The incredible rush of seeing these majestic creatures leap into the air, blowing spouts of water and slapping their enormous tails, lures locals and visitors from around the world to Kauai’s shores time and time again. Interested in this must-see natural attraction? Grab your binoculars and get ready to explore the best places for whale watching on Kauai.
The Kohola’s Cultural Significance
The Hawaiian Islands are the principal breeding and calving ground for the humpback whale. As such, these whales are considered native-born Hawaiians by the people who live here and are welcomed back each year as if it were a homecoming.
In the Hawaiian culture, there is the belief that the whales are aumakua, an ancestral spirit guardian. According to belief, the aumakua make an appearance in the lives of their descendants to provide spiritual guidance. This gentle wisdom of the kohola has always been honored by traditional culture, and further strengthens a deep-rooted connection with the ocean.
Best Times to Spot a Humpback
From December to April, thousands of whales swim more than 3,000 miles from Alaska to the Hawaiian waters. While kohola can be spotted throughout the winter, the peak months are January and February.
As for the time of day, the whales are active at all times from dawn to dusk. The wind, however, is generally gentler in the morning and calm waters can make it easier to see them. Your best bet? Keep your binoculars in easy reach at all times and take a tour when it best suits you.
Watch them by land
Get ready to be amazed. The coasts of Kauai offer several ideal vantage points to watch humpback whales. Pack a picnic or just sit back with a cool drink and take in the incredible sights.
Poipu beaches on the South Shore offer prime viewing of humpback whales in the distance, but also picnic facilities, gentle, crystal-clear waters for snorkeling and the occasional Hawaiian monk seal appearance.
Kilauea Point Lighthouse, perched 200 feet high on a cliff at the northernmost tip of the island, offers panoramic views of the deep blue Pacific and the kohola who frolic in its waves.
Adventurers can spot whales while trekking the Napali Coast’s Kalalau Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the cliffs as well as 180-degree ocean views.
Kapaa Scenic Overlook is easily accessible by car and has an incredible, expansive view. This is one of the areas where the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary conducts its annual whale count.
See them by Sea
A whale watching chartered boat trip is a one-of-a-kind pleasure. The sheer excitement when a massive 40-ton whale emerges from the depth or jumps into the air will leave you awe-struck. Seeing the newborn calves frolic and play up-close is magical. Not to mention the backdrop of the incredible Kauai coastline.
A variety cruises and charters are available, with many offering light pupus (appetizers), cocktails, wine and champagne. Whether you’re interested in a morning charter or a romantic sunset cruise, we’re happy to connect you with an experience that you will never forget.