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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Dolphin Star
Oahu
Dolphin Star
85-374 Farrington Hwy
Waianae, HI 96792
Summary

View wild dolphins on a fabulous eco-tour a world away from Waikiki. Led by our crew of Certified Naturalists you'll enjoy a unique experience, savor a Create-Your-Own Gourmet Burger lunch freshly grilled onboard. Dolphin sightings guaranteed!

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Anger Managment and Diver
Oahu
Dive Oahu & Surf
609 Keawe St
1125 Ala Moana Blvd B1, Honolulu, HI 96814 Slip 1131 2463 Kalakaua Ave, Kuhio Beach
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

Dive Oahu offers the best scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, and cruising experience around. Scuba with no experience! Scuba dive reefs, wrecks, and dive at night. Learn to surf on Waikiki beach! Cruise with Hawaiian sea life and view the Waikiki fireworks show! Dive Oahu has something for everyone.

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Charley's Taxi Honda Odyssey
Oahu
Charley's Taxi & Tours
1451 S. King St., Ste. 300
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Newest premium fleet, most professionally trained drivers. Premium mini van, SUV, limousine & Wheelchair Accessible Van services; concierge services; airport greetings & transfers, FIT & group handling; Japanese Dispatch. Highest safety & professional standards in transportation, tourism industry.

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Maui Boat Trips
Maui
Maui Boat Trips
101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Rd
Slip #68
Wailuku, HI 96793
Summary

Leilani is a custom crafted 50-foot Uniflite Power Vessel. Specially designed for Hawaii's oceans, she offers comfortable and spacious accommodations with a sheltered main cabin, excellent airflow, an observation deck, a large swim platform, a private restroom, and a freshwater shower.

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MAS Logo
Maui
Maui Activities Store
4310 Lower Honoapiilani Rd
Suite #110
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Booking with Maui Activities Store is the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to plan your Maui vacation. Our knowledgeable staff has over 40 years combined experience assisting guests with booking Molokini snorkel tours, luaus, helicopter excursions and many more exciting Maui adventures.

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Oahu
Enterprise Rent-A-Car - Oahu
Summary

Looking to rent a car for an upcoming vacation or business trip? At Enterprise Rent-A-Car we make renting a car seamless so you can get right on your way. Part of the world’s largest fleet with over 1.7 million vehicles, and with 7,600 neighborhood and airport branches in over 85 countries, you are sure to find the right vehicle no matter where your destination is located.

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Maui
Gemini Charters
Summary

Gemini is a 64' catamaran, which sails daily from Ka'anapali beach. We offer year round snorkeling adventures, seasonal whale watches and sunset sails. Gemini is family-owned and operated. We are based out of Ka'anapali's Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

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