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.
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.
A Honeymooner Favorite...Private, Romantic Cottage with Spectacular/Panoramic Ocean-Sunset View. Located on a 4 acres respendent estate on the beautiful, lush North Shore of Maui.
In Makena, discover the awe and wonder of ancient lava flows, pristine shorelines and historical sites. Cobbled pathways amid lush gardens meander to secluded sandy beaches, swimming pools, tennis courts, herb gardens and expansive 2- and 3-bedroom vacation residences with oceanfront views.
The first and only Relais & Châteaux property in Hawaii. Set in Wailea, the ultra-private luxury hotel is designed uniquely for couples. From its perch, 300 feet above sea level, guests enjoy dramatic ocean views and 15 lush acres of pathways through tropical gardens, waterfalls and koi ponds.
Pride of Maui is Maui’s #1 Molokini Snorkel Tour with over 30 years experience. She is the most spacious vessel on Maui, with unsurpassed stability and amenities. Her expert crew are some of the best in the business.
Immerse yourself in a true Hawaiian experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, a AAA Five-Diamond beachfront resort. Cultural and environmental appreciation combined with world-class service and facilities deliver a true escape.
Your Maui retreat starts here at the island’s newest Adults Only boutique resort. Just steps away from the beautiful five-mile white sand beach, Mai Poina ‘Oe la’u, Kohea Kai Resort is the perfect place to relax on the southwest shore of Maui. Enjoy FREE breakfast daily from 6:30-9:30am.
Situated on 40 spectacular oceanfront acres on Ka'anapali Beach, this resort offers elegant guestrooms with private lanais and panoramic views, oceanfront spa, half-acre pool, award-winning restaurants, brand new Regency Club, and Hawaiian cultural activities, including Maui's most exciting lu'au!
Luxurious, romantic and private Maui vacation home with B&B permit, swimming pool, gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and Haleakala crater and estate-like gardens filled with organic tropical fruit, vegetables and flowers for you to pick.