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 award-winning beachfront condo rentals on the world-famous Kaanapali Beach. Choose from a variety of luxury one/two-bedroom apartments with kitchens. Our spacious West Maui resort accommodations near Whalers Village are sure to make your family vacation getaway or honeymoon unforgettable.
Hilo's premier, full service hotel on the shores of Big Island's Hilo Bay. Outstanding views of the ocean or quaint Hilo town, authentic Hawaiian charm and aloha spirit embraces you! Resort features a restaurant, lounge, WiFi, swimming pool, meeting/banquet facilities. (FEMA & TLA Approved)
Marriott's Kauai Lagoons - Kalanipuu is a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare resort on the island of Kauai. We are an upscale vacation ownership resort that provides owners and their families with the flexibility to enjoy high quality vacation experiences and a uniquely serene Hawaiian Experience.
It is our sincere please to welcome you to Hotel La Croix. Nestled at the crossroads of Waikiki, our team is dedicated to providing personalized service with Love and Aloha, ensuring you will have an enjoyable and relaxing stay.
Oceanfront elegance on Kauai in the sunny Poipu Resort area. Luxurious one and two bedroom/2 bath suites with gourmet kitchen, state-of-the-art entertainment center and large private lanai.
Paradise Bay Resort offers panoramic views of the Ko'olau Mountains laced with magnificent waterfalls after a rain, with awesome views of the Bay, Islands, Ocean and the Ancient Hawaiian Fishpond. The resort is a short drive to the airport or Waikiki usually less than 30 minutes.
Tropical Up-Country Plantation House compound B&B in Kona Coffee country with aloha and a touch of Eden. Enjoy a deep Japanese Stone/tile ofuro (Spa) with massage jets. A place of peaceful oasis in the eye of the storm.