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 Kaanapali Villas
Maui
Maui Kaanapali Villas
45 Kai Ala Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Resting beachfront amid 11 acres of tropical gardens in the heart of the Kaanapali Resort area, the resort has a water activity center, two newly-renovated pool areas, a poolside café and a free shuttle to Kaanapali Resort area shopping and activities.

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Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort Overview
Kauai
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
2251 Poipu Rd.
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Just named the #1 resort in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure, Ko'a Kea is a 121-room boutique oceanfront hotel on the south shore. This intimate and romantic resort offers the island’s closest guestrooms to the water, complemented by award-winning service that is both highly personalized and personable.

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White Sands Hotel
Oahu
White Sands Hotel
Summary

Newly renovated guests rooms with an understated elegance that's far from ordinary. Artistic designs are combined with colors that pop for an energetic feel and a hint of mid-century modern character. Ideal for guests looking for an authentic and unique Hawaiian stay.

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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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Sample interior
Maui
Maui Kai
106 Kaanapali Shores Place
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Our Maui oceanfront vacation rentals are perfect for family vacations & anyone seeking adventure. Each air-conditioned condos offer a panoramic view and immediate access to Maui beaches. We are close to the action in Lahaina, yet tucked away in a peaceful beachfront location offering fun & romance.

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Ali'i Ocean View
Maui
Mana Kai Maui
2960 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
Summary

Located directly on one of Maui's most beautiful swimming beaches, Mana Kai Maui offers all the conveniences of a condominium, along with the added amenities of a hotel. On site restaurant, grocery store, activity desk.

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Volcano Village Lodge
Hawaii
Volcano Village Lodge
19-4183 Kawailehua Street
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

Volcano Village Lodge offers private lodges in the Volcano, Hawaii rainforest - located 2 miles from the main entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Each lodge offers luxurious linens, top quality amenities, fireplace, and covered lanai. Rates from $280/night.

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Villas on the Prince Pool
Kauai
Villas on the Prince
4141 Queen Emma Drive
Princeville, HI 96722
Summary

Fabulous new townhouses with spacious, split-level design, offer lush golf course and dramatic mountain views. Come enjoy the Aloha Spirit on Kauai's north shore! You could just dream of Paradise or, this time, you can come and live in it!

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