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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Hawaii
Donkey Mill Art Center
78-6670 Mamalahoa Hwy
Holualoa, HI 96725
Summary

Located 3 miles South of the quaint historic village of Holualoa, the Donkey Mill Art Center is a community art center providing classes, workshops, exhibits, and events for children and adults in a historic coffee mill. Open to all, Weds- Sat from 10am-6:30 pm.

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Koloa Rum Company
Kauai
Koloa Rum Company
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Koloa Rum Company Premier Tasting Room & Company Store. Taste the history of Kauai’s hand crafted authentic Hawaiian premium rum at the plantation-style premier Tasting Room & Company Store at the Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. 808-246-8900

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Serendipity in Waikiki
Oahu
Captain Bruce Yacht Charters
2250 Kalakaua Ave #404.3
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

For over 35 years Captain Bruce has become a celebrity name in the maritime industry in Hawaii. Every guest is unique, making each charter completely customizable. Nothing is impossible. With captain and crew on every charter, guests are guaranteed luxury hospitality that match their surroundings.

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Bumper Tube
Oahu
Hawaii Water Sports Center
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy
Honolulu, HI 96825
Summary

Located on the water in Koko Marina Oahu, just minutes from Hanauma Bay and Waikiki, Hawaii Water Sports Center offers a full line up of water activities. The center has it all - Parasailing, Jetskiing, Scuba diving, Wakeboarding, and Water-skiing. Ask about our exciting Bumper Tube and Banana Boat!

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Lahaina Arts Society artist Evan Schauss
Maui
Lahaina Arts Society
648 Wharf St. #103
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Lahaina Arts Society (LAS) is dedicated to showcase, support, market and mentor Maui County artists. Founded in 1967, LAS is proud to share the beautiful creations & artistry of over 80 local artists in the Banyan Tree and Old Jail Galleries and at weekend fine art fairs under the Banyan Tree.

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Bill wrapped marlin
Maui
Fish Maui
675 Wharf St
Slip #25
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Which fishing charters are best for families? Which boats are recommended for experienced anglers? Which boats are best for larger group charters? Visit FishMaui.com. Serving Maui visitors since 1997, we offer the largest selection of professional Maui fishing guides and charters.

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Big Island - Kilauea
Hawaii
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
68-690 Waikoloa Rd.
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Hilo Int'l Airport & Waikoloa Heliport.

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Beekeeping Farm Tour
Hawaii
Big Island Bees
82-1140 Meli Rd
Suite 102
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Summary

Come visit our honey & bee farm in Captain Cook! Take a beekeeping farm tour & join us as we open a beehive. Sample our organic honeys, all produced from rare blossoms found on the Big Island, and browse our store and museum full of honey, beeswax products and beekeeping memorabilia.

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