Why do whales come to Hawaii?

From December to early May the humpback whales call Hawaii home. Traveling an incredible 3,000 miles of ocean in less than two-months time, these gentle giants migrate from the gulf of Alaska to Hawaii for breeding and birthing in the islands' warm and shallow waters. Their annual migration delights both visitors and residents alike during the peak of their numbers between January and early April.

What are humpback whales?
Weighing up to 45 tons, these whales can be graceful acrobats. Seeing a humpback whale "breach" the ocean by propelling its 45-foot long body out of the sea is a spectacular event. Their mysterious whale song is yet another intriguing trait of male humpback whales. These complex songs can be heard underwater from up to twelve miles away.

Called "kohola" by Hawaiians, humpback whales are treated with great respect. Some Native Hawaiians believe that the kohola is an aumakua, or family guardian, so they have high regard for these special visitors. Because humpback calves are actually born in Hawaiian waters, the whales are considered kamaaina, or native born.

How do I see whales in Hawaii?
Whale-watching tours let you see Hawaii's humpbacks for yourself. Regulations forbid boats from approaching within 100 yards of a whale, but you'll still get close enough to marvel at these magnificent creatures. You can whale watch from every island, but the calm, clear waters of the Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai may be one of the best places in the world to see Hawaii's humpbacks. If you don't go on a boat tour, you can often see whales from the shore. Remember to keep your eyes open during the height of whale watching season.

The humpback is still on the endangered species list, but efforts to protect these gentle giants have increased their overall population. In fact, Hawaii's humpback whale population may have doubled over the last ten years. Roughly 6,000 to 8,000 humpback whales visit Hawaii each year and current studies may increase those estimates. Because of this, there may never have been a better time to go whale watching in Hawaii.