Humpback Whales – Hawaii

We’re getting pretty excited about our upcoming annual visit to Hawaii.

Backcountry Journeys travels to the Big Island each January because we feel it to be one of the most photographically interesting and strangely beautiful locations on Earth. And oh, yeah, its warm there in January – An amazing break from the cold temperatures most of us deal with during winter. 

The variety of things we photograph while in Hawaii is incredible, ranging from sea turtles, lush waterfalls, coastal sunsets and even Humpback Whales!

Did you know that roughly 10,000 Humpback Whales use Hawaiʻi’s waters as their principle wintering ground? 

This is a true tidbit about the glorious Humpback Whale, an animal that our Backcountry Journeys group will set out to photograph during our Big Island of Hawaii tour which is set to run January 5th – 11th, 2020. We’ll take a morning private charter boat to look for and photograph Humpback Wales along the Northern Kohala Coast. Click here to reserve your spot on this tour! 

As mentioned above, the tour offers a great deal of variety. We’ll travel to Volcanoes National Park, Hilo, Mauna Kea and more. But, we thought taking a moment for some Humpback Whales Trivia would be a fun way to get some excitement flowing for some Hawaiian Humpback Whale photography! 

So, here we go… 

Did you know?

  • Humpback whales are found in every ocean in the world.
  • They have dark backs, light bellies, pleats on their throats, and a small hump in front of their dorsal fin, leading to the common name of “humpback.”
  • North Pacific Humpback Whales leave the icy waters around Alaska during the fall, swimming practically non-stop for nearly 6 to 8 weeks before reaching their Hawaiian winter home, where they mate, give birth, and nurture their calves.
  • This annual migration is roughly 6,000 miles, making it one of the longest of any mammal.
  • Humpback Whales sing long and complex “songs”, that typically last between 10 and 20 minutes and that can be repeated for hours.
  • Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning, but its believed that most likely the humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract. 
  • Hawai‘i is the only state in the United States where humpback whales mate, calve and nurse their young. 
  • It is suspected that Humpbacks find Hawaii suitable because of the warm waters, the underwater visibility, the variety of ocean depths, and the lack of natural predators.
  • During whale season, you can see whales from every coastline in Hawaii. Just like us, the humpback whales like some parts of Hawaii more than other parts, but there really isn’t a “whale-free” part of Hawaii.
  • Humpback whales cannot breathe underwater, but they can hold their breath for a long time. Look for them to resurface every 7 – 20 minutes to take a breath of air, and while they are at the surface they often perform some acrobatic stunts that are possibly used to communicate. 

And it is during these moments of acrobatic stunts that we get to see their majesty from our boat while photographing the Humpback Whale. Whether its a “blow,” a “tail slap,” “fluke-up dive,” or a “breach,” these acrobatic behaviors are a spectacle to witness. And it is just a small part of what Backcountry Journeys The Big Island of Hawaii tour has waiting for you!  

Humpback Whale Facts:


Kenton Krueger







Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and has had several of his writings and photographs published in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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