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).
The Lana'i Culture & Heritage Center, a community museum, seeks to inspire people to be informed, thoughtful and active stewards of their heritage.
Gaylord’s offers one of Kauai’s most beautiful settings for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Our kitchen uses only the freshest, seasonal ingredients supporting our local farmers and fishermen. Our 67-acre sustainable farm provides much of the produce and herbs used in our dishes and cocktails.
Hawaii's world-class visual and performing arts complex located on Maui offers arts education & Hawaiian cultural programs, music, dance and theater performances, art exhibits, movie screenings & special events plus dining area & catering kitchen.
Get lost in the 2008 world's largest maze (as featured in the Guinness Book of World Records). Take a ride on the Pineapple Express train and stroll through the Plantation Garden Tour and learn about the history of pineapple and agriculture in Hawaii.
Generations of families have made Mauna Kea Beach Hotel their home. Children have forged lifetime friendships here while building sandcastles or exploring the shoreline. Program available seasonally or for three or more with prior arrangements.
Experience Waikiki’s breathtaking coastline and stunning sunsets aboard Majestic by Atlantis Cruises. We offer daily sunset dinner cruises and seasonal whale watch cruises. Join us!
Kilohana Plantation is a historic landmark and premier visitor attraction offering visitors and locals a glimpse into Kauai’s past combined with assorted island-style activities, dining and shopping.
Our Bertram 42' loa sportfishing yacht is fast, clean, comfortable, modern, air conditioned and tournament equipped. Out targeted catch is marlin, ono, mahi, ahi and spearfish. Come fish with us.
Historic site, group tours. Art classes, exhibits, workshops, studios, lectures, gift shop, mansion, botanical gardens.
Experience the challenge at Maui's only aerial adventure park. With over 50 different high and low climbing elements and two freefall activities, families can choose their own paths and level of excitement.