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).
A beautiful oceanfront resort featuring spacious guestrooms, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom villas located on beautiful Kaanapali Beach. Well-appointed villas offer fully equipped kitchen, living/dining area, master bedroom/bath and more!
Intimate boutique chic hotel within walking distance to all Waikiki has to offer. One block from Waikiki Beach and a short walk from Ala Moana Shopping Center, restaurants and the Hawaii Convention Center. The perfect place to mix business and leisure.
Privately nestled against historic Black Rock promontory, Sheraton Maui is set amid 23 lush tropical acres on world famous Kaanapali Beach. The oceanfront resort offers 508 newly renovated guestrooms, exquisite dining, and spectacular water activities.
We offer 8 top-ranked discounted activities on Maui: Authentic Taste of Maui - Food Tour, Iao Valley & Upcountry farm tour, Segway Guided Tours, Road to Hana Waterfalls & Lunch, Treasure Hunt Family Adventure Honolua Adventure w/lunch, Harley Davidson motorcycle guided tours, and Private Guide custom tours.
Hawaii Island Retreat is unique among Hawaii destinations, spas, and eco-retreats. Set among evergreens and ocean breezes along Hawaii's Kohala coast, our 50 acre spa retreat offers luxury accommodations in complete harmony with nature.
Located above the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, The Laylow, Autograph Collection, is where midcentury modern style meets present-day Hawaiian charm-and they get along famously. Come hang out at our secluded oasis, where laying low is raised to an art form.
An oceanfront condominium, adjacent to Lydgate park, w/ a walking path along the coast. Centrally located, it features one-, two- & three-bedroom suites, all oceanview or oceanfront. Amenities include pool, tennis court, BBQs & putting green.
This oceanfront Resort offers luxurious guestrooms in its 12-story tower, and garden and oceanfront cottage accommodations reminiscent of Hawaii's Plantation Era. Enjoy exceptional service, three pools, a restaurant and bars and an oceanfront Luau on the best stretch of Kaanapali Beach.
Private Jeep Tours: Explore hidden waterfall areas on the amazing Road to Hana. The day is customized to your hiking ability. Includes a hike in a beautiful bamboo forest, refreshing swimming holes, lunch and a tour DVD! I take all kinds, from family tour groups to honeymooners!
Just named the #1 resort in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure, Ko'a Kea is a 121-room boutique oceanfront hotel on the south shore. This intimate and romantic resort offers the island’s closest guestrooms to the water, complemented by award-winning service that is both highly personalized and personable.