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).
Let Hawaii Forest & Trail show you an authentic Oahu, utilizing our unparalleled land access and interpretive guiding approach to provoke authentic place-based experiences that illuminate the island’s unique regions through in-depth interactions with our nature and culture. Our Hawaii Oahu tours offer a different perspective.
Kipu Ranch Adventures, located on the lush island of Kauai, is proud to be one of the top eco-tours in Hawaii. We enable visitors and residents alike to discover the rich history, landscape and legends that make Kauai activities unique. Come out and join us for a tropical 4x4 off road adventure.
A local favorite, Pagoda Hotel is an affordable urban hotel near Ala Moana Center and central Honolulu. The hotel is close to shopping, dining, Downtown Honolulu, the Hawaii Convention Center, and Waikiki. On-site amenities include a pool, meeting/banquet facilities, and Pagoda Floating Restaurant.
Oceanfront on the sunny Kona Coast, with one & two bedroom suites. Fully equipped kitchens with resort amenities including swimming pool, jet spa, sun deck & barbecue area. Walking distance to historic Kona Town for a variety of dining and shopping.
This resort beckons with 50 oceanfront acres of exquisite beauty. Celebrate the sun in a water wonderland with an adult pool, river-pools, a waterslide and saltwater lagoon, golf at Poipu Bay, savor delicious island flavors at resort restaurants, refresh at Anara Spa in a tropical garden setting.
Top rated, privately managed Lae Nani beachfront condos on Kauai's Coconut Coast. Well maintained 1, 2, and 3 bedroom oceanfront condos in a peaceful beachside resort, walking distance to shopping, dining, attractions and the coastal path.
Premier Kaua'i Vacation Rentals manages spacious 1 and 2 bedroom Condos on Kauai’s Coconut Coast. Choose from a wide variety of Condo units located at Lae Nani, Lanikai, Wailua Bay View, and Hale Awapuhi Villas. We provide direct bookings from our office centrally located in the Kapa'a/Wailua area.
Historic Lodge near Volcanoes National Park. Romantic rooms & Cottages. Fireplaces. Award-winning restaurant. Gazebo, Hot Tub. Nestled on 10 acres. Conference/private dining room. Please check out our website for more information at www.kilauealodge.com.
Discover the chic side of Waikiki at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. From contemporary guest rooms & suites to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's world-renowned cuisine to a lively day-into-night pool scene, Alohilani blends Hawaii’s cultural heritage with an elegant style that’s uniquely…Aloha Chic.
Nestled upcountry among 30-acres of lush tropical gardens, our Kona bed and breakfast offers spectacular ocean views and traditional Island luxury on a private Kona Coffee estate. Choose from elegant rooms, suites, a private cottage or our newly-renovated private Red Barn.