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).
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.
Sunshine Helicopters offers helicopter tours of Maui, Molokai, Big Island Hawaii and Kauai. With over 90% of the State of Hawaii accessible only by air, enjoy a helicopter ride and soar with us in the blue skies above the Hawaiian Islands aboard our state-of-the-art helicopters.
Enjoy articles, photos and video by local Maui residents. Maui Information Guide works hard to promote small local businesses & their unique activities, products & accommodations. Learn about the Road to Hana, weather, weddings, restaurants, beaches & more!
Booking online with Snorkel Molokini is the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to plan your snorkel at Molokini Crater.
Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the incredible, 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Kahului.
Naturalist-led hikes with extraordinary guides renowned for their knowledge of Hawaiian botany, geology, culture, and history. Lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, majestic Haleakala Crater, heavenly Hana, and more. Tours include transportation to the trailhead, lunch, equipment, and narration.
Maverick offers VIP-level service and has the worlds largest and youngest fleet of ECO-Star helicopters. Choose from an existing excursion or customize your own and land at a beautiful waterfall.
We offer 8 top-ranked discounted activities on Maui: Authentic Taste of Maui - Food Tour, Iao Valley & Upcountry farm tour, Segway Guided Tours, Road to Hana Waterfalls & Lunch, Treasure Hunt Family Adventure Honolua Adventure w/lunch, Harley Davidson motorcycle guided tours, and Private Guide custom tours.
Private Jeep Tours: Explore hidden waterfall areas on the amazing Road to Hana. The day is customized to your hiking ability. Includes a hike in a beautiful bamboo forest, refreshing swimming holes, lunch and a tour DVD! I take all kinds, from family tour groups to honeymooners!
Pride of Maui is Maui’s #1 Molokini Snorkel Tour with over 30 years experience. She is the most spacious vessel on Maui, with unsurpassed stability and amenities. Her expert crew are some of the best in the business.