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

National Geographic winner! – Located @ Wailua River Marina - Summer Na Pali sea kayak tour - Wailua River paddle & hike waterfall tour - Hanalei River paddle & snorkel adventure - Island wide hiking tours - Stand Up Boards Rentals - Camping outfitters +bag storage & shuttle-VACATION RENTALS.

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Kitty heaven
Lanai
Lanai Cat Sanctuary
1 Kaupili Road
LANAI CITY, HI 96763
Summary

More than 600 cats call us home. As a nonprofit, we rely on donations to make lifelong care possible for our Lanai Lions. Our rescue work saves cats, protects endangered birds and reduces cat overpopulation. Open daily from 10am-3pm. No appointment is required. Learn more at lanaicatsanctuary.org

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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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FREE Hawaii Online Brochures
Hawaii
Island Source
Summary

Instant FREE Online Access to HAWAII TRAVEL BROCHURES and Information for Hawaii Activities, Tours, and Adventures, including sources for Hawaii Lodging and Accommodations and even Shopping for Made-in-Hawaii Gifts (including Koa Wood ). The Best of Hawaii at your fingertips, anyplace, anytime.

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Ocean Sports
Hawaii
Ocean Sports Waikoloa
69-275 Waikoloa Beach Dr.
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Hawaii's most complete beach and boat activities. Home of the world famous "Seasmoke" and luxurious "Alala" and Manu Iwa catamarans, offering Snorkel Cruises, Sunset Cocktail Cruises, Whale Watching, Glass Bottom Boat, SCUBA, kayaks, and beach day packages.

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Hawaii Admirer
Oahu
The Hawaii Admirer
Summary

Ashlee is a Hawaii-loving Aussie. After clocking up over forty incredible trips to Hawaii she followed her heart and moved to Honolulu. She's a serial Hawaiian Island traveller, Airbnb Superhost in Waikiki and Founder of The Hawaii Admirer travel website. Her insider knowledge will help you dream about, plan and book your next Hawaii holiday!

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Maka Koa Dive Boat
Maui
Maui Dive Shop
1455 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
Summary

Maui's Leading Snorkel & Dive Center offering dive gear rentals, sales, instruction & beach wear, Maka Koa, our 48' custom dive boat, offers dives to Molokini, Back Wall, Cathedrals, & Wreck Dives. Maka Koa offers a full breakfast & deli lunch. Free Transportation provided south & west Maui.

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Dolphin Star
Oahu
Dolphin Star
85-374 Farrington Hwy
Waianae, HI 96792
Summary

View wild dolphins on a fabulous eco-tour a world away from Waikiki. Led by our crew of Certified Naturalists you'll enjoy a unique experience, savor a Create-Your-Own Gourmet Burger lunch freshly grilled onboard. Dolphin sightings guaranteed!

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