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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).
Designed in the style of an 1880's Hawaiian village. Palm thatched roofs, rustic bungalows and paths lie amidst flower and fruit bearing trees, palms and tropical vegetation. It is an easy walk or drive to Kailua-Kona Village, ocean activities and exciting night life.
Luxury Condos! Best location on the ocean in Sunny Poipu. Large 1, 2, & 3B condos are very spacious, luxurious, and have breath taking views of the ocean. On site staff awarded 5-Star TripAdvisor 6 years in a row! Daily housekeeping, heated ocean-side pool & hot tub, concierge services & much more.
Adults-only, boutique bed & breakfast in the heart of Volcano Village. Hale Ohu offers three rooms with private entrances, complimentary continental breakfast, parking, free Wi-Fi and spa-like bathrooms. You also have access to the lush gardens and our Rainforest Walk set on five acres.
This Maui beachfront resort with low-rise buildings spans 34 acres of tropical landscaping and terraces down to Keawakapu Beach. Amenities include 4 swimming pools, paddle tennis, shuffleboard, barbecue grills and beachfront pavilion.
This family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.
An oceanfront condominium, adjacent to Lydgate park, w/ a walking path along the coast. Centrally located, it features one-, two- & three-bedroom suites, all oceanview or oceanfront. Amenities include pool, tennis court, BBQs & putting green.
Just about everything on Waikiki Beach has been discovered, except maybe Shoreline Waikiki Hotel. In the heart of Waikiki, and only seconds from Waikiki Beach, this peaceful hotel is your hidden sanctuary in Honolulu’s premier shopping and dining district.
Nestled among pristine fairways and lava rock fields within the tropical haven of Waikoloa on Hawaii’s Big Island. Spacious and luxurious one and two-bedroom suites exude comfort and style with all the conveniences of home.
Marriott's Kauai Lagoons - Kalanipuu is a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare resort on the island of Kauai. We are an upscale vacation ownership resort that provides owners and their families with the flexibility to enjoy high quality vacation experiences and a uniquely serene Hawaiian Experience.