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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).
Waiolu Ocean Cuisine offers a seafood dinner menu from 6pm-10:30pm daily. Enjoy seafood items as well as fresh sushi including traditional nigiri & new wave maki sushi. Daily Happy Hour specials. The restaurant is also open for lunch from 11am-6pm. Comp 4-hr valet parking. Call 808.683.7456.
Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Company is Hawaii’s largest craft brewery, operating 100% in Hawaii. MBC is based on Maui, with its production brewery and tasting room in Kihei, as well as pubs in Kahana (Maui) and Waikiki (Oahu). Maui Brewing Company is available in 23 states and 10 countries.
Set cliffside overlooking a protected marine preserve, Nobu Lanai offers sweeping panoramic views and innovative Japanese cuisine.
The Kahili Restaurant welcomes you to enjoy our exciting location tucked away in the West Maui Mountains. A favorite meeting place where visitors and residents relax. The dining room and the lanai over look our amazing 18-hole golf course with spectacular views of the ocean and Haleakala Mountain.
Island Fresh Café is nestled in Paia’s historic train station. Filling a demand for conscious food and refreshing drinks. We provide a relaxing atmosphere for breakfast and lunch on the North Shore of Maui.
Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant is the hotel’s new full-service, all-day dining room. The restaurant focuses on using indigenous ingredients in each dish and offers a locally-inspired menu in a casual setting. The Bakery will feature a variety of pastries, cakes, and artisan breads.
Burger Shack is a casual, oceanfront hideaway where guests can savor signature burgers, whimsical shakes and a selection of featured cocktails, craft and local beer.
Grab-and-go café located on the lobby level featuring homemade pastries, salads and wraps made with local, organic and seasonal ingredients.
Chef Zack Sato creates an array of delightful preparations featuring locally-grown, organic produce and fresh-caught island seafood. Located steps from beach, poolside at Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort.
Our Waikiki restaurant offers daily breakfast buffets. In the evening, the oceanfront location features Modern American small plates with local ingredients seven nights a week and a special dinner buffet Friday-Sunday.