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).
Lana'i Ocean Sports is committed to excellence by creating lifelong memories through personalized service delivered with Aloha. As stewards and sailors, we perpetuate our Hawaiian culture and protect our environment. As an ‘Ohana, we value each other and inspire integrity, innovation, and community.
Boutique bed & breakfast in the heart of Volcano Village. Hale Ohu offers three rooms with private entrances, complimentary continental breakfasts, parking, free Wi-Fi and spa-like bathrooms. The beautifully landscaped five-acre property has gardens and a tranquil Rainforest Walk to explore.
This AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort boasts 243 luxurious rooms in 36 low-rise ocean view bungalows, private golf course, Hualalai Spa, seven distinct pools, cultural center, fabulous island cuisine, and signature Four Seasons service.
This Big Island resort is minutes from the white sand beaches of the Kohala Coast and Hapuna Park with tons of fun on-sit, including a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and more. Enjoy the deep blue waters of the Pacific, lush rain-forests, otherworldly lava flows, world-class golf, and shopping.
The Volcano Rainforest Retreat is a boutique Bed & Breakfast on the Big Island of Hawaii offering a collection of 4 distinct guest cottages, created with elegant simplicity in harmony and balance with the Hawaiian rain forest, adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and charming Volcano Village.
Nestled among pristine fairways and lava rock fields within the tropical haven of Waikoloa on Hawaii’s Big Island. Spacious and luxurious one and two-bedroom suites exude comfort and style with all the conveniences of home.
A luxury boutique Guesthouse in Captain Cook, South Kona on Hawaii Island, at the historic former home of artist and historian Herb Kawainui Kane. Situated on a 16-acre avocado farm with views from Kealakekua Bay to Honaunau.
Kona Beach House: Plantation Manager's Beach House is an oceanfront home in sunny Kona. 4 bedroom/4 bath home is spacious and quiet with sandy beach and a private lagoon. Perfect for relaxation!