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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Oahu
Disney Vacation Club
92-1185 Ali'inui Drive
Kapolei, HI 96707
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Introducing Aulani, DISNEY VACATION CLUB Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai`i. Overlooking the crystal-blue Pacific, the magic of Disney comes to life at this premier vacation destination. Accommodations include Deluxe Studios, 1-, 2-, and 3-Bedroom Villas.

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Alekona Kauai Vacation Rentals - Spouting Horn Cottage
Kauai
Alekona Kauai
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Alekona Kauai's oceanfront homes, condos, and five-star luxury concierge services offer the discerning traveler a Kauai unlike anything they have previously experienced. From creating custom itineraries to private chef dinners, our staff is dedicated to ensure you experience the best of Kauai.

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Kohea Kai Resort Maui
Maui
Kohea Kai Resort Maui
551 South Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
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Your Maui retreat starts here at the island’s newest Adults Only boutique resort. Just steps away from the beautiful five-mile white sand beach, Mai Poina ‘Oe la’u, Kohea Kai Resort is the perfect place to relax on the southwest shore of Maui. Enjoy FREE breakfast daily from 6:30-9:30am.

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Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Maui
Kaanapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761-1987
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Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, fronting world-famous Kāʻanapali Beach, is officially recognized as Hawai’i’s Most Hawaiian Hotel. Here on 11 acres of tropical gardens, our guests can relax and truly enjoy the romantic Hawaiian atmosphere. Here you will experience Aloha at its best!

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Princeville, Kauai, HI - Wyndham Shearwater, Exterior
Kauai
Wyndham Shearwater
S/B 3730 Kamehameha
Princeville, Kauai, HI 96722
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Relax in comfortable two bedroom suites offering convenient living amenities, including a fully equipped kitchen, complimentary WiFi and washer/dryer. This resort offers the oceanfront tropical views that exemplify the spirit of Kauai.

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Oahu
VisitLaie.com
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Visit Laie (www.visitlaie.com) is a destination website, created by the town’s stakeholders and partners as a way for more visitors and families to learn about the wonderful activities and natural beauty that Laie has to offer.

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View from the beach
Kauai
Hale Makai
4794 Aliomanu Road
Anahola, HI 96703
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Feel the warmth of the Pacific Ocean at your feet. Hale Makai, House of the Sea, sits nestled quietly in Anahola Bay, an area rich in Hawaiian culture and a little less traveled by on Kauai's coconut coast.

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Maui
Sunsets In Paradise
3975 Lower Honoapiilani Rd
Lahaina, HI 96761
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One of West Maui's best kept secrets with breathtaking views of Molokai and Lanai, and a small secluded beach for snorkeling or just dipping your toes in the water. Great for watching the resident turtles return at sunset.

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Hotel Coral Reef
Kauai
The Hotel Coral Reef
1516 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746
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Since opening in 1956, Hotel Coral Reef has been part of life on the island of Kaua'i and our enviable beachfront location ensures you will enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted views and access to the breathtaking coastline of "'the garden island".

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