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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Kalaekilohana Inn and Retreat Frontal View
Hawaii
Kalaekilohana
94-2152 South Point Rd
Box 1125
Naalehu, HI 96722-1125
Summary

Hawaii's Premier Small Hotel in the Country. Locally Sourced and Culturally Appropriate. TripAdvisor's Top 25 Small Hotel in the U.S. for 3 consecutive years. Complimentary breakfast and evening meal options nightly. A great central location for the southern half of Hawaii Island.

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Aerial View of Resort
Hawaii
Halii Kai Resort at Waikoloa
69-1029 Nawahine Place
Waikoloa, HI 96738
Summary

Halii Kai’s spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom vacation villas and town homes are thoughtfully designed for family & friends to enjoy. Individually decorated, each condo includes a gourmet kitchen, living room, private lanai, full washer/dryer, WiFi flat screen TV, central air, and ceiling fans

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Entrance
Hawaii
Volcano Rainforest Retreat
11-3832 12th Street
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

The Volcano Rainforest Retreat is a boutique Bed & Breakfast on the Big Island of Hawaii offering a collection of 4 distinct guest cottages, created with elegant simplicity in harmony and balance with the Hawaiian rain forest, adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and charming Volcano Village.

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Kayaking near Safari Explorer, Big Island - UnCruise Adventures
Multi-Island
UnCruise Adventures
3826 18th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
Summary

An inclusive exploration aboard a 36-guest ship of the islands of Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii. Watch marine life; “talk story” with locals; enjoy exclusivity; and spend time at play—kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and snorkeling.

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Beautiful Ocean and Garden View Studios
Hawaii
Bears' Place Guest House
72-1071 Puukala Rd.
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Great Kailua Kona location! Ocean View studios $85-125/nt. or 4BE/4BA home $395/nt. 10 min to beach, golf & airport. DISC: 20% 2 wk, 10% 1wk. Wir sprechen Deutsch. Free WiFi, parking, beach gear. Kitchenettes or full kitchen, TV, lanai, full baths, laundry, quiet neighborhood.

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Kilauea Lodge Restaurant
Hawaii
Kilauea Lodge
19-3948 Old Volcano Road
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

Historic Lodge near Volcanoes National Park. Romantic rooms & Cottages. Fireplaces. Award-winning restaurant. Gazebo, Hot Tub. Nestled on 10 acres. Conference/private dining room. Breakfast 7:30a-10a, Lunch 10a-2p, Pau Hana (Happy Hour) 2p-5p daily, Dinner nightly 5p-9p & Sunday Brunch 10a-2p.

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