Each year Kohala, the Hawaiian Humpback whales, swim from Alaskan feeding grounds to the warm waters of Hawaii. They come to Hawaii every winter, seeking refuge from sub-freezing temperatures up north. They bask in the warm, hospitable waters of every island, to the delight of appreciative Island residents. From December to early May the humpback whales make it down to Hawaii traveling an incredible 3,000 miles of ocean in less than two-months time, one of the longest migration distances of any animal species. These gentle giants migrate from the gulf of Alaska to Hawaii for breeding and birthing in the islands’ warm and shallow waters. Their annual migration delights both visitors and residents alike during the peak of their numbers between January and early April. The main reason for their trip to the warm Hawaiian waters is to give birth to new calves. Helped by its mother, a newborn Humpback instinctively swims to the surface within 10 seconds for its first breath. Within 30 minutes of birth the whale is able to swim, frequently riding in its mother’s slip-stream.
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Hawaii Humpback whales are mammals belonging to the order Cetacea, which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The common name “Humpback” refers to the high arch of their backs when the whales dive. A Humpback whales' pectoral fins are up to 15 feet in length with a bone structure similar to that of the human hand and arm. Weighing up to 45 tons, these whales can be graceful acrobats. Seeing a humpback whale “breach” the ocean by propelling its 45-foot long body out of the sea is a spectacular event. Their mysterious whale song is yet another intriguing trait of male humpback whales. These complex songs can be heard underwater from up to twelve miles away. Whales employ an internal system of air sinuses and bones to detect sound because they lack external ears. Called “Kohala” by Hawaiians, humpback whales are treated with great respect. In Hawaiian mythology the whale is a manifestation of Kanaloa, the god of the sea. Some Native Hawaiians believe that the Kohala is an aumakua, or family guardian, so they have high regard for these special visitors. Because humpback calves are actually born in Hawaiian waters, the whales are considered kamaaina, or native born.
Whale Watching Tours
Put your whale watching experience in the hands of a researcher who has studied whales his whole life: Dan McSweeney. He personally conducts the only whale watching company on Hawai'i island that actively supports and protects Hawaii's whales. Dan's life-long commitment to whale research, education and conservation has furthered the understanding of these magnificent creatures. This important work focuses not only on migratory humpback whales, but also on all of the many other species of whales who make Hawai'i their home year 'round. For more information about Dan's whale tours, go here.
All cetaceans, including whales, dolphins and porpoises, are descendants of land-dwelling mammals. The whale is related to the Indohyus, an extinct semi-aquatic deer-like ungulate, from which they split around 54 million years ago. Like all mammals, whales breathe air, are warm-blooded, nurse their young with milk from mammary glands, and have body hair. The female usually delivers a single calf, which is birthed tail-first to minimize the risk of drowning. Whale cows nurse by actively squirting milk into the mouths of their young. This milk is so rich in fat that it has the consistency of toothpaste. Whale lifespan is not well documented, but believed to be around 80 years. There are some great whale watching tours out of the Kona Harbor. However, during the right time of the year you can see them right of the coast as well!
Big Island Sport Fishing
The big island of Hawaii offers some of the best big game fishing found anywhere in the world. Kona is known for the trophy blue marlin caught each and every month of the year. Many of the giant blue marlin tip the scales at over 1000 pounds!! The Hawaii island drops off quickly in deep blue ocean waters, making it an excellent location for big game fishing just a short boat ride away. The gentle calm deep seas yield a variety of species of game fish including, spearfish, tuna, Dorado, and wahoo. Visiting anglers do not need fishing licenses to enjoy the sport. Most of the fishing boats in Kona are located at the Honokohau Marina, located about 10 minutes south of the Kona Airport. Many of the charter boats offer a single or shared price. The best boats in the Marina are busy and it's important to make reservations in advance. Charter boats range in size from 28 foot to 61 foot. Prices range from $500 for a half day exclusive charter up to $1500 for a full day charter. Kona is also the home of the world famous Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, which is help late July or early August.
For those who love to Big Game Fish, The Big Island offers tremendous opportunity and great events!
Pacific Blue Marlin
The Blue Marlin is the ultimate challenge in big game fishing. The Big Island of Hawaii/Kona holds the official all-tackle world record at 1,376 pounds. Big Island of Hawaii/Kona is the only place in the world where blue marlin are caught daily, all year long.
These are caught occasionally off the Big Island coast in late fall and grow to approximately the same size as the Blue Marlin. Striped Marlin - Caught year round off the Big Island of Hawaii coast. The average size of Striped Marlin in Kona is less than 120 pounds. These fish travel in groups of three to ten fish, and at times will strike all of the lures in a pattern.
The Big Island of Hawaii/Kona is one of the few areas that the acrobatic Spearfish is consistently caught. The average weight of the Spearfish caught off the Big Island is 40 pounds.
Caught occasionally off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast in the spring and summer months and usually at night. Average weight in Kona is 250 pounds.
Caught occasionally off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast, mainly in the summer months. These exciting acrobatic fish are fun to catch. The average weight of Sailfish in Kona is under 100 pounds.
Mahi Mahi (Dorado)
Caught year around off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. The average weight of this bright blue, green and yellow fish on the Big Island of Hawaii is 20 to 25 pounds. They are very acrobatic when hooked and great to eat.
There are many different types of Tuna caught off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. The Yellowfin(Ahi) caught off the Kona coast averages 150 pounds. Skipjack Tuna (Aku) averages around 10 pounds.
Caught year-round off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. Average size caught off Big Island of Hawaii/Kona is 75 pounds.
Caught year around off the Big Island of Hawaii/Kona coast. Ono is one of the fastest of fish (up to 60 m.p.h.). Fun to catch, and popular to eat.
While Big Island of Hawaii/Kona boasts a 365 days/year fishing season, if you're planning your vacation around fishing for a particular species, here are your best bets!
- January: Best for Striped Marlin, Amberjack, and Big Eye Tuna.
- February: Best for Striped Marlin, Amberjack, Snapper, and Spearfish.
- March: Best for Striped Marlin, Spearfish and Amberjack. Good for Mahi-Mahi.
- April: Best for Striped Marlin, Spearfish, Mahi-Mahi; and Amberjack. Good for ,Black Marlin, and Big Eye Tuna.
- May: Best for Striped Marlin, Spearfish, Black Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, and Mahi-mahi. Good for Blue Marlin, Swordfish, and Ono.
- June: Best for Blue, Black and Striped Marlin, Spearfish, Swordfish, Yellowfin and Big Eye Tuna and Ono.
- July: Best for Blue and Black Marlin, Swordfish, Yellowfin and Big Eye Tuna and Ono. Good for Striped Marlin.
- August: Best for Blue Marlin, and Ono. Good for Yellowfin and Skipjack Tuna.
- September: Good for Blue Marlin, Ono and Skipjack Tuna.
- October: Good for Blue Marlin and Mahi-Mahi.
- November: Best for Mahi-Mahi. Good for Blue Marlin.
- December: Best for Striped Marlin, Mahi-Mahi and Big Eye Tuna.