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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Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Maui
Kaanapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761-1987
Summary

Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, fronting world-famous Kāʻanapali Beach, is officially recognized as Hawai’i’s Most Hawaiian Hotel. Here on 11 acres of tropical gardens, our guests can relax and truly enjoy the romantic Hawaiian atmosphere. Here you will experience Aloha at its best!

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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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Wailea Elua Village Lanai View
Maui
Wailea Elua Village - A Destination Residence
3600 Wailea Alanui
Check in with Destination Residences Hawaii 34 Wailea Gateway Place, Suite A102
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

In the heart of Wailea on popular Ulua Beach, enter into a serene paradise of manicured lawns and gardens with two pools, jetspa, paddle tennis, golf putting green and pavilion. Each one- to three-bedroom feature living/dining area, full kitchen and spacious outdoor lanai with personal BBQ grill.

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TPI Pool
Maui
The Plantation Inn
174 Lahainaluna Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Maui's Boutique Bed and Breakfast is nestled in the heart of historic Lahaina Town. This 18 room inn with turn-of-the-century style is footsteps from the ocean. It has antique charm combined with modern amenities where guests experience its quiet grace.

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Queen Kapiolani Hotel logo
Oahu
Queen Kapiolani Hotel
150 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, and just steps away from Waikiki Queen's Surf beach is the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Imagine walking up to an unobstructed view of Diamond Head, the ocean and/or a view of Waikiki. A major transformation of the hotel will be completed in Summer 2018.

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Unwind with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Beach Tower
2470 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

The Aston Waikiki Beach Tower provides the perfect combination of exclusive condominium living and attentive resort-quality service. Conveniently located near the center of Waikiki’s attractions, the hotel offers easy access to an eclectic mix of exciting shopping, dining, and nightlife.

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