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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Kozi 1
Hawaii
Kohala Zipline
55-515 Hawi Road
Hawi, HI 96719
Summary

Kohala Zipline's Kohala Canopy Adventure features elevated suspension bridges, soaring tree platforms and thrilling ziplines. Whether you are a real zipline enthusiast or a first-time adventure seeker, the Kohala Canopy Adventure will be an unforgettable experience.

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Skydive Hawaii
Oahu
Skydive Hawaii
68-760 Farrington Hwy
Waialua, HI 96791
Summary

Hawaii's oldest and largest skydiving company offers daily tandem skydiving at the World's Most Beautiful Drop Zone. Tandem is the safest and easiest way to experience the thrill of skydiving for the first time.

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Kayak Kauai
Kauai
Kayak Kauai
3-5971 Kuhio Hwy
Wailua River Marina
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

National Geographic winner! – Located at Wailua River Marina - Summer Na Pali sea kayak tours - Poipu Winter Whale Watching - Wailua River waterfall tour - Hanalei River paddle & snorkel adventure - Island wide hiking tours - Stand Up Boards Rentals - Camping outfitters - VACATION RENTALS.

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Dolphin Discoveries
Hawaii
Dolphin Discoveries
Keauhou Bay
Keauhou, HI 96740
Summary

Snorkel/Dolphin and Whalewatch Adventures. Snorkel 2 sites, Cook's Monument at Kealakekua Bay and the Place of Refuge. View Sea Caves and Lava Tubes. Year round dolphin and whalewatching, guided by marine mammal naturalist. dolphindiscoveries.com

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Silver Falls Ranch
Kauai
Silver Falls Ranch
2888 Kamookoa Road
Kalihiwai Ridge
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

Beginner or expert riders will enjoy the pristine beauty of the secluded location. Up-close mountain views, lush botanicals. Picnic beneath a palm thatched hut and swim at a waterfall. No hiking required. An unforgettable horseback experience.

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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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Tour 55
Oahu
E Noa Tours
Summary

Personalized, air-conditioned 25-27 passenger deluxe mini-bus sightseeing tours of Oahu's most popular attractions escorted by knowledgeable Hawaiiana certified drivers. Customized charters available. Group and travel agent discounts available.

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