Though the whales always arrive during the winter season in Hawaii the actual date of the first whale to be spotted can vary widely. This year the magic date was September 15th. This is a bit early as the first sightings are usually in October but it is not the earliest as the record for the earliest arrival was on August 30th of 2012. These first whales spotted always arrive well before the main migration but there is no doubt that the majority of them are on their way and the others are just getting ready to begin their journey.
It will take roughly 8 weeks for this army of Humpback Whales, fully 10,000 strong, to make their journey 3000 miles across the Pacific and arrive from their home grounds in Alaska and Canada. They are on a continuous advance traveling at an average speed of 3-5 mph somehow navigating themselves miraculously across the huge expanses of ocean to find themselves at journey’s end at the ideal spot for a winter vacation, the Hawaiian Islands. Once here they will rejoice in the warm waters, swim casually about and play, they will mate and they will bear their young. For all intents and purposes it would seem that this is a joyous time in the life of a whale not unlike the joyous times we humans enjoy on our pilgrimages to Hawaii.
If all goes as planned, huge numbers of whales will be arriving in Hawaii in December with the vast amount of whale activity being seen here in January, February and March. They will be seen throughout all the islands in the state from the Big Island in the south to Kauai to the north but the largest grouping will likely be seen throughout the shallow underwater passageways of Maui County between the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kaho’olawe.
When you visit Hawaii this winter be certain to set aside a couple of hours to take a whale watch to see these magnificent marine mammals. Between December 15th and roughly Easter, we have whale watching tours on all varieties of vessels available on all islands almost continuously from morning to sunset.