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Kauai Whale Watching

“Experience the majestic humpback whales acrobatic displays aboard Holo Holo!”

Kauai whale watching tours

Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate thousands of miles, moving seasonally between the polar waters of Russia, Alaska and Canada to the tropical waters of Mexico, Hawaii and Japan. They spend the summer months in the polar regions to feed, feed, feed—gaining weight and strength for their winters in the tropics—where they breed, calve and nurse their young.

It’s estimated that as many as 10,000- 12,000 humpback whales regularly migrate to Hawaii. The first ones typically show up in mid-October and the last ones leave as late as June, but the most reliable time to see the humpbacks is during peak season, from December to April.

Humpback whales are inquisitive and will often approach boats and provide a spectacular demonstration of some of their characteristic acrobatic behaviors including blows, breaching (our favorite!), spy hops, tail slaps, and “waving” of their pectoral fins.

Seeing these massive and magnificent creatures up close (yet in the wild) is exhilarating, humbling, and awe-inspiring. If we’re snorkeling and whales are within a couple of miles, it’s even possible to hear their underwater songs—extraordinary!

Please be our guest and let us take you and your loved ones on an unforgettable Kauai whale watching experience. While regular surface activity is almost a guarantee during peak season, we hope you understand that, as policy and as part of our voluntary participation in the NOAA-sponsored Dolphin Smart Program, safe and responsible viewing of all marine life is compulsory. Holo Holo Charters will never harass whales for our own gain; we want them to feel respected and welcome in Hawaii waters, so they continue coming back for generations to come.

Kauai whale watching tours

A member of the baleen whale suborder, the Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is large, even among whales: adults range between 12–16 meters (40–50 feet) long and weigh approximately 40,000 kilograms (44 tons). It is a favorite among whale watchers for its impressive size, acrobatic and spectacular breaching behavior (sometimes leaping completely out of the water), large fluke and unusually long pectoral (front) fins which are proportionally the longest fins of any cetacean. Want a chance to see a Humpback whale? Join a Kauai whale watching tours here


Humpback Whales are identified by their stocky bodies with obvious humps and black dorsal coloring. The long black and white tail fluke has a wavy trailing edge and can be up to a third of body length. The pectoral fins have unique patterns, which enable individual whales to be recognized. When exhaling through their blowholes, Humpbacks have a distinctive 3 meter (10 ft) heart-shaped to bushy blow.


The species feeds only in summer and lives off fat reserves during winter. It is an energetic feeder, taking krill and small schooling fish, such as herring, capelin, and sand lance. It will hunt fish by direct attack or by stunning them by hitting the water with its large flippers or flukes.

Its most inventive feeding technique is called bubble net fishing. A group of whales will blow bubbles while swimming to create a visual barrier against fish, while one or more whales in the group make vocalizations that drive the fish against the wall. The bubble wall is then closed, encircling the fish and confining them to an ever-tighter area. The whales then suddenly swim upwards and through the bubble net, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp. This technique can involve a ring of bubbles up to 30 meters (100 feet) in diameter and the cooperation of a dozen animals at once. It is perhaps the most spectacular act of cooperation among marine mammals.

Like other large whales, the humpback was and is a target for the whaling industry. Due to over-hunting, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a whaling moratorium was introduced in 1966. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the humpback whale population has since partially recovered with at least 80,000 humpback whales worldwide. Entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution remain concerns.

Kauai whale watching tours