Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 52: Which of these locations is best to watch humpback whales from Big Island shores?

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

A humpback mother and her calf. (Photo courtesy: Moore/Permit 15240)

Humpback whales were listed in 1970 as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Conservation Act.

It would be nearly 50 years, in 2016, before populations rebounded enough for koholā — including those that migrate 3,000 miles every year during the winter to the waters of Hawai’i to mate, calve and nurse their young — to be removed from the list.

The most read story on Big Island Now in January was about the thousands of humpbacks volunteers spotted from several locations throughout the state, including 10 active sites on the Big Island, during 4 hours the morning of Jan. 27 as part of the Sanctuary Ocean Count by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation.


With more whales in the water, that means more chances to spot them while they’re here, especially during the peak humpback season from January through March.

Social media has been flush recently with photos and posts from people who have watched the whales playing and swimming in waters around the Big Island.

A photo and video in a public Facebook post from Feb. 20 by Timothy Preap show a humpback saying hello as it surfaces while he was working out at sea: “Insaneee!! What a day,” he said.


“Whales!” exclaimed Steven Groce in a Feb. 16 post in the Hawai’i Tracker Facebook group with three photos showing one koholā breaching and others flapping their tails. “Blessed yesterday … with quite a show from the Humpback Whales, right from the Lanai. East Coast, Big Island. Whale season would normally be winding down; but it seems to be in full force, with more Whales this week, than I have seen in 8 years!”

Nancy Cook Lauer said in a Feb. 15 public Facebook post that she’s observed more humpbacks in waters outside her condo this year than usual.

“I love it! A wonderful assortment of humpback tail slapping and vocalizations keeping me awake last night,” said Cook Lauer. “I think the true songs can be heard only underwater — I’ve heard them while I’m snorkeling — but these above-water chirpy moans are something else.”


Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer Suzy Lauer, who is site leader at the Onekahakaha Beach Park count location in Hilo, said her team during the second count day of the year Feb. 24 even spotted one koholā that put on a show with 30-some tail slaps.

It seems you can observe the marine mammals from just about any of the island’s shorelines if you’re patient enough, but we want to know what you think is the most prime humpback viewing spot on land.

Press Here to Take the Poll

Leave a comment here or on social media to tell us why you voted the way you did or if you have another location you think is the best. If you have photos of humpbacks you’d like to share with your comments, attach them and we will include them with the poll results.

Big Island Now is restructuring its polls, moving from weekly to monthly, so this poll ends at midnight March 29. Poll results will be published March 31.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments