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).
Enjoy Island-fresh steaks and seafood such as charred ahi, Bouillabaise, Filet Mignon and Surf & Turf while watching beautiful sunsets and whales from the lanai. Extensive wine-bar with over 40 wines by the glass. Live contemporary guitar music.
Kamuela Inn is a cozy, comfy 30 room inn located at the crossroads of Kona and Hilo, in the heart of Waimea in South Kohala. Kamuela inn is that home away from home with timeless charm and upcountry hospitality.
Home of the famous diagonally dipped shortbread cookies. Big Island Candies was established in 1977 with one sole purpose - to create the finest macadamia nut chocolates and cookies found anywhere in the world today. Open daily 8:30A.M. to 5:00P.M.
Hawaii's largest craft brewery, distributed in Hawaiian Islands, throughout mainland U.S., Japan. Restaurants on Big Island and Oahu serve craft beer and innovative, local cuisine. Outdoor & indoor air-conditioned seating. Extensive retail.
Oceanfront restaurant serving Hawaiian contemporary cuisine.
Overlooking the 18th hole of the exclusive Hualalai Golf Course, offering Pacific Club Cuisine for lunch and dinner daily.
At Rays on the Bay – the only oceanfront restaurant in the world with manta ray viewing – fresh local seafood, farm-to-table cuisine and handmade artisan pizzas come together with live music, romantic sunsets, a fun rum bar and fire pit lounges for a truly sumptuous experience.
From Simple to Elegant, The Shops at Mauna Lani is THE place to be on the sunny Kohala Coast. Great Shopping, 7 Restaurants, Complementary Hula Show and Cultural Activities every Monday and Thursday starting at 5:30PM. The only4D Movie Ride in Hawaii located inside the Fine Hawaiian Gift Gallery.