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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).
Located in the King’s Course Clubhouse at the Waikoloa Resort, Mai Grille is a gathering place for a delightful breakfast, post-round relaxation, Sunday Brunch gatherings, serene happy hour and a glorious dining experience.
Set cliffside overlooking a protected marine preserve, Nobu Lanai offers sweeping panoramic views and innovative Japanese cuisine.
Grab-and-go café located on the lobby level featuring homemade pastries, salads and wraps made with local, organic and seasonal ingredients.
Our Waikiki restaurant offers daily breakfast buffets. In the evening, the oceanfront location features Modern American small plates with local ingredients seven nights a week and a special dinner buffet Friday-Sunday.
Fresh Big Island products prepared in an exciting contemporary manner by critically acclaimed Chef Merriman.
Welcome to Kauai’s first Gastropub!! We are a family owned business which specializes in bringing comfort food to a whole new level.
Oceanfront, award-winning restaurant on Napili Bay, serving breakfast 7 am-2 pm, lunch 9 am- 2 pm, Happy Hour 2 pm-4:30 pm and dinner 5 pm-9 pm seven days a week (holiday hours may vary).
A remarkable beachside seafood buffet under the stars with sounds of the ocean's surf and contemporary Island music. Saturday evenings, offered seasonally, at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Purveyors of Handcrafted Shave Ice. Our goal at The Fresh Shave is to serve the best all–natural and delicious shave ice. We offer a healthier alternative to Hawaii’s most famous treat. We strive to use organic ingredients and local farm fresh produce in all our products.
At Lappert's Hawaii, we make everything by hand from scratch using only the finest ingredients. From our five retail stores to our wholesale to High-end restaurants state-wide, we are proud to be part of Hawaii's community for over 30 years.