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).
Immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of Hawaii’s marine life at Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii. Encounter schooling reef fish, sharks, stingrays, turtles, and experience the world's first virtual encounter with Hawaii's humpback whales in the Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & 3D Sphere.
Utilize the combined forces of Maui Tropical Plantation to create lasting memories in a timeless setting where old Hawaii meets new. The lush grounds and multiple venues of Maui Tropical Plantation provide the backdrop for the innovative culinary excellence of The Mill House and Maui Chef’s Table.
The most coveted spot on Waikiki Beach is at The Royal Hawaiian, within the billowing sanctuary of private beachfront cabanas or from luxurious guest rooms showcasing unrivaled panoramic views of Diamond Head and the sparkling Pacific Ocean - we offer Hawaii's most majestic experiences.
Reverend Patrick is an ordained minister offering cheerful assistance to couples getting married in Kona and Kohala, with over 20 years experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.
A spectacular oceanfront resort on the Island of Hawai'i. Escape to a tropical playground with saltwater lagoon, pools, waterslides and wildlife. 14 restaurants and bars include Legends of Hawai‘i Lu‘au and Kamuela Provision Company. Activities include the Dolphin Quest, tennis, golf and Kohala Spa.
Little Details is a Luxury Event Planning Company that specializes in custom Event, Home and Office Design.
This resort beckons with 50 oceanfront acres of exquisite beauty. Celebrate the sun in a water wonderland with an adult pool, river-pools, a waterslide and saltwater lagoon, golf at Poipu Bay, savor delicious island flavors at resort restaurants, refresh at Anara Spa in a tropical garden setting.
THE MODERN HONOLULU introduces cosmopolitan chic for leisure and business pursuits in Hawaii. We deftly combine sexy and sophisticated in everything we do. Every element is original; authentic or custom-designed to enhance the experience.
Situated overlooking legendary Hanalei Bay, Princeville Resort brings unmatched sophistication and serene luxury to one of the most remarkable places in the world.