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).
Discover paradise on Earth here at the Courtyard Oahu North Shore. Our peaceful, contemporary hotel is set within the country town of La'ie, on Hawaii's legendary North Shore; fabled beaches including Sunset, Pipeline, and Waimea are just a short distance away.
This family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.
Outrigger Reef on the Beach combines inviting hospitality, timeless traditions and elegant style to create a distinctive Waikiki resort experience. Dine at two seaside restaurants and enjoy nightly live performances by legends of Hawaiian music.
Experience Hawaii condominium living in a quiet neighborhood setting at this contemporary property featuring one- and two-bedroom suites with the conveniences of a full service hotel. Within walking distance of Waikiki Beach, zoo, aquarium, and Kapiolani Park.
Vacation Rental on the beach, Laie Bay, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii. Clean, convenient, beautiful beach and swimming area right out your door. Near Laie Shopping Center, BYU-H, Polynesian Cultural Center and Turtle Bay Hilton Resort.
OHANA Waikiki Malia features renovated Malia Tower guest rooms, lobby and common areas, offering fresh surroundings in the heart of Waikiki. Hotel includes an IHOP restaurant and is conveniently located near shopping and dining on Kalakaua Avenue.
The most coveted spot on Waikiki Beach is at The Royal Hawaiian, within the billowing sanctuary of private beachfront cabanas or from luxurious guest rooms showcasing unrivaled panoramic views of Diamond Head and the sparkling Pacific Ocean - we offer Hawaii's most majestic experiences.
Aulani offers a whole new world of possibilities for meetings & incentives, featuring 830 guest rooms & villas plus 50,000 square feet of eco-friendly indoor & outdoor function space combined with world-class Disney service and imagination.
The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa features some of the best views in Waikiki and a wide variety of guest services and amenities in the heart of exciting Waikiki. Featuring a newly renovated Nanea Lobby and event spaces, the resort is situated only steps from world-famous Waikiki Beach.