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 41 - 50 of 66
Island Star - Private Sailing Charters Maui
Maui
Island Star Sailing
Slip 42, Maalaea Harbor
Maalaea, HI 96793
Summary

Island Star is a luxurious 57' private charter sailing yacht that can accommodate up to 18 guests. We specialize in half and full day charters as well as weddings and special events. When you charter the Island Star you can snorkel, scuba dive, whale watch, or "sail" as much as you like.

Websites
Fireknife Trio
Maui
Drums of the Pacific Luau
200 Nohea Kai Drive
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Experience Polynesian culture at the Drums of the Pacific Luau located at the Hyatt Regency Maui. Enjoy song and dance from the islands of Polynesia, including an all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional island fare, authentic imu ceremony, and three-man Samoan fire-knife dance, all oceanside.

Websites
Manta ray
Hawaii
Kona Ocean Experience
78-7130 Kaleiopapa St
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Kona Ocean Experience offers quality small group boat excursions to interact with/observe dolphins, whales, manta rays & other amazing marine life, snorkel above the reefs in the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay, learn about Hawaiian Culture, folklore & history of the beautiful Kona Coast area.

Websites
Na Pali Sail
Kauai
Blue Dolphin Charters
4353 Waialo Road
Port Allen, HI 96705
Summary

No visit to Kauai is complete without an adventure on Na Pali Coast! Blue Dolphin Charters is proud to run the two largest motor sailing catamarans on Kauai specializing in tours of Na Pali Coast and the forbidden island of Niihau. Let our outstanding crew make your trip an unforgettable experience!

Websites
Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu Exterior View - Day
Oahu
Hard Rock Cafe - Honolulu
280 Beach Walk
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located on the world famous Waikiki Beach Walk, An open air venue which features veranda seating and a blue wave bar for a truly unique dining experience featuring our world famous LEGENDARY Steak Burgers and Signature Cocktails. Live Music daily from 9am - 11am and 9pm - 11pm!

Websites
Serendipity in Waikiki
Oahu
Captain Bruce Yacht Charters
2250 Kalakaua Ave #404-3
Waikiki Shopping Plaza 4F
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

For over 35 years Captain Bruce has become a celebrity name in the maritime industry in Hawaii. Every guest is unique, making each charter completely customizable. Nothing is impossible. With captain and crew on every charter, guests are guaranteed luxury hospitality that match their surroundings.

Websites
Whale watching
Oahu
Wild Side Specialty Tours
87-1002 Hakimo Place Unit C.
Waianae Small Boat Harbor
Waianae, HI 96792
Summary

Oahu's only marine-biologist founded and led ocean wildlife tours. Small group (6-10 passengers) charters include year-round whale watching, swimming with dolphins, and snorkeling with giant sea turtles and endemic tropical reef fish. Portion of proceeds donated to marine conservation orgs.

Websites

Learn More About The Cultural Significance Of Whales in Hawaii

Read More

Learn About Ocean Safety in Hawaii

Find out More