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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).
Sharing food with the people you love is a big part of traditional Hawaiian culture, and our fresh restaurant Ka’ana Kitchen offers a family-style experience. Discover dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner made with ingredients from local farms, all reflecting the authentic flavors of the island.
Indulge in the Makai Lounge and restaurant in Lihue that overlooks the pool and Waipouli Beach for a fun dining experience. Makai Lounge features exotic tropical drinks and a creative pupu menu that includes Hawaiian creations sure to please.
Oahu's only 27 hole course located on the sunny Ewa plains, just forty minutes from Waikiki. The course occupies 270 acres with stunning views of the Waianae mountains. Ninety white sand bunkers and ten lakes protect the 27 manicured greens.
Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine blends fresh local ingredients with European sauces and bold Asian spices, always with a focus on seafood. Each evening you’ll find a tantalizing range of appetizers, entrées, fresh fish dishes and desserts.
Turtle Bay is situated along acres of majestic coastline on Oahu's North Shore. Though the area is primarily known for its spectacular surf, two legends of golf - Arnold Palmer and George Fazio - have boldly chosen to leave their indelible mark as well. With 36 holes of championship golf, two complete practice facilities with professional instruction, and a restaurant as identifiable with North Shore surf culture as Pipeline itself (Lei Lei's), Turtle Bay beckons you.
Ka'anapali Beach Resort Association is the destination marketing office for this world-renowned resort. We welcome you to peruse our website, where you will find a plethora of information about the resort along with links to our member properties.
Wings Over Kauai offers safe, fun and informative airplane tours. Cruise native forest waterfalls, the Waimea Canyon, and the world-famous Napali coastline in a proven 4-seat Cessna Skyhawk at a comfortable altitude and for a very affordable price.
Ko offers cuisine reflective of the many cultures of Hawaii's sugarcane plantation era. The menu is inspired by the rich history and culinary traditions of Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese cultures.