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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Kauai Vacations
Kauai
Kauai Vacations
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Our Kauai Hawaii vacation rentals are the perfect way to do just that from your own private place in paradise. Our friendly reservations professionals are eager to help you find the perfect rental! For more than 15 years, Ahh Aloha has helped our visitors make aloha memories that last a lifetime.

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Outfitters Kauai
Kauai
Outfitters Kauai
2827 Poipu Rd
Poipu Beach, HI 96756
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Enjoy the best Kauai water adventures and most exclusive parts of Kauai. Kayak or SUP to remote areas of Wailua and Hule'ia Rivers. Hike jungle trails through valleys to secluded pools and waterfalls on private Kipu Ranch. Sea kayak magnificent Napali Coast, or paddle the hidden beaches of Poipu.

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Beachfront Hale Awapuhi Villas, Kapaa, Kauai
Kauai
Premier Kauai Vacation Condos
4-1579 Kuhio Hwy
Suite #103
Kapaa, HI 96746
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Premier Kaua'i Vacation Rentals manages spacious 1 and 2 bedroom Condos on Kauai’s Coconut Coast. Choose from a wide variety of Condo units located at Lae Nani, Lanikai, Wailua Bay View, and Hale Awapuhi Villas. We provide direct bookings from our office centrally located in the Kapa'a/Wailua area.

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Wyndham Bali Hai Villas
Kauai
Wyndham Bali Hai Villas
4970 Pepelani Loop
Princeville, HI 96722
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Wyndham Bali Hai is located in the picturesque Princeville community and offers spacious one- and two-bedroom suites that are appointed with full kitchens, dining and living areas and washer/dryer combinations that enable you to enjoy the comforts of home in this tropical paradise.

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View From Private Lanai
Kauai
Waimea Plantation Cottages
9400 Kaumualii Highway
Waimea, HI 96796
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60 restored, plantation-era cottages spread across 27 acres of tropical oasis on Kauai's sunny west shore offer a rare glimpse into Old Hawaii. Full kitchens, private lanais, on quiet, beachfront property at the base of Waimea Canyon State Park. Relax, unwind, and embrace the experience.

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Kauai
Kauai Camper
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We are Kauai’s original camper van rental company, providing our renters with beautifully restored Volkswagen Westfalia full camper vans. We also offer a wide variety of tents, and camping supplies, including backpacking gear for hiking the Kalalau trail.

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