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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).
Knickers Bar and Lounge is open daily for pupus and cocktails.
Kamuela Inn is a cozy, comfy 30 room inn located at the crossroads of Kona and Hilo, in the heart of Waimea in South Kohala. Kamuela inn is that home away from home with timeless charm and upcountry hospitality.
Educational tour of the native plants, history of the sugarcane plantation and architectural history of the mansion. Conducted by the owner Ms. Leona Wilson.
Don’t rush to Bumbye Beach Bar. Set on the edge of our lagoon pool near Mokapu Beach, our Maui beach bar is a place where morning slowly drifts into the day.
Maui’s nightlife and bar is best enjoyed amidst Hawaii’s largest collection of art including the famous sculptures of Fernando Botero. This Maui bar offers live, nightly entertainment with some of the best Hawaiian music from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
First there was Surfer the magazine. Now there’s Surfer the bar – except it’s more than a bar, it’s a true original, located in the flashpoint of global surfing, Oahu’s legendary North Shore.
We make homemade glorified comfort food, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We make sweet and savory pies, sandwiches, salads, specials and more. We use only fine, fresh local ingredients. We are a welcoming restaurant that loves our guest!
Kani Ka Pila Grille, located pool-side at the newly renovated Outrigger Reef on the Beach, serves lunch, dinner and tropical drinks daily, but its real draw is the top-notch live entertainment by some of Hawaii’s greatest island musicians, new local talent and island artists of international renown.