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).
Hawaiian Ocean Sports is one of Maui's premier ocean recreation businesses for over a decade. We offer a variety of ocean activities including surf rentals and lessons, Hawaiian outrigger cultural, turtle and snorkel tours.
On the island of Oʻahu in the heart of Waikīkī, International Market Place is a retail and dining destination that attract residents and visitors alike. The revitalized International Market Place features shopping in an open air environment and a unique “Hawaiian Sense of Place”.
Grace Hao lives in Hawai'i and has been speaking & coaching internationally, nationally and locally for more than 19 years. Organizations retain Grace for her expertise in coaching, communication, facilitation and leadership development.
Started in 1985, Manuheali'i Inc. has specialized in design of Hawaiian apparel and accessories. With two retail locations in Honolulu and Kailua, and an online store, Manuheali'i continues to supply patrons with ever-changing collections of original designs and styles.
Full service DMC - Destination and Events Management company specializing in creative and customized incentive corporate and convention programs throughout the Islands.
Since 1949, with over 60 stores through out Hawaii, ABC Stores offer a wide selection of gifts & treasures, apparel, beach needs, fine wines & spirits, drugs, cosmetics, fresh deli and groceries all in one place. Mail order available.
Affordable vacation rentals & real estate sales.
We are passionate about helping people better understand these animals and the negative misconceptions that can go along with them- ESPECIALLY SHARKS! Join us on our most popular dive (snorkel), and swim with an array of shark species!
120 year old North Shore company store for the Kilauea Sugar Plantation has evolved to become an upscale gift and clothing boutique for transcendent and timeless merchandise. Located on the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse, minutes from Princeville.
At HD Premier, our ethos is simple: to be Hawaii’s finest DMC, connecting you to the deepest essence of the Hawaiian Islands and delivering an unparalleled, visceral experience to every guest, on every program, every time.