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).
Volcano Village Lodge offers private lodges in the Volcano, Hawaii rainforest - located 2 miles from the main entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Each lodge offers luxurious linens, top quality amenities, fireplace, and covered lanai. Rates from $280/night.
Courtyard by Marriott® Waikiki Beach is in a vibrant, new side of Waikiki near shopping, dining, nightly entertainment and white sand beaches. Enjoy comfortable guest rooms with pillow-top beds, two swimming pools, fitness center and day spa.
This ocean-view restaurant offers breakfast and an extensive steak and seafood dinner menu. With an emphasis on local ingredients, Chef Joseph Yaple showcases prime and wagyu beef from Snake River Farms and local Hawaiian catch, prepared to perfection.
Located on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki, and just steps away from Waikiki Queen's Surf beach is the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Imagine walking up to an unobstructed view of Diamond Head, the ocean and/or a view of Waikiki. A major transformation of the hotel will be completed in Summer 2018.
Honolulu’s Landmark Hotel is conveniently located between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, adjacent to a major shopping center and steps from a 77-acre beach. Hotel offers 1,100 guest rooms and suites, restaurants, swimming pool, and fitness center.
Built in 1901, the Pioneer Inn captures the ambiance of old whaling days, with architecture that evokes the tranquil lifestyle of turn-of-the-century Lahaina. This charming, renovated hotel is located at the water's edge on historic Lahaina Harbor.
Set oceanfront along Kauai's Coconut Coast guests enjoy newly remodeled guestrooms and public areas, new pool deck and hot tub, and a variety of amenities including nightly entertainment, complimentary yoga, bicycle rental, and more. Dine on the sand at award-winning Lava Lava Beach Club.
Our Maui oceanfront vacation rentals are perfect for family vacations & anyone seeking adventure. Each air-conditioned condos offer a panoramic view and immediate access to Maui beaches. We are close to the action in Lahaina, yet tucked away in a peaceful beachfront location offering fun & romance.