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).
Explore Maui Nui’s ocean environment with the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation through PacWhale Eco-Adventures top-rated Whalewatches, as well as award-winning snorkel cruises to Molokini & Turtle Arches, Lanai and Honolua Bay; Dolphin Watch ecotours; Sunset Dinner and Cocktail Cruises.
Top rated, privately managed Lae Nani beachfront condos on Kauai's Coconut Coast. Well maintained 1, 2, and 3 bedroom oceanfront condos in a peaceful beachside resort, walking distance to shopping, dining, attractions and the coastal path.
Experience all the excitement of Waikiki from one incredible location. Steps from the azure blue waters and soft sands of Waikiki Beach, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa offers magnificent personalized services, private lanais, and luxurious amenities.
Three wonderful beach homes: 4 bedroom, 3 bath, sleeps 8; 2 bedroom, 3 bath, sleeps 6 and 1 bedroom, 1 bath sleeps 4. All in South Maui, two are ocean front and one is magnificent ocean view. A/C, full kitchen with lots of extras to enjoy an excellent Maui experience.
Koloa Landing Resort offers the islands largest and newest luxury accommodations; ranging from deluxe studios to multi-bedroom villas. The property is also home to a 350,000-gallon pool, celebrity chef poolside bar & grill collaboration, full-service day spa, and many more world-class amenities.
Prince Kuhio Condos offers vacation rental condominiums of 3 sizes and is located on the sunny south shore in Poipu about 30 yards from the ocean. Our condos have 2 great beaches out front and easy walking to shopping and restaurants. You can hear and see the ocean from most of the units.
Ko Olina continues to set new standards for luxury vacation resorts with its mix of like-minded resort partners that include Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club; and the Beach Villas at Ko Olina.