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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Kilohana Mansion
Kauai
Kilohana
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Kilohana Plantation is a historic landmark and premier visitor attraction offering visitors and locals a glimpse into Kauai’s past combined with assorted island-style activities, dining and shopping.

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Huki5
Oahu
HUKI: A Canoe Celebration
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy.
Laie, HI 96762
Summary

Come experience our canoe presentation sure to both inspire and entertain. Our colorful midday production explodes with Polynesian spirit, stories, and fun depicting the allure and adventure of ocean life through ancient myths and customs, inspiring local history, and favorite island songs.

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HiSAM Logo 950x700
Oahu
Hawaii State Art Museum
250 South Hotel Street
Second Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

A venue for the Art in Public Places Program of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) features works of art primarily by artists with a connection to Hawaii and exhibits on topics of interest to communities in our state. Admission is always free!

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Coastal Run Money Shot
Hawaii
Splashers Ocean Adventures
74-5583 Luhia Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Swim with Manta Rays and Snorkel Kona's beautiful reefs in style. Offering easy snorkel trips up and down Kona's dramatic coastline. Learn the history of Kona's coast while cruising aboard our fast fun boat. Use promo code gohawaii when booking online and save $10. www.splashersoceanadventures.com

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cave
Hawaii
King Kayak Hawaii
78-144 Holua Road
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Guided Kayak Tours (2-4 hrs) along the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kayak and snorkel among coral teeming with colorful tropical fish in crystal clear waters with clarity over 50ft. Very small groups offering dolphin watching, turtle cleaning station, cliff jumping, sea caves, and more.

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