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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).
Explore Maui Nui’s ocean environment with the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation through PacWhale Eco-Adventures top-rated Whalewatches, as well as award-winning snorkel cruises to Molokini & Turtle Arches, Lanai and Honolua Bay; Dolphin Watch ecotours; Sunset Dinner and Cocktail Cruises.
Valley Isle Excursions takes you on one of the most breathtaking drives on earth down the road to Hana Maui. Spectacular cliffs, bamboo jungles, hawaiian waterfalls, tropical scenery and colorful fragrant flowers are part of our "Heavenly Hana" tour.
Here is a great source of information about Kauai’s convenient Wailua to Kapaa region. This area is known for its abundant coconut palm trees, affordable lodging, many beach parks, Hawaii’s only navigable river, an extraordinary coastal bike path, a long list of restaurants, and lots of adventures.
Honolulu’s Landmark Hotel is conveniently located between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, adjacent to a major shopping center and steps from a 77-acre beach. Hotel offers 1,100 guest rooms and suites, restaurants, swimming pool, and fitness center.
With a prime beach front location on Polo Beach, relish the blissful view and lull of the ocean waves from every two-bedroom condo, featuring living room, dining area, kitchen and private lanai. Enjoy the pool, jetspa, BBQ grills or herb garden; with nearby entry to the scenic Wailea Coastal Walk.
A Maui favorite! Every Sunday we're serving a feast with traditional brunch items, seafood favorites and Hawaiian specialties. NOTE: Kaanapali Champagne Brunch is currently suspended until further notice, due to COVID-19 safety policies.
Opened in July 2016, the island's premier new luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina welcomes you to an authentic Hawaiian Experience, deeply rooted in cultural tradition, yet alive with the excitement of the future.
Immerse yourself in the welcoming spirit of Aloha during your stay at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. With a location just steps from glittering beaches, island-inspired eateries, and natural wonders, you’ll quickly discover what makes Hawaii such a beloved destination on the island of Oahu.
The Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel offers resort-style amenities without the resort price tag. This beachfront hotel features 452 guest rooms, 2 ocean view restaurants, an infinity pool, & is home to 20,000 square feet of event space, which can accommodate up to 500 persons.
Truly at the center of thriving Waikiki, Pacific Monarch is the perfect landing place to enjoy an extended stay, without sacrificing the comforts of home. Our spacious suites, equipped with full kitchen and lanai are unrivaled.