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


Big Island:
Lapakahi State Historical Beach Park

Perched on lava-rock terrain overlooking Koaie Cove, on the Big Island’s northwestern shore, the Lapakahi State Historical Park is a restored 14th-century Hawaiian fishing village. On the northwest side of the park is an elevated bluff where you can catch amazing sunsets and humpback whales basking in the warm water of the protected marine reserve.

(Turn off Akoni Pule Highway between Kawaihae and Hawi.)


Hale O Lono Harbor

Located on the southwest end of Molokai, down a dirt road heading south from Maunaloa Town, you will find the Haleo Lono harbor. The beach is rugged, and you’re likely to find only a few fishermen on the shoreline. The relatively shallow water in the area is a favorite place for whales to frolic.

(From Maunaloa town, head south beyond paved road onto dirt road. Head left at fork in road and drive to end of the road.)



Puu Olai

Of all the islands, Maui is known for having the highest concentration of humpback whales, especially off its south and west shores. Puu Olai, located south of Wailea, overlooks Makena Beach. A 15-minute climb up this 360-foot volcanic cinder cone will take you to the perfect elevation to see pods of whales traveling past Molokini and up Alalakeiki Channel. The whales often come close to shore to breed and give birth.

(Turn off Makena Road into Makena State Park's "Big Beach." The trail to the summit begins at "Big Beach.")

(A version of this feature was originally published in the October 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

Photos: Wikipedia Commons (pg. 1, top; pg. 1, bottom), Derek Paiva (pg. 1, middle), Big Island Visitor Bureau (pg. 2, top), Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Ron Garnett (pg. 2, bottom)

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
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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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