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 41 - 50 of 154
Dole plantation
Oahu
Oahu Outdoor Guides
Summary

Discover Oahu with Oahu Outdoor Guides - Tour the most popular Hawaiian Island with the Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour. This must-do tour covers most of the popular highlights of the island (besides Pearl Harbor separate tour) and adds some less visited gems along the tour.

Websites
lava glow
Hawaii
Hawaii Outdoor Guides
74-5577 Palani Rd
#811
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Discover Hawaii with Hawaii Outdoor Guides - Hike on an active volcano inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, through tropical and unique rain forests, along enchanting beaches and shores, and enjoy the spectacular sights of an island that has been shaped by lava and waterfalls.

Websites
Do Something Dirty!
Kauai
Kauai ATV
3477A Weliweli Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Come play in Kauai's lush tropical jungle on an easy to use all terrain vehicle. View rare wildlife and breathtaking vistas. Venture to secluded cascades in the heart of Kauai's south side. Join Kauai ATV for an experience of the road less traveled.

Websites
Hanalei Pier
Kauai
Best of Kauai Tour
Summary

See the best of Kauai in just a day. Take in breathtaking views, scenic Kauai beaches, waterfalls, Island history and culture, as well as local advice on the best things to do while visiting Kauai. The Best of Kauai Tour combines a land, riverboat and air tour for the absolute best value.

Websites
Bridge
Maui
Kapalua Ziplines
500 Office Road
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Maui's Ultimate Zipline Adventure is located high above the Kapalua Resort on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains. West Maui's only ALL dual zipline course is world-famous for its breathtaking views super long zips and technologically advanced equipment.

Websites
Scenic Oahu
Multi-Island
Roberts Hawaii
Summary

Looking for the best tour and transportation company in Hawaii? A locally owned and operated business since 1941 committed to the highest level of service with a genuine Aloha spirit? Look no further than Roberts Hawaii.

Websites

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More