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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Kauai
Kipu Ranch Adventures
235 Kipu Road
Lihue, HI 96766
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Kipu Ranch Adventures, located on the lush island of Kauai, is proud to be one of the top eco-tours in Hawaii. We enable visitors and residents alike to discover the rich history, landscape and legends that make Kauai activities unique. Come out and join us for a tropical 4x4 off road adventure.

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Alekona Kauai Vacation Rentals - Spouting Horn Cottage
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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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Kekaha Oceanside
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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!

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Hualalai Resort
Hawaii
Hualalai Golf Club
72-100 Kaupulehu Dr
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
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In search of the perfect blend of nature and challenge have found their paradise at Hualalai Golf Club. The course is restricted to Hualalai residents and Four Seasons Resort Hualalai guests, and plays to a par 72, with four tee locations at each hole.

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Sacred Site Tours - Let us guide you to one of our many sacred sites on Maui.
Maui
Maui Healing Retreat
505 Aulii Drive
Makawao, HI 96768
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Maui Healing Retreat specializes in creating Health and Wellness packages for individuals, couples, groups. We are a Retreat company that can assist with accommodations, food options, activities and Retreat packages to help focus and heal your Body, Mind and Spirit. Individual one on one Retreat.

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Kauai
Kauai Camper
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We are Kauai’s original camper van rental company, providing our renters with beautifully restored Volkswagen Westfalia full camper vans. We also offer a wide variety of tents, and camping supplies, including backpacking gear for hiking the Kalalau trail.

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The Cowboy House Bath House (Furo)
Hawaii
The Puakea Ranch
56-2864 Akoni Pule Hwy
Hawi, HI 96719
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Luxury, historic, plantation bungalows available for short and long term vacation rentals on a private ranch in Hawi. Beautiful, vacation homes with private pools and organic gardens in a stunning setting.

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Whalers Cove in Poipu
Kauai
Whalers Cove in Poipu
2640 Puuholo Road
Koloa, HI 96756
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Luxury Condos! Best location on the ocean in Sunny Poipu. Large 1, 2, & 3B condos are very spacious, luxurious, and have breath taking views of the ocean. On site staff awarded 5-Star TripAdvisor 6 years in a row! Daily housekeeping, heated ocean-side pool & hot tub, concierge services & much more.

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