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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Volcano Art Center
Hawaii
Volcano Art Center
Summary

Volcano Art Center (VAC) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization founded in 1974 by a band of eclectic and energetic artists. Today, Volcano Art Center continues to operate a successful fine arts gallery showcasing handcrafted artworks by over 230 local artists, as well as developing and offering programs for residents, Keiki (children) and visitors alike, including the award-winning Na Mea Hawai`i Hula Kahiko performance series at the kahua hula in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

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Serendipity in Waikiki
Oahu
Captain Bruce Yacht Charters
2250 Kalakaua Ave #404.3
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

For over 35 years Captain Bruce has become a celebrity name in the maritime industry in Hawaii. Every guest is unique, making each charter completely customizable. Nothing is impossible. With captain and crew on every charter, guests are guaranteed luxury hospitality that match their surroundings.

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UTVs
Lanai
Lanai Adventure Center
Summary

Experience Lanai by Four Seasons and explore your own 90,000 acres island. Enjoy breath taking views of Lana'i's uplands and embrace its cultural and historical offerings through a 2-hour guided UTV tour. Ride horseback and discover untouched Hawaii on the one-of-a-kind island. Tours daily.

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A sunny day in Volcano (located outside of Kilauea Lodge)
Hawaii
Experience Volcano
Summary

Volcano Hawaii is one of Hawaii's best kept secrets! Home to a community of artists, scientists, farmers, & anyone who loves, peace, quiet, serenity and an authentic Hawaiian experience. In Volcano you can find events, dining, B&Bs, lodging, tours, artists & art, relaxing opportunities & exploring!

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surfhnl4
Oahu
Surf HNL
2116 Lauwiliwili Street
Unit #105F
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Surf Hnl formally Girls Who Surf takes pride in providing the highest quality surf lesson activity on Oahu. Combining extended trip duration with our small groups and uncrowded surf locations, you will not only just enjoy the time but really learn the sport of surfing.

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Rainbows
Hawaii
Paniolo Adventures
Mile 13.2, Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250)
Kohala, HI 96743
Summary

Daily "open range" rides over 11,000-acre working cattle ranch on historic Kohala Mountain. Lush pasture, native woods and spectacular views of the coastline and peaks. Marvel at the ancient Hawaiian ruins where King Kamehameha once trained his warriors.

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Tiki Bar
Maui
Tiki Bar
2525 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761-1912
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Serving up ice-cold beer, specialty tropical cocktails, fresh fruit smoothies and more. Guests at the Tiki Bar enjoy watching sports on TV or the Hawaiian entertainment in the Tiki Courtyard each evening.

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