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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Oahu
Atlantis Submarines
Beachfront Ticket Office
Hilton Hawaiian Village 2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
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Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience off the shorelines of Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island, giving guests a close-up view of an array of marine life, exotic tropical reefs and numerous sunken vessels.

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Oahu
Travel to Paradise
111 Hekili St . Suite A-353
Kailua, HI 96734
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As Hawaii vacation experts, we offer personalized, customized travel arrangements to Maui, Kauai, Oahu, the Big Island of Hawaii, Molokai and Lanai. Living in the islands gives us the first hand experience and knowledge necessary to become your travel advocates.

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YMT Vacations - Snorkeling
Multi-Island
YMT Vacations
400 Continental Blvd. Ste.200
Array
El Segundo, CA 90245
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YMT Vacations started in 1967 as “Your Man Tours” arranging tours to Hawaii for veterans of foreign wars. The “Your Man” was a reference to our Polynesian guides who greeted guests. Today we are known as YMT Vacations to reflect worldwide expertise in North America, Alaska, Hawaii and Europe.

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Hawaii Nautical 1
Oahu
Hawaii Nautical
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Come enjoy Dolphins, Sailing, Snorkeling, Whale-Watching, Scuba, Sunset & Fireworks Dinner Cruises, Private Charters and more. Oahu's Ko Olina coast & Waikiki, Kona-Kohala, & Hilton Hawaiian Village with "Port Waikiki Cruises."The captains, crew and family of Hawaii Nautical welcome you aboard!

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Delta Vacations
Oahu
Delta Vacations
700 South Central Avenue
Department 468
Atlanta, GA 30354
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Delta Vacations offers convenient, affordable vacations that combine Delta Air Lines® or Delta's codeshare partner flights with hotel stays, rental car, sightseeing and entertainment, escorted tours, and more.

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Multi-Island
Maui Wellness Coach
2575 S. Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
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Aloha! I'm Joanne Rose, an International Certified Health & Wellness Coach. I help people reverse chronic illness through a whole foods plant-based diet, so that they will have more energy, vitality and longevity to be around for their loved ones. https://www.mauiwellnesscoach.com

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Adventure Boat
Oahu
The Adventure Boat
1651 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96815
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Escape the crowds and join us on private cruise you won’t soon forget. Go faster and farther than anyone else in town on a private charter for spectacular coastal sightseeing tours, incredible sea life (turtles, fish, dolphins, and whales—in season), and snorkeling. The adventure is up to you!

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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
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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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