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 Hawaiian Band
Oahu
Aloha Festivals
2550 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 315
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Aloha Festivals is a statewide non-profit, multi-cultural festival formed in 1946 and held each September. It features over 100 events: parades, street parties, cultural displays and more. Most events free with discounts offered to ribbon wearers.

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Iolani Palace
Oahu
Iolani Palace
364 South King St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

A Hawaiian national treasure and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs.

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The Beach you land at on Moku Nui Island
Oahu
Twogood Kayaks Hawaii
134B Hamakua Drive
Kailua, HI 96734
Summary

Twogood Kayaks has been providing guided and self guided kayak tours, + kayak & snorkel rentals for 28 years. Let us show you Hawaii's most beautiful beaches, secluded offshore islands, and marine wildlife. http://www.twogoodkayaks.com/Packages.html

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Dolphin Encounter
Oahu
Sea Life Park Hawaii
41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy
Waimanalo, HI 96795
Summary

With a focus on conservation and education, this East Oahu attraction is a great place to meet dolphins, sea lions, green sea turtles, rays, native fish and more. It's small enough to enjoy on foot, yet diverse enough to be a full-day attraction, and is also home to the top rated luau on Oahu.

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Back Side of Molokini
Maui
Blue Water Rafting
Kihei Boat Ramp
2920 S Kihei Rd
Kihei, HI 96753-1865
Summary

Snorkel with dolphins, sea turtles, and a colorful array of tropical fish. explore the sea caves and lava arches of a hidden volcanic coastline or have a close encounter with humpback whales. Climb aboard a Blue Water Raft and let the adventure unfold.

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Kona Adventure Tours
Hawaii
Kona Adventure Tours
76-6127 Royal Poinciana Way
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

We are the leader in small group, private & custom tour experiences on Hawaii Island. Offering trips to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, bird watching, and circle island excursions. If you're looking for the best-personalized experience on Hawaii Island, book with us.

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