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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).
Since 1978, Wyland Galleries has been the art community’s preeminent showcase for the finest in marine life paintings, sculpture and photography.
Since 1985, UFO Parasail has been bringing exciting ocean activities to the islands. UFO Parasail utilizes state-of-the-art winch boats to float you on and off the back of the boat for safe, dry landings.
Knickers Bar and Lounge is open daily for pupus and cocktails.
Overlooking the sparkling pool with commanding views of the ocean, The Lounge is located in the lower lobby area and offers an unforgettable setting for guests to enjoy sunset cocktails and after dinner drinks and live entertainment.
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.
A spectacular location to watch a Hawaiian sunset.
Sunset BBQ dinner at Kahua Ranch, meet the owner and learn about Paniolo live. Rolling green emerald pastures and lush cindercones await you at a lofty and cool 3,200 feet. Dinner/beer/wine/dancing/music. Hands on activities and stargazing.
Taverna Restaurant is located in the heart of the Kapalua Resort. We are the gathering place for locals & visitors alike, enjoying our rustic Italian menu along with our craft cocktails & craft tap beer selection. Our Italian inspired wines by glass offerings compliment the menu as well explores the many exciting wine regions of Italy. Ciao!
Pulehu an Italian Grill, located in Maui, Hawaii, sets the standards for Italian dining. We offer Italian cuisine with a modern flair, designed for the family at affordable prices. The menu addresses the cost conscious life-style of today's competitive adults, with its sensible menu selections.
Named after Hawaii’s brilliant red Lehua blossom, this elegant island lounge is nestled among waterfalls and features handcrafted cocktails, gorgeous views of Mokapu Beach and small bites of farm-to-table cuisine.