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 - Wall of Tears
Maui
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
1 Kahului Airport Road
Hangar #105
Kahului, HI 96732
Summary

Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the incredible, 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Kahului.

Gingerhill Farm
Hawaii
Gingerhill Farm
81-6467 Mamalahoa Highway
Kealakekua, HI 96750
Summary

Gingerhill Farm Retreat is a farm community dedicated to exploring sustainability, self-sufficiency, and stewardship of the land. To these ends, we have transformed our lush five-acre plot into a verdant botanical food forest. We do accommodation, different activities and a farm tours.

Harvested cacao pods.
Hawaii
Mauna Kea Cacao
Summary

Tour our award-winning cacao farm and taste Hawaii chocolate. Pick a cacao pod, taste fresh cacao, learn how we ferment and dry cacao beans, and view DIY chocolate making equipment. Then enjoy chocolate made from our cacao by multiple bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Tours are Thursdays at 10 and 1.

Trident Adventures
Oahu
Trident Adventures
92-100 Waipahe Pl
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

Trident Adventures is a Navy SEAL owned adventure company who brings unique Navy SEAL experiences to the everyday adventurer. We dive deep water wrecks and reefs, offer certifications, enjoy snorkel tours, see dolphins and whales, and offer a 16ft floating "magic carpet" for the keiki.

Hawaii Surfboard Rentals
Oahu
Hawaii Surfboard Rentals
1901 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

A mobile surfboard rental company in Waikiki serving Honolulu, Hawaii with free islandwide surfboard drop off and pick up since 2005. Our surfboard rentals are in excellent condition and renting at some of the best prices on the island. We rent paddle boards, car racks, coolers and beach chairs too!

Kilohana Mansion
Kauai
Kilohana
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Kilohana Plantation is a historic landmark and premier visitor attraction offering visitors and locals a glimpse into Kauai’s past combined with assorted island-style activities, dining and shopping.

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