Big Island Snorkling Tours Blog

Hawaii’s Humpback Whales

Humpback whale with baby


Winter is coming and with it, the return of the Humpback Whales in Hawaii.  Join our excellent crew on the Hoku Nui for a snorkel tour and you may be lucky enough to see one on the way out to your tour.

Humpback whales are a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, and for good reason. Each year, from December to May, an estimated 12,000 humpback whales migrate to the warm, shallow waters around the Hawaiian Islands to breed, calve, and nurse their young.

The whales travel an average of 3,000 miles from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. The journey is long and arduous, but it is worth it for the opportunity to find mates and raise their young in a safe and nurturing environment.

While in Hawaii, the whales do not feed. They spend their time socializing, courting, and raising their calves. Humpback whales are known for their playful behavior, and it is not uncommon to see them breaching, lobtailing, and spyhopping.  Spyhopping is when the whale holds itself vertically with its’ head above the surface of the water by kicking it’s tail fluke.  Some can do this for minutes at a time.

The humpback whale population in Hawaii is recovering well. In the 1960s, the population was down to just a few thousand individuals. However, thanks to conservation efforts, the population has rebounded to over 20,000 whales.

If you are lucky enough to visit Hawaii during the winter months, be sure to take a whale watching tour. It is an unforgettable experience to see these majestic creatures up close.

Here are some additional facts about humpback whales in Hawaii:

  • The whales are named for the hump on their backs, which they use to breach and slap the water.
  • Humpback whales are the most vocal of all whales. The males sing complex songs that can last for up to 20 minutes.
  • The whales are an important part of the Hawaiian culture. They are often featured in Hawaiian mythology and art.


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