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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).
Awarded "2006/2007 C.R.U.I.S.E. Tour of the Year" by Princess Cruises! Captain Zodiac is more than a snorkel tour; it’s a high-speed thrill ride adventure. See dolphins & whales, explore sea caves and see blowholes & unique lava formations.
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.
KTA Super Stores is a homegrown, locally owned family grocery chain, proudly serving Hawai‘i Island for over 100 years.
We create gentle, restorative skincare products, inspired by Hawaii’s lush, tropical landscape and native botanicals, infusing everything we do with the spirit of Aloha. Made with treasured island ingredients, our unique formulations are perfect for everyday use and gentle enough for any skin type.
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.
We proudly offer premium shortbread cookies freshly baked in Honolulu using the finest ingredients. Each box can be presented as a treasured gift, from our 'Ohana to yours. Located at Ala Moana Center and throughout Waikiki, visit our Website for store locations: https://www.honolulucookie.com
Parker Ranch Center, where friends and visitors find everything! Anchored by the popular tourist attraction Parker Ranch Store and the life-size, historic Ikua Purdy statue.
Custom fine art surfboard replicas, hand shaped and painted in Waikiki.
Shaka Tea is the first line of Hawaii-grown, herbal iced teas on the market brewed with mamaki, which is only found and grown one place in the world - the Hawaiian archipelago.
Sweetbread bakery and snack bar. Ice Cream, gift shop, free sampling. Four-acre tropical gardens.