Hawaii Whale Watching & Hawaii's Humpback Whale Season | Go Hawaii
Whale Watching

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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Ocean Course Hokuala's 15th green and it's spectacular setting.
Kauai
The Ocean Course at Hokuala
3351 Hoolaulea Way
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

The Ocean Course winds its way through a mango and guava tree forest, down to the edge of the Pacific, with the finishing green in the midst of a 40-acre freshwater lagoon. Named one of the most beautiful courses in the world by MSN Travel, for the avid golfer, it is reason enough stay and play.

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Shop interior
Kauai
Kauai Bound
3366 Waapa Rd.
Suite 508 Anchor Cove Shopping Center
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Kauai Bound is a locally owned snorkel, golf, underwater camera, and beach rental and retail shop located in Lihue at Anchor Cove Shopping Center. We carry quality dry snorkels with silicone masks, new Wilson golf sets, underwater cameras, and more!

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Puakea Golf Course
Kauai
Puakea Golf Course
4150 Nuhou Street
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Kauai's newest 18 holes, Puakea Golf Course, is a spectacular experience. Framed by the Pacific Ocean, Mount Haupu and the tropical landscape that served as the set for Jurassic Park, Puakea treats golfers to magical Kauai golf.

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Hualalai Resort
Hawaii
Hualalai Golf Club
72-100 Kaupulehu Dr
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

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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