Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii

Whale Watching

Scroll to Continue

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

Filter Results
showing 1 - 10 of 186
Sub
Hawaii
Atlantis Submarines Kona
Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel
75-5660 Palani Road #304
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels. It's like swimming in a giant aquarium, but staying dry the whole time!

Websites
Fair Wind Cruising
Hawaii
Fair Wind
78-7130 Kaleiopapa Street
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Snorkel with award-winning Fair Wind Cruises! Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, our snorkeling tour travels up the Kona Coast to snorkel at historic Kealakekua Bay marine sanctuary, site of Captain Cook Monument. Our family friendly tours will be the highlight of your Kona, Hawaii vacation!

Websites
Safety Equipment - Always prepared, KHT provides specialty hiking equipment as needed!
Kauai
Kauai Hiking Tours
5485 Koloa Rd.
Unit #1692
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.

Websites
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

Websites
Beachfront Hale Awapuhi Villas, Kapaa, Kauai
Kauai
Premier Kauai Vacation Condos
4-1579 Kuhio Hwy
Suite #103
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

Premier Kaua'i Vacation Rentals manages spacious 1 and 2 bedroom Condos on Kauai’s Coconut Coast. Choose from a wide variety of Condo units located at Lae Nani, Lanikai, Wailua Bay View, and Hale Awapuhi Villas. We provide direct bookings from our office centrally located in the Kapa'a/Wailua area.

Websites
Kekaha Oceanside Kauai Logo
Kauai
Kekaha Oceanside
Summary

Plantation Style Vacation Rental Beach Homes & Cottages on Kauai's sunny west side. Kekaha is located just 50 minutes from the Lihue Airport on the West side of the Island of Kauai, with the longest continuous stretch of white sand beach in the country!

Websites
Pau Hana
Hawaii
Holualoa Inn
76-5932 Mamalahoa Hwy
Holualoa, HI 96725
Summary

Nestled upcountry among 30-acres of lush tropical gardens, our Kona bed and breakfast offers spectacular ocean views and traditional Island luxury on a private Kona Coffee estate. Choose from elegant rooms, suites, a private cottage or our newly-renovated private Red Barn.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More