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).
Your Maui retreat starts here at the island’s newest Adults Only boutique resort. Just steps away from the beautiful five-mile white sand beach, Mai Poina ‘Oe la’u, Kohea Kai Resort is the perfect place to relax on the southwest shore of Maui. Enjoy FREE breakfast daily from 6:30-9:30am.
An inclusive exploration aboard a 36-guest ship of the islands of Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii. Watch marine life; “talk story” with locals; enjoy exclusivity; and spend time at play—kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, and snorkeling.
Embassy Suites by Hilton™ – Waikiki Beach Walk® is the all-suite resort in Waikiki. Hotel features one-and two-bedroom suites and complimentary amenities including daily made-to-order breakfast, evening reception with cocktails and snacks, high-speed Internet access and phone calls.
This resort beckons with 50 oceanfront acres of exquisite beauty. Celebrate the sun in a water wonderland with an adult pool, river-pools, a waterslide and saltwater lagoon, golf at Poipu Bay, savor delicious island flavors at resort restaurants, refresh at Anara Spa in a tropical garden setting.
Cuvée owns and curates a collection of ultra-luxury villas & chalets in celebrated global destinations, including two private estates at the Four Seasons Hualalai. We create the world’s most elevated travel experiences by providing exceptionally tailored planning and singular, immersive experiences.
Discover paradise on Earth here at the Courtyard Oahu North Shore. Our peaceful, contemporary hotel is set within the country town of La'ie, on Hawaii's legendary North Shore; fabled beaches including Sunset, Pipeline, and Waimea are just a short distance away.
West Maui's best kept secret! One and two bedroom condominiums located on the ocean's edge. This low-rise property is surrounded with lush tropical lawns and gardens. Each condo has a full size kitchen and an oceanfront lanai.