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).
Enjoy articles, photos and video by local Maui residents. Maui Information Guide works hard to promote small local businesses & their unique activities, products & accommodations. Learn about the Road to Hana, weather, weddings, restaurants, beaches & more!
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is an internationally recognized brand with more than 7,000 locations throughout North America, including several on the Island of Maui. Enterprise is also the largest car rental brand in North America, well-known for its Great Rates and Award Winning Customer Service.
Lahaina Grill features cuisine using techniques and flavors from around the world with the freshest ingredients from Maui’s local farms, dairies and surrounding waters. Voted Top 10 fine dining restaurants in U.S. for 2018 by TripAdvisor and Best Maui Restaurant for 26 years in a row. (1994-2019).
Sunshine Helicopters offers helicopter tours of Maui, Molokai, Big Island Hawaii and Kauai. With over 90% of the State of Hawaii accessible only by air, enjoy a helicopter ride and soar with us in the blue skies above the Hawaiian Islands aboard our state-of-the-art helicopters.
Island of Maui - Discounted rates on Jeep Wranglers 4WD, convertibles, SUVs, vans and cars from major national companies. Kahului and Kapalua airports and resort locations. Toll Free 1-800-292-1930 or Book directly on our website www.discounthawaiicarrental.com. We specialize in customer service.
Aloha Motorsports is Hawaii’s largest motorsports rental company with 4 locations on three islands. We offer rentals and tours of the coolest vehicles on the islands including Polaris Adventures – Slingshot and EagleRider Harley-Davidson Rentals and Tours.
A modern fleet of Lincoln Town Cars, Navigators, Vans, Minibuses, Motorcoaches, Limousine Buses and School Buses combined with an experienced staff allows Akina to assist with all aspects of ground transportation, tour and support services.