Humpback Whales | An Island Treasure

They’re back! Just like clockwork traveling to their own internal schedule the first humpback whales have returned to the Hawaiian islands, spotted off the island of Hawaii about 14 nautical miles south of Kailua-Kona in late September and off the coast of Kauai on October 2nd. This years sighting of two juveniles was several weeks earlier than last year when the first humpback was spotted off the coast of Maui on October 20. In our winter season, whale watching from the beach or on the deck of a charter boat is one of the best things to do in Kauai.

Spotting whales is a great thing to do on kauai

Humpback Whales Have Returned For The Winter Season


Generally whale season runs from November through May but it is not unusual for the whales to be sighted in October. To be spotted this early in the season is quite unusual, however, humpback whale experts muse that they may be in Hawaiian waters this early every year, but we just have not spotted them. Approximately twelve thousand whales spend the winter here each year. Kauai gets its fair share of these giants, in fact last year in March a whale gave birth in the cove only 100 yards from our vacation rentals.

Every year, the Kohola, as they are called in Hawaiian, leave the rich feeding grounds of the Gulf of Alaska and journey south. Generally they split into three groups with approximately 20% heading to the southern islands of Japan, another group heads to the Baja coast of Mexico, and approximately 60% head to Hawaii.

Typically the juveniles will start off on the journey which takes 4-8 weeks followed by adult males, adult females, and lastly pregnant females. The whales will stay for up to 6 months to give birth and begin new generations around the main islands, an area that constitutes one of the more important whale habitats in the world. Residing and fasting in these warm waters the whales will lose up to 25% of their weight relying only upon their deep layers of blubber to sustain them. Only the calves will eat well, gaining the strength required for the long journey back to Alaska.

Whale watching tours have become an important local industry and it also offers an important educational moment for our visitors. Knowledgeable crews and captains will make your sight seeing trip truly memorable. Most of the charter boats depart from Port Allen located just 20 minutes from Turtle Cove Suites. We have sailed on Captain Andy’s, Blue Dolphin, and HoloHolo Charters and have had fantastic days watching these gentle giants.

Please leave a comment about your whale sightings around Hawaii, we would love to read about them. If you enjoyed our web post please click and share the article with your friends on Facebook and Google.

Whale Birth in Keawaloa Bay

About Joe Sylvester

Aloha! I have lived on Kauai for 33 years where I have worked as an Agronomist for 17 years, owned an art gallery for 11 years and own a vacation rental for 17 years in the town of Poipu. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer and have been married since 1985.
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