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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Mystery Maui escape room logo
Maui
Mystery Maui Escape Room
81 N. Market Street, 2nd Floor
Wailuku, HI 96793
Summary

Mystery Maui Escape Room is a live, physical adventure game where players find clues in themed spaces to open locks and solve the mystery of the room within 60 minutes. It's an ideal indoor, rainy-day or late-night activity that is fun for couples, families or co-workers.

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Dolphin Encounter
Oahu
Sea Life Park Hawaii
41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy
Waimanalo, HI 96795
Summary

With a focus on conservation and education, this East Oahu attraction is a great place to meet dolphins, sea lions, green sea turtles, rays, native fish and more. It's small enough to enjoy on foot, yet diverse enough to be a full-day attraction, and is also home to the top rated luau on Oahu.

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Tradewinds1
Oahu
Maita'i Catamaran
2255 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 3404
Boards all sails on the beach behind the Sheraton Waikiki
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Waikiki Beach sailing catamaran. Tradewind Sails $39, Sunset Maitai Sail $49 includes drinks, Mahina Moonlight Sail $49 includes drinks. Special child rates! Charters, parties, groups welcome! Boards all sails on the beach behind the Sheraton Waikiki.

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Hula at the Center
Oahu
Still & Moving Center
1024 Queen St.
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Still & Moving Center is the most comprehensive mind body movement center in Honolulu. An international training facility, we offer corporate or private, wellness & Hawaiian cultural packages and retreats, movement classes/workshops/performers, personalized coaching and bodywork services.

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GERMAINE'S LUAU WAHINE ON BEACH
Oahu
Germaine's Luau
91-119 Olai St
Kapolei, HI 96707
Summary

At our Luau Site, step back in time 100 years to the Hawaii of yesterday and "Experience Ohana" as you dine under palm trees and stars at our beach while being entertained Hawaiian-style. We also offer professional Polynesian entertainment for weddings, parties and conventions at your event space.

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Oahu - Pearl Harbor
Oahu
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
99 Kaulele Pl
Hangar #105
Honolulu, HI 96819
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. Daily departures from Honolulu and Ko Olina.

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Kanu Hawaii
Oahu
Kanu Hawaii
1050 Queen Street, Suite 100
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Kanu Hawaii provides tools and opportunities for people to connect with one another — to take action that builds more compassionate and resilient communities across Hawaii.

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Teruya Pavillion
Oahu
Hawaii Okinawa Center
94-587 Ukee St
Waipahu, HI 96797
Summary

The Hawaii Okinawa Center (HOC) is the “home” of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association. The Hawaii United Okinawa Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to promote, perpetuate and preserve Okinawan culture. For more information, visit www.huoa.org.

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Haleakala - Maui
Multi-Island
Sunshine Helicopters
1 Kahului Airport Road - Hangar 107
Kahului, HI 96732
Summary

Sunshine Helicopters offers air tours of Maui, Molokai, Big Island Hawaii and Kauai. Over 90% of the State of Hawaii is accessible only by helicopter. Soar with us in the blue skies above the Hawaiian Islands aboard our "Black Beauty" state-of-the-art helicopters.

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Kenny G
Oahu
Blue Note Hawaii
2335 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Hawaii's premier venue for live music in the most intimate setting, 365 days a year, two shows nightly! Kenny G, Chaka Khan, and Maxi Priest have already graced the Blue Note stage. Enjoy local contemporary cuisine and cocktails from our full service bar and restaurant.

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