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In Hawaii, it's peak time for humpback whale-watching

If you're heading to Hawaii, put whale-watching on your list. Humpbacks are out in force right now.

If you're lucky enough to be traveling in Hawaii right now, you've likely seen humpback whales breaching and slapping the water. At this time of year, they're pretty hard to miss.

Humpbacks make the more than 4,000-mile journey from Alaska to Hawaii typically between December and April. Sightings are best in January and February when babies are born, and moms with their young can be seen off the coast of several islands.

(In Southern California, gray whales can be seen along the coast making their migration from the Bering Sea to Mexico's Baja Peninsula and back.)

If you want to go whalewatching, many companies operate seasonal tours right now. If you book ahead of time online, you're likely to find a discount. Also bear in mind that boats aren't allowed within 100 yards of a whale — neither are humans swimming or paddling.

Kauai: You'll find morning and afternoon tours leaving from Port Allen on the west side of the island. The Na Pali Coast is the perfect place to go whale watching, according to the Kauai Visitors Bureau. Tours cost $130 for adults and $99 for children, and last about five hours.

Maui: Visitors can see whales on the west and south coasts of Maui, the island's VisitMaui.com says. Lahaina Harbor is lined with kiosks offering whale-watching tours that last two to four hours. Tours start at about $18 per person and go up from there, depending on how long you go and whether you want to add snorkeling or other activities.

The Big Island: Tours typically depart from the Kohala Coast or Kailua-Kona areas. Tickets cost $90 for adults and $50 for children, the island's tourism agency says via email.

Oahu: Visitors can hop a boat from Honolulu to see whales too. The Oahu Visitors Bureau says the most popular tours are aboard the Star of Honolulu and Navatek, which depart from the Aloha Tower Marketplace. Prices are $40 to $60. 

If you're strictly a landlubber, check out the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary's visitor center in Kihei, Maui. You can learn about the journeys of the humpbacks and how they are being protected too.

The sanctuary also recommends 10 places to see whales from land, including Makapuu Lighthouse and Hanauma Bay on Oahu, Kapaa's Overlook on Kauai, and Lapakahi State Historical Park on the Big Island.

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