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).
Resting beachfront amid 11 acres of tropical gardens in the heart of the Kaanapali Resort area, the resort has a water activity center, two newly-renovated pool areas, a poolside café and a free shuttle to Kaanapali Resort area shopping and activities.
Located on the widest stretch of beach this is Waikiki’s only true oceanfront resort. The resort offers 22 lush acres with 5 pools, a refreshing salt water lagoon, a wide variety of shopping and dining, activities and Friday night fireworks.
Embassy Suites by Hilton™ – Waikiki Beach Walk® is the all-suite resort in Waikiki. Hotel features one-and two-bedroom suites and complimentary amenities including daily made-to-order breakfast, evening reception with cocktails and snacks, high-speed Internet access and phone calls.
Newly renovated deluxe full service hotel. Just steps to Waikiki Beach. Featuring spectacular city, mountain and ocean views. Fitness room, Business Center, restaurant and cocktail lounge. High speed Internal in public areas and guest rooms.
Maui’s most exclusive beachfront villa resort on famed Wailea Beach offers an indulgent vacation experience. Exquisite 2- and 3-bedroom villas are generously sized, some with its own private pool. Enjoy resort amenities and allow the Concierge to arrange a private chef or personal adventure guide.
Direct Oceanfront 3BR/3BA End unit Condo on the shoreline of Maui's beautiful west coast. Unobstructed PANORAMIC OCEAN VIEW & colorful sunsets. You will be awed by our incredible ocean view & location. Nicely upgraded & remodeled, well-maintained with everything you need for a memorable vacation.
MauiAccommodations.com is the leading resource for hotels, condos, and rental-by-owner accommodations on Maui. One-of-a-kind places to stay! Vacation rentals, homes, b&bs, condos, hotels, resorts. FREE monthly enewsletter with exclusive Maui deals. Blog with travel tips from a local Maui resident.
Destination Residences Hawaii offers an exclusive collection of premium vacation residences in beachfront and golf-front resorts in Wailea and Makena on the island of Maui. Come share our aloha, genuine Hawaiian hospitality and authentic Maui experiences.
Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki is located just a block from the International Marketplace and two blocks to the beachfront of Waikiki. Guests enjoy thoughtful amenities that include daily continental breakfast, an on-site spa, cafe, fitness area, pool deck, barbecue grill, and WiFi to stay connected.
This family-friendly complex is made up of over 870 privately owned one-bedroom condos – allowing you to enjoy the comforts of home at a resort-like facility. Enjoy going to the beach, swimming in the large fresh water pool, soaking in one of the two Jacuzzis or the sauna, or simply relaxing.