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HAWAII Magazine's Landlubber's Guide to Whale Watching in the Islands


The months between November and May are whale-watching season in Hawaii.

Nearly 10,000 humpback whales make the long journey from the waters off southeastern Alaska to mate, give birth and nurse their calves in warm Hawaiian waters, where they are protected. They linger until late April or early May.

They best way to see them up close is typically a whale-watching tour. But in recent years, there’s been such an increase in the number of whales populating the channels between the Hawaiian Islands that it’s hardly uncommon to spot them from the shore.

Here are some scenic outlooks on each island that will increase your chances of seeing the majestic mammals breaching and spouting in the blue Pacific:


Kilauea Lighthouse

Kauai’s historic North Shore lighthouse has been a beacon for mariners since 1913. It is now part of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Between November and May there is a good chance you will see humpback whales spouting, breeching and slapping a half-mile offshore from the lighthouse. The elevated peninsula also offers a spectacular view of Mokuaeae Island, a favorite place for lounging monk seals.

(Turn off Kuhio Highway onto Kilauea Road; proceed to end of the Kilauea Road.)



Makapuu Point

Located on the easternmost point of Oahu, the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail winds up along a 600-foot sea cliff. This 2-mile trail offers an amazing view of the Windward Side of Oahu and the island of Moloka‘i in the distance. The channel below is a popular route for humpback whales migrating back to their feeding grounds in Alaska. Using the telescopes provided by the state park, watch for sudden poufs of misty spray, as the whales catch a breath after a long dive.

(Lookout is just off Kalanianaole Highway after Waimanalo—approaching from the north—and Sandy Beach—approaching from the south.)

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
First humpback of Hawaii whale watching season spotted off Maui
The humpbacks are back! Our guide for Hawaii whale watching season
Hawaii humpbacks celebrated at Whale Day on Maui this weekend
Pacific Whale Foundation's "Maui Whale Fest" salutes Hawaii’s 45-ton winter visitor

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