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 185
Submerging
Oahu
Atlantis Submarines
Beachfront Ticket Office
Hilton Hawaiian Village 2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
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.

Websites
Event Guest Services
Oahu
HiEmployment
745 Fort St. Mall
Honolulu, HI 96813
Summary

HiEmployment is Hawaii's largest, and best, employment / staffing / recruiting agency. We service the convention and hospitality industry by providing the employees you need, when you need them.

Websites
Island Partners Hawaii Special Event
Multi-Island
Island Partners Hawaii
140 Ho'ohana Street. Suite 202
Kahului, HI 96732
Summary

At IPH, our team orchestrates guest experiences to achieve your objectives and exceed audience expectations. Through a combination of passionate, creative talent and the highest level of personalized service, we provide turn-key hospitality logistics and fresh event designs.

Websites
TravelClick Business Intelligence
Oahu
TravelClick Inc.
Summary

TravelClick offers innovative, cloud-based and data-driven solutions for hotels around the globe to maximize revenue. More than 50,000 hotels are driving better business decisions to know, acquire, convert and retain guests through our interconnected suite of solutions.

Websites
Aloha Booth Co
Oahu
Aloha Booth Co.
Summary

Specializing in custom open-air photo booths for your special event. Our unique artisanal wooden booths capture professional-quality photos that can be shared instantly and sent directly so your guests never miss a beat! Take unlimited shots, poses, and prints and even post live to social media.

Websites
Mana Up
Oahu
Mana Up
Summary

Mana Up is an initiative to build Hawaii’s next 100 product companies earning $10 million or more in annual revenue. Mana Up has a 12-week accelerator program offered biannually to enable Hawaii product entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More