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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Royal Kona Resort Aerial
Hawaii
Royal Kona Resort
75-5852 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

This oceanfront Resort offers spacious rooms featuring large lanais with beautiful mountain or ocean views, a private swimming lagoon and sandy beach area, oceanfront pool, and Luau show. Dine at the signature Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar.

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Kona Reef Lanai
Hawaii
Castle Kona Reef
75-5888 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Oceanfront on the sunny Kona Coast, with one & two bedroom suites. Fully equipped kitchens with resort amenities including swimming pool, jet spa, sun deck & barbecue area. Walking distance to historic Kona Town for a variety of dining and shopping.

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Ko Olina Resort
Oahu
Ko Olina Resort
92-1480 Aliinui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Ko Olina continues to set new standards for luxury vacation resorts with its mix of like-minded resort partners that include Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; and the Beach Villas at Ko Olina.

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Hyatt Centric 1
Oahu
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach
349 Seaside Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Immerse yourself in the welcoming spirit of Aloha during your stay at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. With a location just steps from glittering beaches, island-inspired eateries, and natural wonders, you’ll quickly discover what makes Hawaii such a beloved destination on the island of Oahu.

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View from the beach
Kauai
Hale Makai
4794 Aliomanu Road
Anahola, HI 96703
Summary

Feel the warmth of the Pacific Ocean at your feet. Hale Makai, House of the Sea, sits nestled quietly in Anahola Bay, an area rich in Hawaiian culture and a little less traveled by on Kauai's coconut coast.

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Hale Iki Cottage - One bedroom, one full bath, fully equipped home with kitchen & laundry
Kauai
17 Palms Kauai
414 Wailua Kai Street
Kapaa, HI 96746-9412
Summary

17 Palms Kauai is two vacation rental cottages in a garden setting named by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine as "One of the 20 perfect places to stay in Hawaii and #1 by Trip Advisor; Walk to Wailua Beach by foot path and many restaurants & shops.

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