Scroll to Continue
Adult males range from 40 to 52 feet and can weigh up to 45 tons. Despite their size, humpback whales are graceful acrobats. Keep your eye on the ocean and you might see one breach, propelling up to 40 percent of its body out of the water and landing on its side with a spectacular splash.
Whales have great cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. They play a large role in Hawaiian legend—including one creation story—and appear in ancient petroglyphs on several islands. The return of the kohola (humpback whale) is considered more of a homecoming than a visit. Humpback whales are born in Hawaiian waters, making them kamaaina (native born). Some Native Hawaiians also believe the whales are aumakua (family guardians), so these gentle giants are treated with great respect.
Cultural Significance of Whales in Hawaii
Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.
What's the Best Way to See Whales?
You may also spot kohola from the southern shores of Oahu, especially at Makapuu Lighthouse and along the seaside overlooks near Leahi (Diamond Head).
Kauai offers a range of whale-viewing opportunities, including Poipu Beach on the South Shore, Kilauea Lighthouse on the North Shore and Kapaa Overlook on the island’s Coconut Coast.
On the island of Hawaii, whales are often seen along the shores of the Kohala Coast, as well as Hilo Bay on the east side of the island. The Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is another great viewing spot, with its sweeping, elevated views near Kawaihae Harbor. In fact, Puukohola literally means “hill of the whale” in Hawaiian.
Boat tours may be your best option for viewing whales up close. Hawaii has dozens of tour operators, including a few that lead kayak excursions—a thrilling way to experience these majestic mammals.
In respect for the kohola and the safety of sightseers, all watercraft must stay a minimum of 100 yards from the whales, but you'll be surprised how close you feel when a 45-ton behemoth lunges out of the sea. If a boat tour is not for you, the whales’ impressive acrobatic displays are often visible from miles away. If you're on land, keep a pair of binoculars handy because you never know when you'll see a humpback’s spout (which can be 10–20 feet tall).
Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.
Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company that offers daily snorkeling and sightseeing trips to the Napali Coast and "Hawaii's Forbidden Island" of Niihau. Experience unique marine life while exploring sea caves, waterfalls, cliffs, beaches, and valleys. Call 808-335-0815 to learn more.
Just named the #1 resort in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure, Ko'a Kea is a 121-room boutique oceanfront hotel on the south shore. This intimate and romantic resort offers the island’s closest guestrooms to the water, complemented by award-winning service that is both highly personalized and personable.
At the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy you’ll find recently remodeled, spacious one- and two- bedroom accommodations some of the most dramatic scenery in the South Pacific. Resort suites include full kitchens, private lanais, and all of the comforts of home.
Relax in comfortable two bedroom suites offering convenient living amenities, including a fully equipped kitchen, complimentary WiFi and washer/dryer. This resort offers the oceanfront tropical views that exemplify the spirit of Kauai.
Kauai's most exclusive resort community featuring exclusive access to The Club at Kukuiula through our luxury home rentals. A haven of barefoot luxury on Kauai’s sunny south shore, The Lodge residences at Kukuiula are the destination for discerning travelers to Hawaii.
Built as a classic Bed and Breakfast, we serve a full gourmet breakfast. Located on the sunny south side of Kauai near Lawai Valley. All air-conditioned rooms have a private cliffside lanai, overlooking panoramic views of the Lawai Valley and our 50' salt water pool. We have a hot tub and bbq.
Since opening in 1956, Hotel Coral Reef has been part of life on the island of Kaua'i and our enviable beachfront location ensures you will enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted views and access to the breathtaking coastline of "'the garden island".
Spacious one and two bedroom suites set on 35 tropical landscaped acres. Located oceanfront on white sandy beach in Poipu. Plantation-style condominiums feature fully equipped kitchens, color TV, VCR and in-room safes.