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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Maui
Maui Shirts
66 Wailani St
Wailuku, HI 96793
Summary

Hawaiian Aloha Shirts & Dresses: Paradise Found brand name Made in Hawaii apparel; matching outfits for fun and weddings, Men's & Ladies shirts, Blouses, Sarong Dresses, Long and Short Tank Dresses, Capri Pants, Flip-Flops and Sandals.

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Oahu
Noa Noa Kona Incorporated
1200 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Noa Noa presents a profusion of patterns and colors in traditional Hawaiian, Pacific Island Tapa, and ethnic designs from around the world. Unique hand-batiked clothing, for men and women, are available only in Hawaii and online exclusively at Noa Noa. Established 1980. Locally owned and designed.

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Oahu
The Center of Waikiki
2284 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located in the center of Waikiki, this retail building is reminiscent of the original Waikiki Theatre which was built in 1936 during the “Golden Age of Waikiki” and stood for 70 years. This building also houses the neon-lit “WAIKIKI” sign.

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Maui
Honolulu Cookie Company
695 Front Street
Lahaina, HI 96761
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Our gourmet shortbread cookies are baked daily, made with the finest ingredients and natural Hawaiian flavors, and individually wrapped to maintain its delicious oven-fresh quality. We package our cookies by hand to ensure that each box can be presented as a treasured gift, from our Ohana to yours.

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