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).
Delta Vacations offers convenient, affordable vacations that combine Delta Air Lines® or Delta's codeshare partner flights with hotel stays, rental car, sightseeing and entertainment, escorted tours, and more.
Hawaii's most complete beach and boat activities. Home of the world famous "Seasmoke" and luxurious "Alala" and Manu Iwa catamarans, offering Snorkel Cruises, Sunset Cruises, Whale Watching, Glass Bottom Boat, kayaks, and beach day packages.
STRIPSTEAK Waikiki, located on the 3rd floor of the International Market Place, is a new genre of modern steakhouse by James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina and is the first restaurant in the State of Hawaii to be named 'America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2018' by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Leilani's offers premier oceanfront outdoor seating serving Hawaiian seafood, also steaks, chicken, and lighter fare.
Full service travel agency located in Maui. We specialize in honeymoon and vacation packages to Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island. Our consultants provide personal, friendly service for all your travel needs.
Chef Zack Sato creates an array of delightful preparations featuring locally-grown, organic produce and fresh-caught island seafood. Located steps from beach, poolside at Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort.
Funjet Vacations is a family-owned business fulfilling vacation dreams since 1974. We are committed to creating vacations that exceed customer expectations and providing the best end-to-end service every step of the way.
Leilani is a custom crafted 50-foot Uniflite Power Vessel. Specially designed for Hawaii's oceans, she offers comfortable and spacious accommodations with a sheltered main cabin, excellent airflow, an observation deck, a large swim platform, a private restroom, and a freshwater shower.
Hawaii Tourism Authority's 2006 Keep It Hawaii Koa Award winner. Specializing in cultural & ecological/nature tours for affinity, family and educational groups in Hawaii since 1989. CMP with spousal & destination management services available.
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.