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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Ulua Beach, Wailea, Maui
Maui
Rentals Maui Inc.
2395 S. Kihei Rd. #201
Kihei, HI 96753
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Rentals Maui proudly offers over 225 fully equipped condos in Maui for every taste and budget. Each condo can be individually chosen and booked online. We offer great rates and are based in Maui should you need assistance while on island.

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Sunny Maui Vacations
Maui
Sunny Maui Vacations
1215 S. Kihei Road Ste O #210
Kihei, HI 96753
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“Creating exceptional vacation experiences, one guest at a time.” Sunny Maui Condos is a boutique vacation rental agency in South Maui offering a first-class alternative to resort accommodations, excellent value and personalized “Wailea Class” service in the same comforts and conveniences of home.

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Poipu Beach Cottage Rental
Kauai
Poipu 365
5404 Koloa Road
Koloa, HI 96756
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Poipu 365 is a boutique Vacation Rental Company. The office is in close proximity to its fine selection of homes and condos in Poipu Beach, Kauai. Vicki Agor, owner of Poipu365 is a real estate agent that offers property management and marketing services.

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Marriott's Maui Ocean Club Napili Villas
Maui
Maui Resort Rentals
10 Halawai Dr #A-3
Lahaina, HI 96761
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We manage an exclusive collection Honua Kai vacation rentals along with Kaanapali's most sought after luxury fractional timeshare rentals. Our featured properties are The Honua Kai Resort, The Kaanapali Ali'i, Marriott's Maui Ocean Club, The Westin Villas, The Hyatt Residence Club, and The Whaler.

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Lanikai Penthouse at beautiful Lanikai Beach!
Oahu
Lanikai Beach Rentals
1277 Mokulua Drive
Kailua, HI 96734-3249
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Since 1985, we have been offering vacation accommodates to guests from around the world! We are proud members of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, Kailua Chamber of Commerce and the BBB with an A+ Rating, and we are the current #1 position on TripAdvisor on the island of Oahu!

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Leeward Coast Beach Sunset
Oahu
Ola Properties, Inc.
890 Kamokila Blvd.
Suite 102
Kapolei, HI 96707
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Ola Properties is a full service real estate sales and property management company on Oahu. Specializing in Ko Olina Resort, Makaha and the Leeward Coast, we have luxurious homes for sale as well as vacation rentals, corporate housing, long-term rentals.

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