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).
FareHarbor provides modern reservation software built for Hawaii - free online booking software for activity and tourism businesses.
Grace Hao lives in Hawai'i and has been speaking & coaching internationally, nationally and locally for more than 19 years. Organizations retain Grace for her expertise in coaching, communication, facilitation and leadership development.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau represents the Islands of Hawai‘i in the highly competitive arena of destination marketing. The mission of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is to create sustainable, diversified, travel destination demand for the Hawaiian Islands.
Wailea Resort is a 1,500 acre master planned, world class resort situated on Maui's southern shore, spanning from the emerald slopes of Haleakala to the glistening shores of the Pacific. Our hotels, neighborhoods and retail/commercial areas all work in harmony.
Enjoy a tranquil moment during your busy sightseeing schedule. Enjoy the lush gardens on the Laie Hawaii Temple grounds, then come inside the visitors' center to learn more about Jesus Christ and the purpose of temples. We also invite you to visit the nearby Polynesian Cultural Center.
Maui Printing Company is a local, Maui based printing company with years of experience behind it's name. Our team members each oversee specific parts of the printing process to ensure each step meets the highest standards of commercial printing.
The Hawaii Convention Center's primary purpose is to accommodate large offshore conventions which generate economic impact and new tax revenues for the State of Hawaii.
A destination association that promotes the Kohala Coast as a luxury vacation destination and is a resource for travel writers, travel agents and potential visitors to the Island.
Hawaii's most complete beach and boat activities. Home of the world famous "Seasmoke" and luxurious "Alala" and Manu Iwa catamarans, offering Snorkel Cruises, Sunset Cruises, Whale Watching, Glass Bottom Boat, kayaks, and beach day packages.
The Maui Visitor Channel transmitting Island-wide, featuring destinations, restaurants and activities. Full service production facility, programming, commercials, Sales & Marketing videos, travel trade videos and hotel in-room videos.