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).
Hawaiian Paddle Sports offers authentic, sustainable eco-tours that empower guests to discover a deeper appreciation of and connection to Hawaii’s marine environment. Guests can choose from private kayak, outrigger canoe, canoe surfing, whale watch, and snorkel tours, or take SUP or surf lessons.
Opened in July 2016, the island's premier new luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina welcomes you to an authentic Hawaiian Experience, deeply rooted in cultural tradition, yet alive with the excitement of the future.
Unique location overlooking Kamuela town, has an expansive view of the vocanoes Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa. A breathtaking view of the Kohala Coast & Pacific ocean. 15 minutes from best beaches. Next to Parker Ranch. Walking distance to shops and restaurants.
Home to a vibrant variety of 90 fine shops and restaurants and a renowned whale museum, Whalers Village is located on beautiful Kaanapali Beach and has the distinction of being Maui's premier ocean front shopping destination. Free Hawaiian entertainment.
Embassy Suites by Hilton™ – Waikiki Beach Walk® is the all-suite resort in Waikiki. Hotel features one-and two-bedroom suites and complimentary amenities including daily made-to-order breakfast, evening reception with cocktails and snacks, high-speed Internet access and phone calls.
A swell little spot in Waikiki, this untraditional yet unforgettable hotel offers a slice of authentic Waikiki through expertly designed rooms and suites paired with handcrafted experiences. On-site amenities include a pool, Chef Ed Kenny's restaurant Mahina & Sun's, and Olive & Oliver boutique.
Gingerhill Farm Retreat is a farm community dedicated to exploring sustainability, self-sufficiency, and stewardship of the land. To these ends, we have transformed our lush five-acre plot into a verdant botanical food forest. We do accommodation, different activities and a farm tours.
This AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort boasts 243 luxurious rooms in 36 low-rise ocean view bungalows, private golf course, Hualalai Spa, seven distinct pools, cultural center, fabulous island cuisine, and signature Four Seasons service.