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).
Just named the #1 resort in Hawaii by Travel + Leisure, Ko'a Kea is a 121-room boutique oceanfront hotel on the south shore. This intimate and romantic resort offers the island’s closest guestrooms to the water, complemented by award-winning service that is both highly personalized and personable.
Here is a great source of information about Kauai’s convenient Wailua to Kapaa region. This area is known for its abundant coconut palm trees, affordable lodging, many beach parks, Hawaii’s only navigable river, an extraordinary coastal bike path, a long list of restaurants, and lots of adventures.
Kauai's newest 18 holes, Puakea Golf Course, is a spectacular experience. Framed by the Pacific Ocean, Mount Haupu and the tropical landscape that served as the set for Jurassic Park, Puakea treats golfers to magical Kauai golf.
At the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy you’ll find recently remodeled, spacious one- and two- bedroom accommodations some of the most dramatic scenery in the South Pacific. Resort suites include full kitchens, private lanais, and all of the comforts of home.
Seven luxury air conditioned studio, 1, 2, 3 and 5 bedroom villas on a half acre of lush tropical landscaping. Short walk to white sandy Poipu Beach, Kauai. Pillow top mattresses, Egyptian cotton sheets, private hot tub and covered lanais.
The Ocean Course winds its way through a mango and guava tree forest, down to the edge of the Pacific, with the finishing green in the midst of a 40-acre freshwater lagoon. Named one of the most beautiful courses in the world by MSN Travel, for the avid golfer, it is reason enough stay and play.
Luxury Condos! Best location on the ocean in Sunny Poipu. Large 1, 2, & 3B condos are very spacious, luxurious, and have breath taking views of the ocean. On site staff awarded 5-Star TripAdvisor 6 years in a row! Daily housekeeping, heated ocean-side pool & hot tub, concierge services & much more.