Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 52 results: Vote evenly spread for best place to spot humpback whales from island shores

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One of the most memorable lines from “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is when the U.S.S. Enterprise’s chief engineer Scotty exclaims to then-Adm. James T. Kirk, “There be whales here!” after beaming two humpback whales into a modified cargo hold on a stolen Klingon starship.

Humpback whales had been extinct for a few hundred years by the 23rd century, so the fugitive Enterprise crew time traveled back to 1986 San Francisco with plans for bringing two of the animals into the future to stop an alien probe from destroying Earth.

Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Service

The only beings that could communicate with the probe were humpbacks.

The whales saved the day in the end, talking to the probe once they were released from the cargo bay following the Klingon ship crash landing in the Pacific Ocean near 23rd century San Francisco upon the Enterprise crew’s return from 1986.

The female, named Gracie, also gave birth following their voyage home, perhaps beginning the future repopulation of the species.

Fortunately in our timeline, koholā were removed from the federal Endangered Species Conservation Act in 2016, nearly 50 years after being listed.


Their populations — 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 — have continued to recover during the past 40 years since the whaling era ended.

Despite a decline in 2015 and 2016, numbers of whales seen during humpback season in Hawai’i from November through May have rebounded as well. Some estimate about 10,000 to 12,000 koholā pass through the Hawaiian Islands every year.

Scotty’s excitement seeing the majestic animals for the first time in his life is understandable. The glee of people witnessing humpbacks in Hawai’i waters from the first sighting of the season to the last is more than apparent, especially during its peak from January through March.

Post after post on social media can be found as people in the islands take pictures of the whales swimming, breaching, tail slapping and more while they’re here.

With more whales in the water, there’s that many more chances to spot them — not just from a boat but also from land. So Big Island Now asked in its most recent poll where readers think is the best locale to see the whales from the island’s shores.


The results were pretty evenly spread across the board.

Kapa‘a Beach Park received the most votes with 158. It was followed by Hualālai (Four Seasons Resort) with 142, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach Park with 123 votes, Hawaiian Paradise Park with 115 and Old Coast Guard Road rounded out the top 5 with 110 votes.

Here are the full results.

  • Kapa‘a Beach Park: 158 (14%).
  • Hualālai (Four Seasons Resort): 142 (13%).
  • Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach Park: 123 (11%).
  • Hawaiian Paradise Park: 115 (10%).
  • Old Coast Guard Road: 110 (10%).
  • Onekahakaha Beach Park: 109 (10%).
  • Keahole Point (OTEC): 107 (9%).
  • Hōnaunau: 80 (7%).
  • Kumukahi Lighthouse: 77 (7%).
  • Ho‘okena Beach Park: 67 (6%).

Total votes: 1,088.

Some voters also offered their own spots as the best to watch the whales.


“By the Buddha statue at the Hilton Waikōloa Resort,” said Laura Page Mills in a Facebook comment.

Lynne Stanker said in another Facebook comment that she mostly saw them with their babies in the shallower areas off the island’s Kohala Coast.

“We just came back from the Big Island. We stayed at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel,” said Vivian Schuler in a Facebook comment. “Every morning between 8:00 am and noon, these magnificent creatures would put on a world class show.”

Schuler counted a total of 50 sightings during the 9 days she was visiting the island. She took a whale watching tour while she was here and only saw 7.

“We would sit at the Coconut Grove area of the beach and watch the whales breech,” she said. “The Fairmont was the best sighting hands down.”

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