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 1 - 10 of 104
Hotel Coral Reef
Kauai
The Hotel Coral Reef
1516 Kuhio Highway
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

Since opening in 1956, Hotel Coral Reef has been part of life on the island of Kaua'i and our enviable beachfront location ensures you will enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted views and access to the breathtaking coastline of "'the garden island".

Websites
Standard Room with One King Bed, Ceiling Fan
Kauai
Kauai Palms Hotel
2931 Kalena Street
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

The Kauai Palms Hotel is clean, affordable and just 5 minutes from the Lihue Airport. Standard room rates start at $95/night. Deluxe rooms and rooms with kitchenettes and full kitchens are available. Walk to dining and the white sands and surf of Kalapaki Beach are just minutes away!

Websites
Main Pool
Kauai
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, a Marriott Autograph Collection Resort
2641 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Koloa Landing Resort offers the islands largest and newest luxury accommodations; ranging from deluxe studios to multi-bedroom villas. The property is also home to a 350,000-gallon pool, celebrity chef poolside bar & grill collaboration, full-service day spa, and many more world-class amenities.

Websites
Kauai Shores Signature
Kauai
Kauai Shores Hotel
420 Papaloa Road
Kapaa, HI 96746
Summary

Set oceanfront along Kauai's Coconut Coast guests enjoy newly remodeled guestrooms and public areas, new pool deck and hot tub, and a variety of amenities including nightly entertainment, complimentary yoga, bicycle rental, and more. Dine on the sand at award-winning Lava Lava Beach Club.

Websites
Pool
Kauai
Kauai Inn
2430 Hulemalu Road
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

On 3 tropical acres, this historic 48-unit plantation resort is 3 miles from airport by Kalapaki Beach. Access to golf, fishing, surfing, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, shops and dining. Comp continental breakfast.

Websites
3445 Wilcox Road
Kauai
Garden Island Inn
3445 Wilcox Road
Lihue, HI 96766
Summary

Ranked #1 on Trip Advisor Lihue Hotels 5 years in a row. Our wonderful local, ACCOMMODATING staff will welcome and treat you with friendly KAUAI OHANA ALOHA! We do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to make YOU feel welcome and assist you with making your visit special.

Websites
Hale Iki Cottage - One bedroom, one full bath, fully equipped home with kitchen & laundry
Kauai
17 Palms Kauai
414 Wailua Kai Street
Kapaa, HI 96746-9412
Summary

17 Palms Kauai is two vacation rental cottages in a garden setting named by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine as "One of the 20 perfect places to stay in Hawaii and #1 by Trip Advisor; Walk to Wailua Beach by foot path and many restaurants & shops.

Websites

Pages

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More