Whale Watching in Hawaii

Whale watching is fast becoming one of the most popular activities in Hawaii. Most of us have seen whales on TV, but it is not until you get up close to one of these huge creatures in their natural habitat that you can truly appreciate their size and remarkable grace.

Whales can be witnessed from all of the islands in Hawaii, but the real whale congregating spot is Maui, where as many as 5,000 humpback whales (50% - 60% of the world’s humpback population) migrate each winter. They come to Maui to get away from Alaska’s cool winters, to meet other whales, and to bear offspring.  The 30 to 40 ton humpback whales start arriving in Hawaiian waters in November and are seen until the first part of April.

Whale Antics

 Above water whale antics include: Spy hops, breaches, fluking, tail slaps and pec slaps.

Whale Behavior

Humpbacks are most plentiful off Maui - where thousands of savvy visitors head each winter for the annual whale migration - but humpbacks are visible from all islands. The best places to see them from O'ahu are the North Shore, the Windward coast and between Wai'anae and Ka'ena Point on the Leeward side. Late January, February and March are considered peak viewing times.

The humpback whales are hard to miss. Fully grown females - which are bulkier than the males - can weigh 45 tons and reach 60 feet. Their 15-foot flippers, the longest of any whale, have earned the humpback species the name Megaptera or "great-winged." The term humpback comes from the hump on the forward part of the dorsal fin and the way the back flexes upward before they dive.  The area channel between Lanai, Molokai and Maui - known as "the humpback highway is the most productive area for whale watching.  Most often, You can see the whales right from your own lanai in your hotel.
Whale Watching Locations

How do you spot a whale?

Scan the horizon watching for a cloud of "smoke" that rises 10-20 feet above the the ocean.  Be patent and watch the general area of the "smoke" for a few minutes.  Whales need to breath every seven to fifteen minutes and the "smoke" is water vapor exhaled from their blow hole.