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).
Vacation Rental on the beach, Laie Bay, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii. Clean, convenient, beautiful beach and swimming area right out your door. Near Laie Shopping Center, BYU-H, Polynesian Cultural Center and Turtle Bay Hilton Resort.
Trump International Hotel Waikiki is the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel on Oahu. Less than a two-minute walk away from the hotel to the beach & in the heart of Waikiki's vibrant entertainment & shopping scene, Trump Waikiki is a perfect Hawaiian getaway for couples and families.
Aqua Palms Waikiki is a boutique hotel just a block from the beach and within walking distance to Ala Moana Center and the Hawaii Convention Center. On-site amenities include a pool, sun deck, fitness facilities, an activities & tours desk, IHOP restaurant, WiFi, and a weekly manager’s reception.
Set a pace that suits you at Residence Inn by Marriott®. Whether you're with us for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, your daily routine matters. You'll thrive at Residence Inn with the conveniences you need.
We offer comfortable, simple dormitory and private accommodation for backpackers and budget travelers with an amazing location only one block from Waikiki Beach.
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.
Aqua Skyline at Island Colony is just two blocks from the beach and in the midst of world-class shopping, dining, and nightlife. Accommodations offers panoramic city and ocean views. On-site amenities include a pool, sauna, jet spa, large sun deck, fitness facilities, and barbecue grills.
The Manoa Valley Inn is a Victorian Inn filled with European antiques with a bit of island flair. This Historic Country Inn is an Oahu landmark located in an exclusive area of Honolulu right by the University of Hawaii.
Introducing Aulani, DISNEY VACATION CLUB Villas, Ko Olina, Hawai`i. Overlooking the crystal-blue Pacific, the magic of Disney comes to life at this premier vacation destination. Accommodations include Deluxe Studios, 1-, 2-, and 3-Bedroom Villas.
Experience Waikiki’s breathtaking coastline and stunning sunsets aboard Majestic by Atlantis Cruises. We offer daily sunset dinner cruises and seasonal whale watch cruises. Join us!