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).
Set amid the awe-inspiring beauty of beautiful Poipu Beach in Kauai, this vacation paradise offers spacious two-bedroom villa accommodations with fully equipped kitchens, living/ dining areas, master bedroom and bath + more!
Located across the street from famous Waikiki Beach, this hotel is in the center of Waikiki with shopping, dining and activities all around. Comfortable air-conditioned rooms with private lanais offer spectacular views.
Holua Resort at Mauna Loa Village offers spacious one-, and two-bedroom villas featuring private lanais and stunning views. Enjoy eight sparkling swimming pools, hot tubs, eleven world-class tennis courts, a fitness center, on-site activities and more.
Experience all the excitement of Waikiki from one incredible location. Steps from the azure blue waters and soft sands of Waikiki Beach, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa offers magnificent personalized services, private lanais, and luxurious amenities.
Hawaii's Premier Small Hotel in the Country. Locally Sourced and Culturally Appropriate. TripAdvisor's Top 25 Small Hotel in the U.S. for 3 consecutive years. Complimentary breakfast and evening meal options nightly. A great central location for the southern half of Hawaii Island.
Clean, affordable, Waikiki deluxe condominium studio & 1 bedroom rentals. Discover hidden Waikiki. Steps to beach/zoo/Kapiolani Park or Ala Moana park. Waikiki Banyan 1 bedroom. Convertible 1-bedrooms center Waikiki. All secure buildings.
Located on the most scenic end of Waikiki and directly across from Waikiki Beach, this hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness center, meeting & banquet rooms, an activities desk and concierge, WiFi internet access, and on-site dining. Contemporary guest rooms offer a lanai & a Keurig coffee maker.