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).
Experience the thrill of ziplining on either of our 2 beautiful and unique Maui locations! Enjoy [...]
From our two mile long Zipline Through Paradise, to the only volcano tour on the Big Island chosen [...]
Minutes from the sandy beaches of the Poipu Resort area, Kauai's newest zipline thrills guests with 8 [...]
Our abalone are served up live, grilled abalone, and in a variety of abalone-centric menu options [...]
Enjoy the best Kauai water adventures and most exclusive parts of Kauai. Kayak to remote areas of Wailua [...]
Hawaiian Springs natural artesian water comes from deep earth aquifers within ancient lava rock on the [...]
The Kauai Made logo assures you that the product is made on Kauai, by Kauai’s people, using Kauai [...]
Maui's only ALL-dual zipline is located on the lush volcanic slopes of the West Maui Mountains. A trek [...]
NOHO HOME is a sophisticated island experience cultivated through artful home decor. Marked by the [...]
From Simple to Elegant, The Shops at Mauna Lani is a fun place to visit on the sunny Kohala Coast, with [...]
Luxury Row at 2100 Kalakaua Avenue offers finest collection of luxury brands in the world. International [...]
In the Polynesian Cultural Center is our Mahinalani Gift Shop, displaying the finest traditional arts [...]