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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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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Oahu
Art on the Zoo Fence
2760 Monsarrat Ave
Along the Honolulu Zoo Fence
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Visit us in beautiful Waikiki and discover the richness of Hawaii through the eyes of a variety of artists. The artists will personally introduce you to their work in the splendor of this outdoor tropical setting.

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Oahu
HAWAII 50 TOURS
Summary

If you're a true fan who enjoys the hit Hawaii Five-O TV show, then you will love this tour going around Oahu to some of the most memorable TV series landmarks! Fans will visit exclusive filming locations that will conjure up images and excitement of the rebooted Hawaii Five-O TV series episodes.

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Old Pali Road Whiskey
Oahu
Koʻolau Distillery
905 Kalanianaole Hwy Unit 5014
Kaneohe, HI 96734
Summary

Come experience our one-of-a-kind Hawaii distillery located in the foothills of the legendary Koolau mountains. Learn about the Koolau Distillery story and how we craft Old Pali Road Whiskey, one batch at a time with a narrated step-by-step guide by our knowledgeable whiskey aficionados.

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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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Driving shoot w/ app
Multi-Island
Shaka Guide
Summary

Shaka Guide offers self-guided, GPS audio tours of Hawaii on its travel apps for Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai. Each tour works offline and provides turn-by-turn directions to popular sites with music and stories along the way.

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Try famous Kahuku Garlic Shrimp Lunch at Fumi's
Oahu
Island And You
Summary

Island and You is the best way to experience the food, culture and sights of Oahu all in one day! This circle-island tour takes you to see Hawaii's most stunning natural and cultural landmarks, all while indulging in authentic and fresh Hawaiian food. Take a day to taste, see and feel it all!

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