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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Maui
Maui Kai
106 Kaanapali Shores Place
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Our Maui oceanfront vacation rentals are perfect for family vacations & anyone seeking adventure. Each air-conditioned condos offer a panoramic view and immediate access to Maui beaches. We are close to the action in Lahaina, yet tucked away in a peaceful beachfront location offering fun & romance.

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Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Maui
Kaanapali Beach Hotel
2525 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI 96761-1987
Summary

Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, fronting world-famous Kāʻanapali Beach, is officially recognized as Hawai’i’s Most Hawaiian Hotel. Here on 11 acres of tropical gardens, our guests can relax and truly enjoy the romantic Hawaiian atmosphere. Here you will experience Aloha at its best!

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Wailea Grand Champions - A Destination Residence
Maui
Wailea Grand Champions Villas, A Destination Residence
155 Wailea Ike Place
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

Select from 1-, 2- or 3-three bedroom suites with golf, garden or partial ocean views. These fully-equipped Maui vacation condos on the Wailea Blue Golf Course include free parking, wi-fi and phone calls, housekeeping, Concierge, $155 dining and spa credits and a Maika’i grocery discount card.

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Makena Surf - Destination Residences Hawaii
Maui
Makena Surf, A Destination Residence
4850 Makena Alanui
Check in with Destination Residences Hawaii 34 Wailea Gateway Place, Suite A102
Makena, HI 96753
Summary

In Makena, discover the awe and wonder of ancient lava flows, pristine shorelines and historical sites. Cobbled pathways amid lush gardens meander to secluded sandy beaches, swimming pools, tennis courts, herb gardens and expansive 2- and 3-bedroom vacation residences with oceanfront views.

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Wailea Elua Village Lanai View
Maui
Wailea Elua Village - A Destination Residence
3600 Wailea Alanui
Check in with Destination Residences Hawaii 34 Wailea Gateway Place, Suite A102
Wailea, HI 96753
Summary

In the heart of Wailea on popular Ulua Beach, enter into a serene paradise of manicured lawns and gardens with two pools, jetspa, paddle tennis, golf putting green and pavilion. Each one- to three-bedroom feature living/dining area, full kitchen and spacious outdoor lanai with personal BBQ grill.

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Aston at the Maui Banyan
Maui
Aston at the Maui Banyan
2575 S. Kihei Rd
Kihei, HI 96753
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This condominium resort is ideally located across from Kamaole Beach Park. Offers a variety of accommodations from hotel rooms to 3 bedroom suites. Access to swimming pools, outdoor bbq grills, tennis courts, and close to golf and the beach. Popular for families/large parties.

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Haleakala - Maui
Multi-Island
Sunshine Helicopters
1 Kahului Airport Road - Hangar 107
Kahului, HI 96732
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Sunshine Helicopters offers helicopter tours of Maui, Molokai, Big Island Hawaii and Kauai. With over 90% of the State of Hawaii accessible only by air, enjoy a helicopter ride and soar with us in the blue skies above the Hawaiian Islands aboard our state-of-the-art helicopters.

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