Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii
Whale Watching

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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Maui
Morimoto Maui
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive
Kihei, HI 96753
Summary

At Morimoto Maui, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto uses locally sourced, seasonally fresh ingredients from Hawaii to embark on a distinct culinary adventure that blends Western and Japanese ingredients. Morimoto Maui brings a thoughtfully crafted lunch and dinner menu to a laidback, beachfront setting.

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The Willows Restaurant
Oahu
Willows Restaurant
901 Hausten Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

Located just a few minutes outside of Waikiki, you can experience "Old Hawaii" hospitality and ambiance at the Willows. Let our staff cater to you as you dine from our famous Local Hawaiian buffet in our open-air dining room, surrounded by lush tropical gardens and waterfalls. Banquet rooms also available.

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HO'OMAU RANCH home page
Hawaii
Ho'omau Ranch
89-1074 Old Mamalahoa Highway
Captain Cook, HI 96704-9998
Summary

HO'OMAU RANCH! Horseback riding, ATV/UTV Tours & Ranch Stay. Rare endemic, critically endangered tree species Loulu Palm Pritchardia Schattaueri, Mehamehame, Native Mesic forest. Hawaiian Hoary bat! Bird watch for endangered 'io, endemic 'apapane, 'elepaio and Pueo. Cattle pastures & Agritourism!

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Clambake at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
Hawaii
Clambake
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr
Kamuela, HI 96743
Summary

A remarkable beachside seafood buffet under the stars with sounds of the ocean's surf and contemporary Island music. Saturday evenings, offered seasonally, at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

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Cheers!
Maui
Maui Craft Tours
Summary

Give your taste buds a tour of the tropics by joining us for a visit to Maui's top food & Beverage crafters. Take in the scenery while we safely transport you to Maui's local brewers, winemakers, distillers, coffee roasters, farmers, and top chefs for an authentic and entertaining island experience.

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Outfitters Kauai
Kauai
Outfitters Kauai
2827 Poipu Rd
Poipu Beach, HI 96756
Summary

Enjoy the best Kauai water adventures and most exclusive parts of Kauai. Kayak or SUP to remote areas of Wailua and Hule'ia Rivers. Hike jungle trails through valleys to secluded pools and waterfalls on private Kipu Ranch. Sea kayak magnificent Napali Coast, or paddle the hidden beaches of Poipu.

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