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).
Budget to deluxe no frill accommodations and tours. Camping, dorm, deluxe, 1BR and 2BR suites to suit groups and families. Our adventure to the summit of Mauna Kea are rated among world's best along with other eco-adventures such as Volcano National Park, Puna and Valleys and Waterfall Adventures.
Every year since 1996, Frommer's Hawaii has called Blue Hawaiian, "The Cadillac of helicopter tour companies"—featuring the 21st-Century "ECO-Star" helicopter, superlative tours, award-winning customer service, and the world's finest pilots. Departures from Hilo Int'l Airport & Waikoloa Heliport.
Discover Oahu with Oahu Outdoor Guides - Tour the most popular Hawaiian Island with the Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour. This must-do tour covers most of the popular highlights of the island (besides Pearl Harbor separate tour) and adds some less visited gems along the tour.
"Sharing Uchinanchu Aloha!" Attracting more than 50,000 visitors annually, the Okinawan Festival has become the premiere annual event of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association. Proceeds from the Festival support the HUOA's mission of preserving, promoting and perpetuating the Okinawan culture.
Coral Crater Adventure Park is a 35-acre outdoor adventure center located in West Oahu. The park features 6 zip lines, an aerial adventure tower, two 50 foot climbing walls, a king swing, a freefall, rappelling, tactical laser gun shooting, and side-by-side ATVs.
Maui Tropical Plantation is home to a variety of experiences and has something to offer the entire family. The inner property is host to a range of experiences while the larger acreage is an active farm! There is no entrance fee. Shop, dine, zip line, tour and explore!
Experience Polynesian culture at the Drums of the Pacific Luau located at the Hyatt Regency Maui. Enjoy song and dance from the islands of Polynesia, including an all-you-can-eat buffet with traditional island fare, authentic imu ceremony, and three-man Samoan fire-knife dance, all oceanside.
Surf lessons at awesome Hanalei Bay! Sandy bottom, long rides. Recommended by Laird Hamilton for surf lessons while on Kauai. Our team utilizes both Hawaiian and Local Instructors, we give you an Indigenous experience, a real Hawaiian experience!