is an island landmark in the heart of Lanai City. Recently renovated in 2018, the hotel features modern, stylish accommodations and amenities for travelers seeking a quiet retreat on Lanai.

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Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
2570 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located on the most scenic end of Waikiki and directly across from Waikiki Beach, this hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness center, meeting & banquet rooms, an activities desk and concierge, WiFi internet access, and on-site dining. Contemporary guest rooms offer a lanai & a Keurig coffee maker.

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Wyndham Bali Hai Villas
Kauai
Wyndham Bali Hai Villas
4970 Pepelani Loop
Princeville, HI 96722
Summary

Wyndham Bali Hai is located in the picturesque Princeville community and offers spacious one- and two-bedroom suites that are appointed with full kitchens, dining and living areas and washer/dryer combinations that enable you to enjoy the comforts of home in this tropical paradise.

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Courtyard View to Kaanapali Beach
Maui
Kaanapali Alii
50 Nohea Kai Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Experience award-winning beachfront condo rentals on the world-famous Kaanapali Beach. Choose from a variety of luxury one/two-bedroom apartments with kitchens. Our spacious West Maui resort accommodations near Whalers Village are sure to make your family vacation getaway or honeymoon unforgettable.

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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.

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Assistant Marketing Manager
Oahu
Hawaiian Host, Inc.
500 Alakawa Street Suite 111
Honolulu, HI 96817-4576
Summary

Hawai'i's premier brand and the originator of the chocolate covered macadamia. An island tradition providing a fine selection of quality confections. Hawaiian Host: Over 80 years of Genuine. Classic. Original.® and truly Hawai'i’s Gift to the World®

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Colors by the Bay
Lanai
Mike Carroll Gallery
443 Seventh Street
#630645
Lanai City, HI 96763
Summary

Nestled in the lush heart of unspoiled Lana`i, discover this gallery of paradise-inspired pieces by award-wining artist Mike Carroll and his guest artists. Just minutes from the resort in historic Lana'i City, you'll find paintings, prints, woodwork, photography, jewelry, Asian antiques, and more!

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