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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Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
2570 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located on the most scenic end of Waikiki and directly across from Waikiki Beach, this hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness center, meeting & banquet rooms, an activities desk and concierge, WiFi internet access, and on-site dining. Contemporary guest rooms offer a lanai & a Keurig coffee maker.

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Waikiki Banyan
Oahu
Darmic Waikiki Banyan
201 Ohua Ave.
Suite 612 Tower 2
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

This family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.

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Kona Reef Lanai
Hawaii
Castle Kona Reef
75-5888 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Oceanfront on the sunny Kona Coast, with one & two bedroom suites. Fully equipped kitchens with resort amenities including swimming pool, jet spa, sun deck & barbecue area. Walking distance to historic Kona Town for a variety of dining and shopping.

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Ko Olina Resort
Oahu
Ko Olina Resort
92-1047 Olani Street, #1206
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Ko Olina continues to set new standards for luxury vacation resorts with its mix of like-minded resort partners that include Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; and the Beach Villas at Ko Olina.

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Ekahi Village Beach Pavilion & Main Pool
Maui
Maui A Place Apart
3300 Wailea Alanui Dr
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Ekahi Village- Beachfront low rise condominium village with Beach Pavilion, 4 Pools, Paddle Tennis & Shuffle Board on 34 acres. It sits on a mile-long sandy beach with beautiful sunsets, were you can walk to the Hotels for a Meal or luau. Discounts with Wailea Golf & Tennis clubs too!

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Waikoloa Village, HI - Paniolo Greens, Exterior
Hawaii
Paniolo Greens
68-1745 Waikoloa Road
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

This Big Island resort is minutes from the white sand beaches of the Kohala Coast and Hapuna Park with tons of fun on-sit, including a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and more. Enjoy the deep blue waters of the Pacific, lush rain-forests, otherworldly lava flows, world-class golf, and shopping.

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