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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).
The Plantation House Restaurant is an award winning restaurant recognized for it's food, views, and wine list. Named on e of the top restaurants in the US for Sunset Dining, and one of Maui's most romantic places to dine. Open all day.
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.
The newly reimagined Ulana restaurant features a renowned breakfast buffet and a la carte menu. This inspired breakfast buffet truly has something for everyone including a made-to-order omelet station and bloody mary bar. Breakfast served daily from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Taverna Restaurant is located in the heart of the Kapalua Resort. We are the gathering place for locals & visitors alike, enjoying our rustic Italian menu along with our craft cocktails & craft tap beer selection. Our Italian inspired wines by glass offerings compliment the menu as well explores the many exciting wine regions of Italy. Ciao!
Enjoy your breakfast beside the soft tumbling of a waterfall, while watching ducks, swans, and flamingos at play in our lovely wildlife ponds. The Colonnade Cafe serves continental breakfast including fresh fruit, Danish pastries, bagels, muffins, fruit juice and smoothies.
Nationally renowned for classic steak house cuisine, featuring US Prime steaks, premium seafood & delectable vegetable menu items. The Ruth's Chris experience includes superior service & excellent wine selections. Voted "Best Steak House" on the Islands.
Contemporary sushi and new wave Asian inspired dishes served in a lively setting are what make Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar one of Hawai’i’s most critically acclaimed and wildly popular restaurants. Wine Spectator described the restaurant’s “endless innovation with a strong Japanese accent.” Bon Appetit named Sansei one of its “Favorite Asian Restaurants” and one of “America’s Best Sushi Bars.”
Maui’s nightlife and bar is best enjoyed amidst Hawaii’s largest collection of art including the famous sculptures of Fernando Botero. This Maui bar offers live, nightly entertainment with some of the best Hawaiian music from 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm